Tyne and Wear fire chiefs promise internal review after 'disturbing' probe in London puts 'other brigades on notice'

Fire chiefs in the North East will launch their own internal review after a “very disturbing” report that revealed racism, misogyny, bullying and prejudice at the London Fire Brigade.
Tyne and Wear Chief Fire Officer Chris LowtherTyne and Wear Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther
Tyne and Wear Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther

Bosses at the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service confirmed on Monday (December 12) they are closely examining the damning findings of the independent culture review of London Fire Brigade (LFB), which branded it “institutionally misogynist and racist”.

The investigation, set up by the London Fire Commissioner after a trainee firefighter took his own life in 2020, uncovered incidents including a black firefighter having a mock noose put above his locker and women being groped.

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Sunderland councillor Phil Tye, chair of the Tyne and Wear Fire Authority, said he was not aware of similar claims affecting Tyne and Wear.

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But he added service bosses nevertheless will consider each of the 23 recommendations made in the London report “with a view to planning in potential actions we want to take to ensure we continue to focus on strengthening inclusivity”.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther called the 10-month review’s conclusions “incredibly serious”, but added: “I am confident we are in a good position.”

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He said: “We have a zero tolerance approach to all of the behaviours listed in the report.

"That Is not the workplace we have in Tyne and Wear or the culture we have in Tyne and Wear.

"Where we have a breach of that we deal with it in the most serious way possible.”

Newcastle councillor Tom Woodwark called the findings of the review, led by Nazir Afzal, “very disturbing”, with the report also including claims of women being “sexually taunted” and men being “huddled around a screen watching porn” at some fire stations.

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In his review, Mr Afzal said: “The exposure of prejudice in the workplace at one of the world’s largest firefighting and rescue organisations should put other brigades on notice.

“Because while London’s public services are very much in the spotlight at the moment, I have no doubt that similar cultural problems exist in other fire brigades across the country.”

In its most recent review by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, Tyne and Wear was deemed “good at looking after its people”, but to do more to promote fairness and diversity.