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Lawyer for Carol Howard reacts to EHRC report on discrimination in the Metropolitan Police

A report by the Equality and Human Rights commission says Police officers and staff expect to be victimised and have their careers damaged if they complain about discrimination within the Metropolitan Police.

Posted on 08 September 2016

Leading employment law specialist Kiran Daurka, who advised Carol Howard in her Tribunal claims, has joined calls for the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to urgently improve its handling of internal discrimination complaints in order to maintain public confidence.

This follows a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into the handling of internal discrimination complaints by the MPS triggered by the case of Ms Howard who won £37,500 from the Metropolitan Police after being discriminated against by the Force.

The EHRC investigation focused on the MPS internal grievance and misconduct procedures following complaints of discrimination from its own officers and members of staff.

The report found that there were severe weaknesses in how complaints were handled and that ethnic minority, gay and female police officer and staff in the MPS widely expected to be victimised if they raised a discrimination complaint.

The Commission reported that they had carried out an in-depth examination of a wide body of evidence spanning three years including hundreds of documents and reports, around 60 interviews with police officers and staff and detailed analysis of MPS data and procedures.

The EHRC found that there were many areas of poor practice including poor record keeping, inconsistent data, lack of clarity in police regulations and a weak internal complaints system.

The report also made a recommendation for the Home Office to improve the regulatory framework governing complaints of discrimination and misconduct proceedings against officers found to be discriminating.

The Commission’s investigation followed an Employment Tribunal's findings of sex and race discrimination and victimisation in the case of Carol Howard v Metropolitan Police.

Kiran Daurka, a partner in the employment law team at Leigh Day who represented Carol Howard against the Metropolitan Police said:

"This report appears to confirm what was clear from the case of Carol Howard, that the treatment of complaints of discrimination raised by ethnic minority, gay and female officers in the Metropolitan Police Service do not focus on tackling discrimination. The Metropolitan Police focuses on apportioning blame and managing corporate risk.

“If the Metropolitan Police wants to maintain the trust of the public it must reflect their values and be representative of the population. At the moment this report suggests it remains an environment where those who face victimisation believe that they cannot speak out and remain an unheard group in an increasingly powerful non-diverse force. The Metropolitan Police needs urgently to change its outlook on these important issues.

“In our experience these issues are likely to be mirrored across other large organisations, particularly those that take a risk-based approach to grievances, rather than ones in which there is a genuine desire to resolve complaints and tackle discrimination. In this environment grievances are rarely upheld or accepted.

“The lessons from the case of Carol Howard and this report must therefore be applied more widely, particularly in light of recent reports that show how pervasive discrimination is in the workplace.”