London Fire Brigade put into special measures by watchdog after discrimination and bullying claims

London Fire Brigade has been put into special measures by a watchdog amid concerns over “unacceptable behaviour” including discrimination and bullying.

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services said LFB will now face an “enhanced level of monitoring” by inspectors.

It comes after an independent review published last month found the fire service has “dangerous levels of ingrained prejudice against women”, while colleagues from minority backgrounds are “frequently the target of racist abuse”.

The watchdog continuously monitors the performance of fire services in England and Wales. When concerns arise from its inspections, brigades are moved into what is called the “engage” process, known as being placed in special measures.

It said LFB has been put into special measures “because there is cumulative evidence from its last inspection and afterwards of unacceptable behaviour within the brigade, including discrimination and bullying. This was reported as a cause of concern by the inspectorate in July this year.”

The values and behaviours the brigade “aspires to are not always demonstrated by senior leaders, and the brigade needs to do more to demonstrate progress in improving its culture”, the inspectorate added.

'Deep-seated behavioural problems'

Inspector of fire and rescue services Matt Parr said: “We should recognise that London Fire Brigade’s recent cultural review was commissioned by the brigade, whose leadership has accepted its findings without reservation.

“However, it is clear that the behavioural problems we highlighted earlier this year are deep-seated and have not improved.

“The ‘engage’ process provides additional scrutiny of the brigade’s plans, and support for them from across the fire sector.

“We will now examine London Fire Brigade’s improvement plans more frequently and more intrusively, and work closely with the brigade to monitor its progress.”

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