23 August 2017
Undercover Police ‘Ignored’ After Raising Concerns About Safety And Sexism Awarded Five-Figure Payouts From Force
Two undercover police officers who turned whistleblower to expose their bosses for unsafe practices and sexism have each been awarded five-figure payouts from the force.
The West Yorkshire Police officers, who risked their lives infiltrating organised crime gangs, say managers ignored warnings about firearms on the streets, just weeks before two female colleagues were killed in a gun and grenade attack.
When one of the men was injured on duty, he was unable to contact his boss. On another occasion the same manager appeared ‘under the influence’ of alcohol at work.
Senior officers were also heard describing female colleagues as only good ‘on the arm’ of policemen.
Attempts to recover stolen property were dismissed, leaving the perpetrators free to continue their crime spree, and concern for burglary victims was brushed aside because they ‘had insurance,’ the officers claimed.
But when they raised concerns, the pair – who cannot be named for legal reasons – were told it was no longer safe to work undercover and sidelined into back office roles.
The whole experience has been incredibly stressful and upsetting and it has taken its toll on us and our families. At times we felt like both were at breaking point. “What hurts the most is that there has been no apology, no attempts to address the problems recognised by the tribunal, and that is disappointing to think that lessons haven’t been learned, that this kind of victimisation may still go on
Managers refused to show one the risk assessment on which the decision was based, while his colleague was told he was being moved because of a small tattoo, which they alleged put him at greater risk of revealing his identity.
West Yorkshire Police appealed the original employment tribunal’s findings of victimisation, but the decision was upheld and a recent hearing has now calculated the damages each should receive. The settlements, which include payments for over 2,400 hours of overtime, total more than £96,000.
In a joint statement, both said they were relieved that the nightmare was finally over, but were still waiting for an apology. While one of the officers has now been redeployed as a uniformed policeman, the other says he was left with no choice but to quit.
The statement said: “The force was like a family to us. We were immensely proud of it and wanted to protect it, but never did we imagine that in doing so we would be treated like this.
“Our policing career as we knew it is finished and all because we chose to voice our concerns rather than turn a blind eye.
“The whole experience has been incredibly stressful and upsetting and it has taken its toll on us and our families. At times we felt like both were at breaking point.
“What hurts the most is that there has been no apology, no attempts to address the problems recognised by the tribunal, and that is disappointing to think that lessons haven’t been learned, that this kind of victimisation may still go on.”
In deciding damages, the Leeds tribunal ruled that the figures should reflect the lack of any apology to the two officers who were supported throughout the case by their lawyer, Jennifer Ainscough, and the Police Federation of England and Wales.
Ms Ainscough, an employment specialist at Slater and Gordon, said: “This has been a hard-fought battle by my clients who have had to endure numerous, lengthy court hearings going over what happened in painful detail.
“It is disappointing that they have yet to receive an apology, but I hope the fact that this was recognised by the tribunal and reflected in the damages awarded will bring them some comfort and allow them to put the ordeal behind them and start to rebuild their lives.”
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