Police report sparks challenge to support women and BME staff

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has today challenged Police Scotland to boost efforts to support women and BME staff after a new report revealed officer and staff concerns over condescending behaviour and derogatory comments.

The HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) report also highlighted data on recruitment, retention, development, and promotion of people from under-represented groups in Police Scotland. 32% (5,709) of police officers are female and 1% (253) are from black or minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds. The figures are not representative of the general Scottish population, which is 51.1% female and 4% BME.

Last year, Dame Elish Angiolini’s report into Scottish policing found evidence of “underlying sexism” within the service, and that “some male officers struggled to cope with having a female manager.”

The HMICS report shows that in the last 12 months:

  • 12.6% of female police officers and 10.6% of female police staff reported feeling uncomfortable due to being inappropriately stared
  •  25% of female police officers and 11.2% of female police staff reported experiencing derogatory comments about their gender
  • 68.1% female police officers experienced higher levels of condescending behaviour than male police officers

Mr McArthur said:

"When staff and officers were surveyed in 2015, it shone a light on how undervalued staff and officers felt. Police Scotland said they would repeat the exercise, but it’s been bumped down the to-do list since 2017.

“In the meantime, mental health absences have soared and allegations of canteen cultures have come to the fore.

“This long overdue report shows that ignorance isn’t bliss. Nobody should have to face derogatory comments about their gender or any inappropriate behaviour in their workplace.

"Dame Elish said that staff surveys could drive cultural change, so we need to see a commitment to making this king of engagement a regular feature of service. That would help to identify issues quickly, and substantial measures to end gender discrimination and toxic workplace culture.


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