AN INSPECTION report has slammed Hampshire’s Fire and Rescue Service for a “culture of bullying” from management towards staff.

The paper, published today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), also criticises the service for the “domineering behaviour” of bosses.

Inspectors said: “The service does not do enough to promote the right values and culture. Some staff we interviewed talked about a culture of bullying and domineering behaviour from managers.”

However, the report adds that it was “not clear” how “widespread or current” these problems were.

Nevertheless, inspectors found signs of low morale within the workforce, with employees having “little confidence that they will be treated fairly or that senior leaders have their best interests at heart”.

This resulted in a “require improvement” rating at the way the service looks after its staff.

In response, the service agreed improvements needed to be made.

“Our staff are the fabric of the organisation and those that are responsible for keeping people safe across our county,” said Councillor Chris Carter, chairman of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority.

“I can assure them we will be doing all we can to support them in keeping the people of Hampshire safe.”

But, despite the criticism, the service’s diversity and inclusion team was praised by inspectors, who noted that it was “excellent work” to make the service more representative of the local community.

The well-being and mental health of staff is also prioritised, added the report.

It was also commended for its work keeping the public safe from fire, with a “good” rating for both the service’s effectiveness and efficiency at preventing and dealing with blazes.

Cllr Carter added: “This confirms what the authority has long been aware of – that the people of Hampshire are served extremely well by a highly effective and skilled fire service

Inspectors were also impressed by the wide-ranging and innovative ways in which the service works with other organisations to protect people and improve efficiency.

These included the shared control room set-up with fire and rescue services from Dorset and Wiltshire, and Devon and Somerset, and the successful medical co-responding scheme with South Central Ambulance Service.

The service was also found to manage its finances well.

Chief Fire Officer Neil Odin said: ““I am glad the report recognises the professionalism and excellence our staff deliver to the public of Hampshire,” he said.

“We now need to ensure we continue on our journey to making our service an inclusive and inspiring place to work.”

Formal inspections for fire and rescue services were reintroduced by the government last year to assess their efficiency, effectiveness and leadership.

HMICFRS inspectors visited Hampshire in July, the first fire and rescue service in the country to be inspected under the new regime.