Updated Statement on Whitby situation

Lifeboats News Release

Following an investigation at Whitby lifeboat station, two volunteers have been stood down.

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Following an in-depth formal investigation at Whitby lifeboat station concerning social media activity and the production of material of an inappropriate sexual nature, two volunteers have been stood down. These were serious conduct issues which go beyond media speculation around the production and use of offensive mugs.

One volunteer was stood down for social media activity which targeted a member of the RNLI staff without their knowledge and used graphic sexual images which went far beyond banter. As a responsible employer we cannot take this sort of behaviour lightly.

There were also serious conduct issues in relation to content on mugs which again went far beyond banter. The photographs of the mugs portrayed in media articles are mock ups and are not a true representation of the explicit images that were actually in use at the Lifeboat Station. As a result one volunteer was stood down in relation to this issue.

The lifeboat station should be an environment where people are treated with dignity and respect. Our supporters, volunteers and staff expect the RNLI to act in accordance with these values and would rightly anticipate that there would be serious consequences for anybody who fails to meet these standards.

As part of our normal procedures, the two crew members have the right to challenge this decision and appeal against it. Therefore, for legal reasons and in fairness to the crews who have a right of appeal we cannot comment in any further detail at this time.

By challenging this behaviour, we are standing up for the thousands of volunteers who are committed to doing the right thing as they operate our 238 lifeboat stations, saving lives at sea around the clock, 365 days of the year. Our dedicated volunteers represent the values and principles of our organisation and we will not allow any behaviour that brings the work of the RNLI and our people into disrepute.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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