Statement from CFO following Employment Tribunal

A statement from Chief Fire Officer Simon Shilton following the conclusion of an employment tribunal.

Avon Fire & Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer, Simon Shilton said: “It is deeply regrettable that Ms Acheson experienced inappropriate and unwanted behaviour while working within Avon Fire & Rescue Service during her employment. No one should have to come to work and feel mistreated within the workplace.

“The individual who displayed much of these inappropriate behaviours against Ms Acheson, no longer works for the Service and hasn’t for a period of time, after robust action was taken to dismiss him following an internal investigation into the grievance she raised in 2021, which found his behaviours to fall short of what is expected from a member of AF&RS staff.

“As a Service, we are experiencing a defining period as we continue to tackle culture change head on but knowing that this takes time. Unfortunately, this means shining a light, exposing, and eradicating the bad behaviour which does not represent the majority of our employees or who we are as an organisation. Recognising how we respond to these matters now, will shape who we are, to prevent this from happening to others.

“Following the conclusion of today’s trial, hearing the outcomes and the accounts given throughout, local people may naturally have concerns about the culture of the Service. I would like to reassure our communities, and our staff, I have never been so resolute in ensuring any poor behaviours that are not in line with our values are appropriately addressed.

“Since becoming Chief Fire Officer in April 2022, I have put extensive plans in place to address the culture within the Service. We have a zero-tolerance approach to poor behaviour, underpinned by a dignity and respect policy, and we expect every member of staff to come to work and be the best that they can be when serving our community and working alongside one another.

“To support staff further, we have multiple avenues for which inappropriate behaviour can be raised and investigated. This includes a confidential reporting line, where staff can share their concerns anonymously, and should they not yet have the confidence to raise this through other means. All reports are taken seriously, with those most serious in nature looked into by external independent investigators.

“There is always more to be done to tackle and improve the culture and I am wholly committed to improving our Service to ensure we can continue to work together to make our communities a safer place for us all to live and work. While we cannot fix the past, we are focused on improving current staff experiences and ensuring a supportive and inclusive organisation where our staff can thrive, and we maintain the public’s confidence in us as a Service.” 

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