Northamptonshire's chief fire officer speaks out about damning national report that found racism, sexism and homophobia

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Mark Jones said he had made improving the culture and values of the county's fire and rescue service an "urgent priority" after an investigation found racism, sexism and homophobia across England's 44 fire services

Making improvements in the culture and values of Northamptonshire’s Fire and Rescue Service is an “urgent priority”, its chief fire officer has said.

Mark Jones was reacting to a critical report into England’s 44 fire services which documented racist, sexist and homophobic behaviour across the country.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

His Majesty’s Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services Roy Wilsher said the sector “needs to be brought into the 21st century” after he found “deeply troubling” examples of poor behaviour.

Mark Jones, chief fire officer for Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service.Mark Jones, chief fire officer for Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service.
Mark Jones, chief fire officer for Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service.

They included firefighters acting out a rape, expecting women to make tea and thinking the use of racist language was “having a laugh”.

Northamptonshire’s police, fire and crime commissioner Stephen Mold said the report had to trigger a conversation about “unacceptable behaviour and attitudes”.

He said: “I am genuinely concerned about the findings, and I will absolutely hold the chief fire officer to account for drawing a clear line in the sand at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Inspectors were told about a senior officer referring to a black colleague using the “N-word” and putting it down to “having a laugh” and homophobic abuse found written on a firefighter’s locker.

Mr Wilsher made 35 recommendations including introducing appropriate background checks on all staff and an introduction of new misconduct standards, including a national list of barred personnel.

Mr Jones said: “This is a national report, and I am deeply concerned about what it says about our profession.

People join the fire service because they have a passion to serve and keep their community safe. That’s a privilege and a responsibility.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He added: “I will consider each of the report’s 35 recommendations thoroughly.

“This is an urgent priority for me. I want Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service to be among the best and I am committed to make sure we learn, improve, look after our people in the way they deserve and earn the trust the community places in us.”

Mr Mold added: “The public have such trust and admiration for the fire service, and rightly so. But trust must be earned, and confidence is quickly lost.

“Work to create a fire service with a culture where people come, stay and do their best work to keep the public safe will take time. I hope this report will be a catalyst to that change.”