Female police officer wins Tribunal battle

WPC has won a £15,000 pay-out for indirect sex discrimination

A female officer has successfully argued that the procedures several police forces were using to recruit dog handlers discriminated against women.

WPC Kim-Louise Carter has won a £15,000 pay-out for indirect sex discrimination after failing the fitness test which formed part of the selection process.

The gruelling exercise involved a 10 mile run, having to carry the canine over an obstacle course and then sprinting another 100 yards.

The Employment Tribunal proceedings initiated by WPC Carter heard that three police forces in England had incorporated this same test into their recruitment process. They argued that it had been designed to replicate the difficult pursuits that successful applicants may encounter as part of their day-to-day job.

However, figures indicated that it resulted in far more male candidates being selected for dog-handling roles in the areas of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Avon & Somerset. In Gloucestershire, the force where WPC Carter is a serving officer, just four of the 48 dog handlers are female.

The 31-year-old, who was withdrawn from the test and admitted her legs had “felt like jelly” during the exercise, suggested that men had a natural advantage because of their different levels of strength and stamina.

Judge Martha Street, who considered the claim, has ordered all three constabularies to review the exam procedure. Although there is a possibility that the ruling could have wider implications, extending to all forces where similar issues have been raised about whether rigorous fitness tests are discriminating against women applying for certain roles.

“Where a standard test had negative impacts on members of a protected group, here women, then it either needs to be changed or objectively justified,” she said.

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Police said the three forces concerned were now reviewing the Tribunal’s recommendations.