Fire service in England is ‘institutionally homophobic, racist and misogynistic’, MPs say

Fire services in England

The Home Affairs Select Committee has concluded that England’s fire and rescue service is “institutionally misogynistic, racist and homophobic,” ITV has reported.

Following a series of investigations by ITV News into claims of sexual harassment and abuse, MPs concluded that the fire service is in need of urgent measures, and that the authorities that oversee the services are not doing enough to hold them to account. 

Included within recommendations made to the home secretary, James Cleverly, by committee chairwoman Diana Johnson was that fire and rescue authorities in England should improve their scrutiny of senior leaders. 

Johnson said: “The culture in the fire and rescue service – the way some people who work within the service think it is acceptable to behave – is lamentable.

‘There are systemic failures’

“There are systemic failures throughout the fire and rescue service to prevent discrimination from occurring, to hold perpetrators accountable and to provide support and redress to victims.”

The findings follow two independent reviews concluding that there is a toxic culture in certain fire services, with the chief fire officer of South Wales, Huw Jakeway, resigning in the wake of a damning report, and the service being put into special measures by the Welsh government. 

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Two firefighters entering a building.
A quarter of Fire and Rescue services have heard reported of homophobia, racism, and misogyny. (Getty)

Reviews in Dorset and Wiltshire found misogyny and sexism were rife within there. 

A report published last year revealed that staff in a quarter of fire services in England have reported allegations of homophobia, racism and misogyny. 

In March, a report into the Metropolitan Police found the force also to be institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic.

Johnson told ITV that she would investigate the culture of fire services further is she is re-elected to chair the committee after the general election.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak called the election, to be held on 4 July, on Wednesday (22 May).

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