Police have launched an investigation into claims that firefighters at Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service on more than one occasion photographed women who had died in car crashes.
ITV News uncovered evidence that the images were shared on an informal WhatsApp group, where male firefighters are alleged to have made degrading comments about the deceased victims.
Speaking out, one whistleblower, sharing her concerns anonymously, said: “I’ve seen people make comments about the type of underwear the women are wearing in the car crash.”
The female firefighter added: “Retrieving the body of someone dead should tear you apart, not make you want to take photos of it, just to joke about it later.
“Because that’s someone’s loved one, isn’t it? That’s someone’s relative.”
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service have also launched their own independent review, amid damning testimony shared with ITV News about the treatment of women within the organisation.
Several female firefighters told ITV News of persistent sexual harassment within their stations, including one male firefighter demanding sexual favours at the scene of a fire.
The women also shared dozens of explicit photographs and messages they had been sent unsolicited by male colleagues, including demands for sex.
In response to the allegations, Chief Fire Officer for Dorset and Wiltshire, Ben Ansell, told ITV News: “The matters you have raised with us are deeply concerning and we take allegations of this nature extremely seriously.
“As allegations of criminal behaviour are involved, we have immediately alerted the police so the appropriate action can be taken. I am also commissioning an independent investigation.
“As part of this investigation, I will be providing all of our female staff with the opportunity to speak to an independent organisation.
“It is vital to have their help in identifying any inappropriate behaviour – in a modern fire and rescue service there is absolutely no place for it.
“In addition, we have set up a confidential helpline so if any of our staff have immediate issues as a result of these allegations, the right support is in place.
“There is an expectation for our staff to work in line with our code of ethics which sets out high levels of expected behaviours.
“The vast majority of our staff are good people, working hard and doing a great job. But when and if those standards are not met, we will move quickly to address it.”
The full report will air tonight as part of the ITV Evening News and the ITV News at Ten.
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