Firefighters in London will be the first in the country to be issued with body-worn cameras following a damning report which found institutional racism and misogyny within the London Fire Brigade.
The report by former prosecutor Nazir Afzal, which included anonymous testimony from more than 2,000 staff members at the brigade, found shocking evidence of racist, homophobic and misogynistic bullying which left a “clear trail of psychological harm”.
One of the recommendations from the review was for firefighters to wear body-worn cameras during home visits, something which has been backed by MPs.
Speaking at a meeting of the London Assembly Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning Committee on Tuesday morning, London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe confirmed that work would “start immediately” to implement the report’s recommendations.
Roe said: “We have begun the procurement of body-worn cameras. We will be the first service in the country to issue body-worn cameras to our crews, both to protect them but also to ensure public safety and reassurance. Those are immediate changes, and that change has started now.”
In one shocking testimony featured in the report, an anonymous female firefighter said she tells her female friends “not to let male firefighters in the house” as they “go through women’s drawers looking for underwear and sex toys”. The firefighter said that cameras were the “only way” to stop such behaviour.
In addition to issuing firefighters with body-worn cameras, the London Fire Commissioner revealed that a five-year case review had begun this week, looking back at historic cases to “sense check all of those decisions that got made”.
Roe said: “If we still have people in the workforce – regardless of whether they’ve been through a process or not – who do not meet newly framed standards around gross misconduct, then they will be dismissed.”
He added that, unlike in the Metropolitan Police, there are no “significant legal barriers” to dismissing members of staff that have been found to have committed misconduct.