June 14 2011
Female inspector brings sex and age discrimination case against her force.
It has consistently been used as a method of testing the fitness of police officers who attend riots and other outbreaks of public disorder. The so-called 'shield run' involves officers running a distance of 500 metres in under two minutes, 45 seconds while wearing full police riot gear and carrying a shield.
But when Inspector Diane Bamber, 51, failed to meet the time limit, she claimed she had been left humiliated. She brought a sex and age discrimination case against her force, Greater Manchester Police, and now stands to win up to £30,000 after an employment tribunal ruled in her favour.
The landmark case has opened the door for thousands of other women officers to claim payouts and has triggered a review of specialist police training across the country.
Insp Bamber, a serving police officer for more than 30 years who still works for Greater Manchester Police, attended an Initial Public Order Commanders' Course in Lancashire in November 2008.
She complained to the tribunal that prior to the course starting she had been led to believe that she would not have to take part in the shield run. But on the day of the test, Insp Bamber was informed that all officers who wanted to be considered for events where trouble was a possibility would have to pass it. She agreed to run but she did not finish in the allotted time. Her failure meant she could not complete the rest of the training course. When Insp Bamber applied to retake the shield run, it is alleged that one of her colleagues remarked: 'She's got no f****** chance.'
In her ruling, Judge Hilary Slater said Insp Bamber's claims of indirect sex and age discrimination were 'well-founded'.
Noting that the officer had 'suffered humiliation at being sent away from the course', Judge Slater added: 'The tribunal concludes that the claimant was put at the disadvantage suffered by women and persons of her age group in that she failed the test and was not able to complete the training.'
The shield run was first introduced in the Eighties when Scotland Yard used it to test the fitness of officers policing the Notting Hill Carnival. Greater Manchester Police also conducted the runs for 30 years but has now dropped them.
Grahame Stowe Bateson can provide help, advice and legal support to individuals who feel they have been a victim of sexual discrimination in the workplace. Whatever your job, our professional employment law solicitors will assess your personal situation and decide what action can be taken. Give us a call or alternatively visit one of our free advice clinics, every Wednesday between 5pm - 7pm, at all six of our braches in Yorkshire: Leeds, Middleton, Bramley, Chapel Allerton, Meanwood and Harrogate.