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Essex fire service review finds 'dangerous and pervasive bullying'

  • 9-7-2015

A review into claims of an "intimidatory culture" at a fire service has found "dangerous and pervasive bullying" at every level.

The independent cultural review was commissioned by Essex Fire Authority after reports of incidents which threatened the service's reputation.

The review described the organisational culture at the fire service as "toxic" and said staff did not feel safe.

The authority's chair said the findings made for "extremely difficult reading".

"Today is a watershed...we will be able to move forward and tackle the issues raised. No one individual is to blame," Anthony Headley told a meeting of the fire authority in Kelvedon.

The cultural review was commissioned in November last year in response to a confidential report about a number of incidents which "threatened the excellent, professional reputation" of the service.

After speaking to more than 500 people, the review's author has recommended a number of measures including "stronger governance and leadership".

It was carried out by Irene Lucas, a consultant who was paid £1,250 per day, a cost the fire authority said reflected the value placed on fire service staff.

"There's an overwhelming lack of trust in senior management...these are some of the worst results I've ever seen," Ms Lucas told the meeting.

Fire Minister Mark Francois said the report raised "some very serious issues".

"I have today written to the authority expressing my deep concern and expect to see a clear and robust action plan put in place to address them," he said.

"We will be monitoring this situation very closely and reserve the right to intervene directly should we not be satisfied that improvements are happening quickly in the weeks ahead."

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2015 BBC

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