25 May 2023

‘Reluctance’ within police to admit some officers are racist and sexist – lawyer

25 May 2023

A solicitor who has represented female officers with claims of sex discrimination against Police Scotland said she is disappointed there is a “reluctance” to admit there are individuals within the force who are racist and sexist.

Margaret Gribbon represented former armed response officer Rhona Malone, who won almost £1 million in compensation in a landmark legal case which found she had been victimised after raising concerns about sexism within Police Scotland.

Ms Gribbon said while she welcomed Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone’s admission that the force is institutionally racist and sexist, she was disappointed he appears to be reluctant to acknowledge there are individual officers who have discriminatory attitudes.

She said: “I welcome the chief constable’s admission that the force is institutionally racist and discriminatory and congratulate the Independent Review Group (IRG) on their first report.

“I am disappointed however that there appears a reluctance by the chief constable to admit that there are, unfortunately, officers who are racist and sexist.

“Not to acknowledge this does a disservice to the public, the women police officers I represent, and those serving officers who carry out their challenging roles to an exemplary standard.

“There is evidence of male officers who are the subject of serious conduct complaints of sexism and misogyny, even criminality, who face no meaningful censure and then go on to be promoted to senior ranks.

“Police Scotland must face up to the reality of the challenge they face, and like the Met, commit to removing racist, misogynistic and homophobic officers from policing.”

On Thursday, Sir Iain told a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority that Police Scotland is “institutionally racist and discriminatory”.

He added: “It is right for me, the right thing for me to do as chief constable, to clearly state that institutional racism, sexism, misogyny and discrimination exist.

“Publicly acknowledging these institutional issues exist is essential to our absolute commitment to championing equality and becoming an anti-racist service. It is also critical to our determination to lead wider change in society.”

His statement was hailed as “historic” and “monumental” by First Minister Humza Yousaf.

Unison, the union which represents civilian staff at Police Scotland, has called on the force to take “firm and immediate” action on the issue.

Deputy branch secretary David Malcolm said: “There is no place in policing, or in Scotland, for racism.

“Sir Iain Livingstone’s public acknowledgement that Police Scotland is institutionally racist means they must now take firm and immediate action to become an anti-racist service and champion equality.

“Unison stands ready to work with Police Scotland to take the necessary steps.

“In 2023, Unison is celebrating the year of black workers to campaign for lasting change in workplaces and communities across Scotland.

“We look forward to working with Sir Iain to end racism in our police service.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox