NORTH Wales Fire and Rescue Service has accepted a review into the organisation following "allegations of bullying and sexual harassment".

Hannah Blythyn MS, Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, issued a statement today regarding the culture and values in the North Wales Fire and Rescue service.

Ms Blythyn refers to a "damning report" into the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service by Fenella Morris KC, which found "persistent levels of staff misconduct, a dysfunctional workplace culture and serious and systemic failings in management at all levels."

Following the report, Ms Blythun met both the chief fire officers of Mid and West Wales and North Wales fire and rescue services, as well as the chairs of the fire and rescue authorities to discuss the Morris report and its recommendations.

At these meetings, Ms Blythyn said she "sought assurances about the culture and values and set out my expectations about workplace culture in the services".

Denbighshire Free Press: Hannah Blythyn MSHannah Blythyn MS

Ms Blythyn added: "There are some examples of good practice in both services: for example, every fire station in North Wales has a dedicated support officer, who staff can approach in confidence.

"However, I continue to receive correspondence from current and former employees of both organisations, including allegations of bullying, sexual harassment and favouritism in promotion.   

"The public need to be re-assured about the culture and related management practices in our fire and rescue services and staff need to be assured they have a safe and effective means to share their experiences – good and bad – within their organisation."

Both Mid and West Wales and North Wales fire and rescue services have agreed to carry out an independent review into the following:

  • Undertake an assessment of the organisation’s current position in relation to Fenella Morris KC’s findings and other relevant studies regarding workplace culture; staff satisfaction and motivation; staff engagement; promotion arrangements; grievance arrangements; and workforce diversity. 
  • Consider the outcomes of work already commissioned by both organisations in these areas, such as staff engagement surveys and focus groups and the next steps proposed in response.
  • Identify and prioritise opportunities for improvement, with indicative timelines for implementation.
  • Engage fully and openly with current and former staff and with other interested parties as part of the above.
  • Engage and involve appropriately the relevant trade unions and staff organisations in this process.
  • Produce a report which will be published in full, except for any details which may identify individuals. 

Ms Blythyn said she was expecting a report from north Wales Fire and Rescue Service no later than August this year.   

Chief Fire Officer Dawn Docx said: “We welcome Welsh Government's decision to accept our proposal to review how we are progressing on our cultural journey.

“This is a journey we embarked upon two years ago and we recognise the importance of external assurance, scrutiny, and challenge in our ongoing progress. We believe it is crucial to seek external validation and input to ensure that we continue on the right path.

Denbighshire Free Press: North Wales Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Dawn DocxNorth Wales Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Dawn Docx (Image: North Wales Fire and Rescue Service)

“This is therefore an opportunity for continued self-reflection and improvement – a process which we began by conducting our own confidential staff survey and by also embracing the learning from other fire and rescue services.

“We understand that cultural transformation is not something we can achieve alone. It takes collaboration with our staff, with our stakeholders and with other fire and rescue services. We are committed to working closely with Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service to appoint an external person to conduct the review – a collaborative approach which will ensure a comprehensive and unbiased assessment of our progress.

“We remain dedicated to excellence and continuous improvement and welcome the opportunity for external scrutiny as it aligns with our commitment to transparency and accountability. This will help us identify areas of strength and areas for growth, ultimately enhancing our service delivery and community engagement.

“The wellbeing and experiences of our staff are of utmost importance. No-one should feel uncomfortable in raising any concerns, and they can opt to do so confidentially via an independent hotline - I promise they will always be taken seriously and there is also a wealth of support available.

“Our cultural journey began with our staff, through our first independent staff survey which laid the groundwork for positive change and now as we work through our most recent staff survey results, the voices of staff will continue to guide us.

“I want to express my gratitude for the ongoing hard work and dedication of our staff and provide assurance to the public that we will navigate this process with integrity and professionalism.”