A police force has been ordered to pay tens of thousands of pounds in damages to a serving policeman after it was found that he had been discriminated against and victimised as a result of his complaints about discrimination.
Kent Police has been ordered by an Employment Tribunal to pay almost £26,000 in compensation to PC Angus Bowler after it was found that officers at the police force had been discriminated against.
PC Bowler, who is British Asian, made a claim to the Employment Tribunal in March 2014 after failing to receive a promotion to the position of sergeant whilst working for Kent’s special branch frontier operation near the French entrance to the Channel Tunnel.
The Employment Tribunal in the case was heard in April 2016, with PC Bowler giving evidence at the hearing. PC Bowler stated in evidence that he had applied for the position of sergeant in March 2014 but had failed to receive that promotion. PC Bowler subsequently lodged a grievance complaining that the failure to promote him was discriminatory but an investigation into the complaint found that there had been no discrimination by the office in question, Detective Inspector Nicholas Staddon.
PC Bowler further stated in evidence that, after submitting his complaint of discrimination to Kent Police, he believed that he was subjected to both race discrimination and victimisation. He gave evidence that the following incidents occurred:
- That a senior police officer, Detective Inspector Andy Somerville, had found the race relation legislation “convoluted”, so his investigated of the grievance consisted of him quoting the Oxford dictionary definition of racism to Detective Inspector Staddon. DI Staddon subsequently assured DI Somerville that he was not racist
- That DI Somerville had seen him (PC Bowler) as being “oversensitive” about being treated badly because of his race
- That an appeal by PC Bowler against the outcome of the grievance had been “brushed aside” and that he also saw PC Bowler as being ‘oversensitive’
- That, despite PC Bowler arresting a suspected terrorist in October 2014, neither Detective Sergeant Scott Wilson nor his successor Detective Sergeant John McClean detailed this in their appraisal reports of PC Bowler.
- That Mr Staddon and Mr Wilson made criticisms of PC Bowler that unfairly questioned his honesty
The Employment Tribunal found that Kent Police had racially discriminated against PC Bowler, as well as that he had been victimised because of the complaint that he made about the failure to promote him.
The Employment Tribunal awarded PC Bowler almost £26,000 in compensation for his claims, including £20,822 as compensation for injury to feelings and loss of earnings, and £5,165 in aggravated damages because of Kent Police’s conduct before and during proceedings. The Tribunal also awarded PC Bowler £1,450 to cover his court fees incurred in issuing the claim and bringing it to a hearing.
Kent Police confirmed that it is seeking to appeal the Employment Tribunal’s judgment in the case and PC Bowler refused to comment on the case in detail, stating only that it had been a “nightmare”.
Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “If a grievance relating to discrimination is submitted by an employee then the employer should ensure that it deals with the complaint in a prompt, fair, and thorough manner. A failure to do so could potentially result in a claim for victimisation being brought in the Employment Tribunal.”