Tougher vetting of firefighters being considered by government amid culture crisis
The fire minister has told ITV News that the government is looking at tougher vetting of firefighters in order to "change the culture" of services across the country. Chris Philp's comments follow several ITV News reports into fire services where claims of rape, sexual harassment and bullying of women are said to have been overlooked.
In the latest investigation, ITV News uncovered a serving firefighter was promoted while being investigated for an alleged rape.
The firefighter at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service was given a new management job days after the incident was alleged to have happened.
Mr Philp, who was appointed fire minister last year, will address fire chiefs on Monday afternoon at a conference about the culture within the service. Speaking to ITV News he said, "I am concerned about it. I'm looking already at whether we need to do more about vetting fire fighters, looking at the criminal records and that sort of thing to make sure that is being done comprehensively. But really what will fix this is a cultural change from the top to the bottom of the fire service." The conference, organised by the National Fire Chiefs Council, will discuss the “issues, challenges and opportunities” surrounding the culture that appears to be within many UK fire services. There has been widespread criticism of the sector following a damning report into London Fire Brigade in 2022, followed by ITV News investigations into South Wales, Dorset & Wiltshire, and Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Services. On Thursday, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police and Fire and Rescue Services is expected to release another damning report, into fire service culture across England.
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