Racism, misogyny and harassment… London firefighters in turmoil

A damning investigation has tarnished the image of the London Fire Brigade. The revealed facts were recognized by their command.

Source AFP

The London fire brigade is splashed by a report denouncing facts of racism, harassment and sexism (illustration image).
The London fire brigade is splashed with a report denouncing acts of racism, harassment and sexism (illustration image).

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Lhe London Fire Brigade is undermined by an independent report revealing racism, misogyny and harassment. These behaviors were recognized by his command on Friday November 25 and the latter now intends to treat them with “zero tolerance”. The London Fire Brigade (LFB) commissioned this independent investigation last year after the suicide of a 21-year-old firefighter, who said he was harassed by colleagues because of his Caribbean origins.

Resulting in particular from more than 2,000 testimonies from former and current members of the brigade, this investigation reveals “institutional misogyny and racism”, indicated on Twitter Nazir Afzal, former prosecutor and head of this investigation, which must be made public soon. .

Among the excerpts quoted by British media are the examples of a Muslim firefighter whose colleagues put bacon and sausage in his coat pockets, of a woman whose helmet had been filled with urine, a other than her male colleagues mocking her weight by imitating the sound of a truck backing up, or the sound of a black firefighter finding a rope with a noose on his locker.

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Immediate sanctions

“The report contains stories of shocking bad behavior and painful experiences that have taken place over the years”, in particular towards women, people from ethnic minorities and LGBTQ + people, reacted the LFB in a press release.

“There is no place for discrimination, harassment and bullying in the brigade and from today it will be crystal clear to officers what behaviors are unacceptable and what the consequences will be,” said added LFB chief Andy Roe, who wants to “rebuild trust among his officers and with the communities we are here to serve”.

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In accordance with the twenty or so recommendations of the report, he intends to set up “zero tolerance” with immediate sanctions, better consideration of testimonies of possible bad behavior, the obligation for agents to carry cameras on them when they travel to people’s homes, and training sessions to raise the awareness of brigade officials on these subjects.

A ‘decisive moment’ for London firefighters

London’s fire and rescue brigade is the largest in the country, with 5,000 firefighters, of whom less than 500 are women and just over 500 are from ethnic minorities, according to the report. This investigation must be a “decisive moment” for the firefighters of London, reacted Friday evening the mayor of the British capital Sadiq Khan in a press release, describing the facts reported as “odious”.

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He expressed “his full support” to the head of the LFB to implement the promised changes in his ranks. Last month, another report denounced “institutional” racism in the judicial system, reflected in the decisions rendered and in the absence of diversity within the legal professions.

This investigation targeting the LFB also recalls the scandal which had splashed the London police at the end of the 1990s, with the publication in 1999 of a report which had also pointed to institutional racism within it.


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