Employment Rights of Police Officers
The news is awash with the findings of the Casey Review Report into the Metropolitan Police Service (the Service) where Baroness Casey found that the Service could no longer be responsible for its own internal policing because of ‘systemic and fundamental’ issues which include a rotten culture and an inadequate response to the heinous abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer.
The findings are stark with some key elements to note:
- Cases involving violence and sexual crimes against women were routinely sidelined;
- Serving officers and staff were encouraged internally to delete content from WhatsApp groups in order to ‘protect themselves;’
- The sexual offences unit use broken equipment to store rape kits with one example citing a lunchbox sitting next to rape samples. During the heatwave of 2022 multiple samples were destroyed leading to rape cases falling apart;
- The sexual offences unit has suffered a burnout rate higher than those working on the frontline during Covid and members are subjected to appalling working conditions;
- In contrast the armed police unit has been criticised for ‘splashing cash’ on useless but expensive equipment and attracting officers to join to pay off weddings and top up their pensions thanks to bonus overtime rates;
- Sexism is rife as is a culture of bullying;
- Homophobia is prevalent with gay police officers admitting that they did not trust their own employer;
- Black officers are 81% more likely to be subjected to disciplinary proceedings and the Service continues to be institutionally racist and applies a disparity of treatment against black Londoners;
- Optics and the preservation of reputation has been prioritised over making any genuine institutional changes.
Therefore, as a result of the failure to make any internal changes, the culture, as broken and rotten as it is, has remained the same. It appears no lessons have been learned from the Macpherson Report which was commissioned nearly 25 years ago.
So here we segway into employment law, general employment rights, and its application to police officers. Whilst they are not afforded the benefit of protection from unfair dismissal they are entitled to bring claims for discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. Given the findings of the Casey Report I believe that many cases that are heard following the release of the Report are going to be buoyed by the overarching findings into the Services’ culture.
I can see Tribunal panels across London being convinced that discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, sexual orientation (for example) has more than likely taken place because the Report makes it clear that these types of discrimination are running amok throughout the Service. Let’s see if I am proved right.