RNLI ‘all at sea’ over sack­ings: claim

Whistle­blower speaks out fol­low­ing sack­ings along the coast

The Scarborough News - - FRONT PAGE - By sam jones sa­muel.jones@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @SJonesRe­porter

The RNLI has come un­der fire for its han­dling of re­cent sack­ings at Whitby and Scar­bor­ough lifeboat sta­tions.

The RNLI has come un­der fire for their han­dling of re­cent sack­ings at Whitby and Scar­bor­ough lifeboat sta­tions.

A source who worked for the char­ity for decades in im­por­tant roles, but did not wish to be named, has slammed the RNLI after re­cent in­ci­dents to have hit the head­lines.

Ear­lier this month, two Whitby crew mem­bers were stood down over what the char­ity said was “the pro­duc­tion of in­ap­pro­pri­ate ma­te­rial of a sex­ual na­ture”.

Four other crew mem­bers also quit fol­low­ing the sack­ings.

It fol­lowed on from the sack­ing of Scar­bor­ough coxswain Tom Clark for lead­ing what the RNLI called an “unau­tho­rised train­ing ex­er­cise”. Mr Clark had more than 30 years ser­vice and had been awarded an MBE for his work with the char­ity.

Now, a source has told this pa­per that peo­ple com­ing through into man­age­ment po­si­tions “do not un­der­stand the ethos, they do not un­der­stand the ca­ma­raderie and that’s what’s be­hind the sit­u­a­tions that are aris­ing now.

“What re­ally hurts is to see the RNLI’s good name be­ing dragged through the mud. Every­body around the coast will be won­der­ing what is go­ing on and why is it hap­pen­ing this way? I think it’s the in­ex­pe­ri­ence of the man­agers.”

Re­spond­ing to the claims, an RNLI spokesper­son said: “Like all modern emer­gency ser­vices, the RNLI must ad­here to the very high­est stan­dards to en­sure the safety of our crew, our part­ners and those we res­cue. To en­able us to do this, some change is in­evitable – we can­not op­er­ate in the same way we did 30 or 40 years ago, when the world was a very different place. Some of this change has been im­ple­mented to pro­tect our vol­un­teer crews and to make sure they have the very best train­ing, equip­ment, as­sur­ance and the day-to-day sup­port es­sen­tial to pro­vid­ing a 24/7 life­sav­ing ser­vice. Other change has been necessary be­cause of the greater de­mands and scru­tiny be­ing placed on char­i­ties.”

They added: “Many of our coastal staff team started their RNLI ca­reers as vol­un­teer crew or life­guards – they un­der­stand just how im­por­tant ca­ma­raderie is to a suc­cess­ful lifeboat crew. How­ever, we are also duty bound to make sure a lifeboat sta­tion is a wel­com­ing and in­clu­sive en­vi­ron­ment where all vol­un­teers, staff and vis­i­tors feel safe and are treated with re­spect.

“By tack­ling any be­hav­iour which risks lives or risks the rep­u­ta­tion of our char­ity, we are stand­ing up for the thou­sands of ded­i­cated RNLI vol­un­teers who are com­mit­ted to do­ing the right thing as they op­er­ate our 238 lifeboat sta­tions around the clock.”

RNLI chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Boissier has also bro­ken his si­lence over the re­cent on­tro­ver­sies. He said: “When you hear about some­thing and are frus­trated that there is not lots of in­for­ma­tion avail­able, please take a mo­ment to think about why we may need to be silent, is it be­cause there are le­gal con­se­quences for those in­volved? Is it be­cause it would be wrong to share news that is far more sen­si­tive than meets the eye? We do not take the de­ci­sion to dis­ci­pline an em­ployee, stand a crew mem­ber down or take a boat off ser­vice lightly but some­times we have to do it to en­sure the safety of our peo­ple, and those we are here to serve, and to pro­tect the rep­u­ta­tion of the RNLI.”

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