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Police Scotland pays near-£1m as tribunal upholds victimisation claim

The force have today confirmed they reached a settlement of £947,909.07 with former PC Rhona Malone.

Police Scotland have today revealed the sum agreed on as settlement following an employment tribunal with former PC Rhona Malone.

The force will now pay out £947,909.07 after the tribunal upheld multiple victimisation claims from the former officer last October.

PC Malone was a firearms officer based in Edinburgh. She had been with the force between June 2009 and April 2020 when she retired on grounds of ill health.

She said she had been subjected to a series of sexist comments and behaviour amounting to institutional sexism.

The Tribunal found that the culture within Armed Response Vehicles (ARV) was, in the words of a witness, an “absolute boys' club culture”.

Ms Malone began grievance action following an internal email, sent by an Inspector, which said that female officers should not be deployed together if male officers were available to form a mixed team.

In the email the officer said mixed teams of male and female officers were preferable “based on my experience in the firearms and routine policing environment.” He said it made more sense “from a search, balance and testosterone perspective.”

A follow up email however was sent out saying that this did not express the views of senior management and given that no consequent order was carried out, the tribunal dismissed the claimant’s claim of direct discrimination.

At the time, Police Scotland said the Inspector was given “corrective advice” and apologised and accepted the wording had been unacceptable.

Multiple claims of victimisation from PC Malone, however, were upheld, including a threat from a different Inspector to remove her firearms authority following a meeting about the email.

He had said “as a firearms officer you should be able to discuss this in a calm/restrained and controlled manner, doing anything other than that may result in a review of your operational fitness and ultimately may result in a temporary withdrawal”.

The Tribunal, however, found the Inspector at no time believed Ms Malone to have “behaved in such a way as to merit a temporary withdrawal of firearms”.

The Tribunal also upheld claims of victimisation with regards to the failure of the Professional Standards Department to investigate her complaints.

It further accepted evidence from a former colleague of Ms Malone who said she was told by a Chief Firearms Inspector that women should not be Authorised Firearms Officers as menstruation would affect their temperament. 

Since the findings of the tribunal, CC Iain Livingstone has additionally issued a personal apology to Ms Malone and has emphasised his personal commitment to leading change in policing in Scotland to improve the experiences of all women, including officers and staff.

Following the Tribunal's judgement, CC Livingstone had committed to commission an external police service to carry out an independent review of the Employment Tribunal decision and to make recommendations which require action by Police Scotland. PSNI are currently finalising that work.

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