Tribunal success for police officer facing racial discrimination

A British-Asian police officer who specialised in anti-terror activities has won a tribunal claim against Kent police force on grounds that he was racially discriminated against by being overlooked for a job promotion.

Angus Bowler was an officer at Kent Police for 25 years, during which time he specialised in counter terrorism activities and anti-immigration duties under employment with the frontier branch. At the time he suffered detriment he was working near the Channel Tunnel station in Coquelles, France, where he had been living with his family since 2010.

After not being considered for the promotion he was worthy of, PC Bowler expressed his concerns about the seemingly unreasonable snub to relevant personnel at Kent police but found the resulting internal investigation on the issue to be unsatisfactory. Following his disclosure PC Bowler claims he became a target of bullying and discrimination.

The employment tribunal in Ashford ruled that after considering further information about internal police conduct, PC Bowler had indeed experienced further discrimination. This includes his personal performance review results being lowered and his freedom to make visits to his French officer peers abruptly curtailed despite no same restriction being enforced upon his white British colleagues.

Internal responsibility for assessing PC Bowler’s claim belonged to DCI Andy Somerville, who told him there was no grounds for a claim, which DCI Somerville repeated when cross examined at tribunal. He supported his assertion by referencing what he called the “race relations act”, which is believed to be in reference to the 2010 Equality Act.

DCI Somerville said he found the legislation of the Equality Act ‘convoluted’ and chose instead to understand the law more intensely by consulting the definition of racism via an Oxford English dictionary. After sharing the definition with other officers, it was the unanimous opinion of all officers that they had not behaved in a discriminatory manner towards PC Bowler.

Speaking at the Tribunal in April 2016, PC Bowler revealed the depth of his sufferance: “Having dedicated more than 25 years to the police force, it was shocking and crushing to find that I was treated differently because of the colour of my skin. This case has caused me and my family a great deal of turmoil and upheaval, but I am relieved to finally be able to put this ordeal behind me and move on.”

In a statement, a Kent policeman responded to the tribunal ruling: “Kent police was legally represented at the hearing and acknowledges the decision of the employment tribunal. A date for a remedies hearing is yet to be confirmed.”

Official NHS Whistleblowing Policy Introduced

The NHS Improvement organisation, which oversees the performance of NHS establishments across the UK, has published its highly anticipated final draft of an official whistleblowing policy report that the entire NHS must enforce prior to 31st March 2017.

It was agreed last November there should be one set of rules regarding whistleblowing for use across the entire NHS. This long overdue decision was the result of the Freedom to Speak report compiled last year by Robert Francis QC, who concluded there need to be disclosure rules in place due to the high number of whistleblowing cases occurring within the NHS. Now after months of feedback from industry personnel, the final report is ready.

In order to protect the interests of both its staff and patients, this new policy has to be followed throughout the NHS without exception. Complaints under particular scrutiny are those that involve poor working facilities and environments that create harmful conditions for patient care.

The report recognises that the vast scope of NHS affiliated organisations across Britain means there will need to be different methods of implementing these rules, therefore there is room for some minor alterations separate to the written law, from which individual establishments can deviate somewhat while still following the core requirements of the national rule.

The report also highlights which NHS staff members should be contacted if an employee does decide to make a disclosure. In such a case, an organisation’s ‘whistleblowing guardian’, a new employment position required by law, must be consulted prior to any third party official being contacted. This is necessary to ensure correct protocol is observed while the best interests of the whistleblower are catered for.

The report’s intention is not to prevent outside interference and potentially damaging information from becoming public knowledge, but to instead benefit whistleblowers by ensuring a non-threatening atmosphere exists in which they can feel relaxed and confident.

Danny Mortimer, the Chief executive of NHS Employers, has explained the organisation’s position:

“Employers are committed to ensuring that every member of staff feel able to raise any concerns and know that appropriate action will be taken. We are also pleased to see that employers can incorporate their local processes into this national standard policy – employers will now want to review the documentation in partnership with their local staff representatives and agree the best way to engage and communicate with staff”.

Once an investigation begins, the first step involved is for the matter to be judged by the line manager of the organisation involved. Should this complaint be dismissed, the employee can then take action via an unbiased third party source; namely an independent professional with the necessary legal expertise to deal with the matter. However, the line manager of the organisation will try their hardest to ensure such a step is not taken as whistleblowing will henceforth be treated with the highest concern across the NHS.