Claire Duffin, Daily Mail, January 27, 2019
Down the years, many a little boy has dreamed of being a fireman when he grows up.
Now, it seems, for some of them achieving that goal has become a bit harder.
A fire service has been accused of discrimination after it was claimed that white men have to score higher in recruitment tests than women and people from ethnic minorities.
When applying for a role at West Midlands Fire Service, they have to score 70 per cent in a verbal and numerical reasoning test to get through to the next round.
But women and people from black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups need only 60 per cent.
Bosses are also spending £2,500 a month on Facebook adverts targeted specifically at women, a whistleblower has claimed.
The source, who did not want to be named, said the recruitment programme, introduced in late 2017, cost £100,000 a year. ‘This directly discriminates against white men,’ he said. ‘Not only are they discriminating against large parts of my community, but they are also using huge amounts of public money to do so.
‘It’s not fair on the members of the community who rightly expect the best people for the job will be selected to serve on the front line. It’s difficult to swallow knowing people have not been able to achieve their dream careers because they are too white or too male.’
The fire service, one of the biggest in the country, wants 60 per cent of new recruits to be women, and 35 per cent to be from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups by 2021, a leaked memo showed.
The source claimed that, in a bid to reach the target, the pass rate had been altered to make it easier for people from those groups to get through the test.
Candidates who pass the first stage of the recruitment process – a 45-minute test of their reactions – are then sent a link to the numerical, verbal and mechanical reasoning exam.
But since the change, white men have to score seven out of ten to get through to the next stage – a physical test – while women and BME candidates only have to score six.
A spokesman for West Midlands Fire Service said: ‘The approaches we take for recruitment and selection are carefully considered to ensure that they are appropriate, balanced and, above all, legal.
‘West Midlands Fire Service is committed to having a workforce which reflects the diversity of the population of all our communities, and one that is welcoming to all.
‘We are working hard to break down barriers faced by people who could bring so much to our service and to their community.’