Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2024

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Nazir Afzal


AS A FORMER prosecutor, Nazir Afzal employs a forensic approach to evidence get to the bottom of a challenging problem. His 2023 report into the culture of the Lon don Fire Brigade, commissioned by London mayor Sadiq Khan, shone a disturbing light on the racism, misogyny and homo and transphobia which existed. Now, that work has led to “a game changer” among other public services. “I found the fire service to be institutionally racist, misogynist, homophobic, and with industrial levels of bullying and harassment,” he told the GG2Power List. “It then led to enormous reckoning amongst fire services throughout the country. South Wales fire service was taken over by the Welsh government which will look into their core commitments and the leadership.

So, every other fire service began looking at themselves. They had no choice, because people felt emboldened after our review to speak up about this.” Other countries picked up his work, and Australia invited Afzal to speak at a conference for emergency services which led to his speaking with federal ministers about toxic cultures in workplaces. He also informally advised Baroness Casey in her excoriating report into cultural practices in the Metropolitan Police, and he now trains senior leaders in best practices. Afzal is also the chair of the Catholic church’s safeguarding standards agency, and last November he met the pope. “Given that we’ve only had this independent regulator for two and a half years, they think it’s global best practice. We’re now having conversations with the Vatican about what learning we can do,” he told the Power List. In February, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which regulates the UK’s 808,000 nurses and midwives, has asked Afzal to carry out a review into its culture.

“People of colour who are in positions of leadership will tell you that

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