Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service has agreed to take a 'zero-tolerance' approach to racism and committed to dismantling 'structural racism' in the service.

The service has acknowledged some staff have faced discrimination in the past.

Part of the zero-tolerance statement, agreed by the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, Gloucestershire County Council says: "The brigade has recognised that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff have experienced unacceptable discriminatory behaviours and sets out a number of commitments to tackle it, under new Chief Fire Officer Wayne Bowcock."

The service says it will support all staff who raise concerns about racism with a simple method for reporting racism at work, ensuring they are not victimized for doing so, and will act to protect staff who are subject to racist abuse.

The FBU welcomed the statement but said that 'words are not enough'. The union has pledged to hold the service to account and warned it is 'on notice' to deliver 'systemic change'.

The statement follows weeks of negotiation and years of the union raising concerns and allegations over racism in the brigade.

The FBU has previously raised serious concerns about excessive informal disciplinary action faced by black firefighters in Gloucestershire, which proportionally far exceeded that of white colleagues.

The union has repeatedly raised poor career progression for black personnel and supported a firefighter’s successful “victimisation due to ostracisation” claim against the service.

Trevor French, FBU Executive Council member, said: “Senior management have historically failed to tackle racism within Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, but it appears this unacceptable culture has finally been recognised. We welcome this statement as a commitment by management to make positive change and eradicate racism in the service.

“For too long, our black members have suffered racism and discrimination in their working lives. The FBU has raised these issues for years but management buried their heads in the sand for too long.

“We need to see immediate, effective and fundamental change in Gloucestershire and we will hold this new management team to account to achieve it.”

Joseph Mendy, FBU Black and Ethnic Minority Members section Secretary, said: “The evidence from black firefighters in Gloucestershire clearly shows that racist behaviour has been prevalent in this service for years.

“Despite serious concerns being raised and evidence produced, the previous management teams did nothing to protect black firefighters at work.

“We welcome this statement and the commitments within it, but we are putting Gloucestershire on notice – words are not enough and there must be systemic change that goes with it.”