London Fire Brigade put into special measures after investigation finds it to be 'institutionally misogynist and racist'

London Fire Brigade (LFB) has been put into special measures by a watchdog after an investigation found the brigade is "institutionally misogynist and racist".

LFB will now face an "enhanced level of monitoring" by inspectors, according to His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.

It comes after an independent review published last month found LFB has a "toxic culture that allows bullying and abuse".

The review found the fire service has "dangerous levels of ingrained prejudice against women", while colleagues from minority backgrounds are "frequently the target of racist abuse".

One black firefighter had a noose put above his locker while a female firefighter said she advised female friends not to let male firefighters in the house to check smoke alarms because they "go through women's drawers looking for underwear and sex toys".

In another incident, a Muslim man had bacon and sausages put in his coat pockets and a terrorist hotline sign posted on his locker.

The watchdog 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.

The watchdog continuously monitors the performance of fire services in England and Wales, placing brigades in special measures - also known as the "engage" process - when concerns arise from its inspections.

Inspector of fire and rescue services Matt Parr said putting the brigade in special measures "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."

He added: "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."

Read more:
London Fire Brigade is 'institutionally misogynist and racist'
'Toxic culture' of London Fire Brigade - where abuse is disguised as 'banter'

London fire commissioner Andy Roe said: "I recognised that LFB's culture needed to improve, which is why I commissioned the independent culture review and took immediate actions when it was published last month.

"Our external complaints service is supporting colleagues, and a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination, harassment and bullying means all staff know what behaviours aren't tolerated.

"Change is happening now, and the face-to-face meetings I've been having with firefighters and other staff shows there is a passion to make sure our culture works for everyone.

"We welcome the additional support as part of the inspectorate's enhanced monitoring programme and I look forward to working with them and other partners to monitor progress and change in the future."