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Fedster

Force guilty of 'positive action' discrimination which stopped son joining his father in the ranks

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Fedster

Tribunal rules being white heterosexual male meant 'exceptional' candidate missed out on taking up dream job.

Cheshire Constabulary: Intends to 'review the findings' of the tribunal in the next few days

Cheshire Constabulary: Intends to 'review the findings' of the tribunal in the next few days

 

 

 

A force once criticised by Theresa May for having no black officers has been found guilty of discrimination in a landmark recruitment case after rejecting the son of a serving detective inspector because he is a white heterosexual male.

Matthew Furlong, 25, whose father is a DI in Cheshire Constabulary, had hoped to follow in his footsteps when he applied to join the force in 2017.

After making it through to the interview stage, he said he was told "it was refreshing to meet someone as well prepared as yourself" and that he "could not have done any more".

But the “exceptional candidate” was later told he had lost out to other candidates, leading his father to lodge a complaint.

Mr Furlong, who studied particle physics and cosmology at Lancaster University, has now won an employment tribunal case which found Cheshire Constabulary discriminated against him on the grounds of sexual orientation, race and sex.

His lawyers say it is the first reported case of its kind in the UK, after the employment tribunal ruled the Cheshire force used positive action – where employers take steps to recruit certain groups of people with different characteristics – but in a discriminatory way.

Jennifer Ainscough, an employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: "Matthew was denied his dream job simply because he was a white, heterosexual male.

"This is the first reported case of its kind in the UK where positive action has been used in a discriminatory way.

"Matthew's courage in speaking out will hopefully ensure it is the last.

"Had he not been such an exceptional candidate he may not even have suspected anything was wrong and this unlawful and unacceptable selection process may have been allowed to continue.

"Positive action is an important tool to support a diverse workforce that reflects the community in which we live.

"However it must be applied lawfully to ensure the highest calibre of candidates are recruited regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation and to ensure standards in police forces are maintained to properly protect our society."

The tribunal in Liverpool heard four days of evidence before reaching its conclusion, published earlier this month, that Mr Furlong had been a victim of direct discrimination on the grounds of his sexual orientation, race and sex.

It ruled that while positive action can be used to boost diversity, it should only be applied to distinguish between candidates who were all equally well qualified for a role.

The force's claim it had seen 127 candidates who were equally suitable for the role of police constable was a "fallacy", the tribunal ruled, and imposing such an artificially low threshold - assigning candidates a pass or fail rather than any kind of score - was not a proportionate response to addressing the force's lack of diversity.

Cheshire Constabulary was among a number of forces criticised in 2015 by then Home Secretary Theresa May for having no black officers, but has since taken steps to improve opportunities for those with protected characteristics relating to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic gender, sexual orientation and disability.

During his tenure as Cheshire chief constable, Simon Byrne spoke of his desire to "stretch" employment law in order to bring in more officers from black and minority groups.

Police Oracle reported he had told BBC local radio he considered breaching rules, as he called for legislation to be altered to help his force recruit more minority officers.

He claimed current employment law was making it "almost impossible" to meet a drive to boost minority representation.

By 2017 the force had three black officers after introducing a positive action scheme. Its efforts have resulted in a number of national awards and recognition including being chosen to host the National Black Police Associations Conference in the same year.

The case has been adjourned until later this year for a remedy hearing to determine the amount of compensation to be awarded.

A spokesman for the Cheshire force said: "We have been notified of the outcome of the tribunal and will review the findings over the coming days."

The ruling – which is likely to impinge on force finances in the shape of a sizeable compensatory award – comes just days after Darren Martland was confirmed as Cheshire’s new chief constable, replacing the controversial tenure of Mr Byrne in which he was suspended for allegedly being a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character who routinely humiliated staff.

Mr Byrne’s contract with the force expired during misconduct proceedings. The cost of the investigation and Mr Byrne’s suspension has been estimated at £450,000.

View On Police Oracle

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Cathedral Bobby

The worm has turned. I think this is a good decision. But will any other force touch Mr Furlong with a barge pole? 

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Fedster
14 minutes ago, Cathedral Bobby said:

The worm has turned. I think this is a good decision. But will any other force touch Mr Furlong with a barge pole? 

Good point, i would hazard a guess that other forces wont want to risk the publicity in hiring Mr Furlong.

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Truck driver 1

A police officer reject was discriminated against in his application due to him being straight, white and male, a landmark tribunal has found.    https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/police-constable-reject-discriminated-against-for-being-straight-white-man-landmark-tribunal-a4073191.html 

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SD
9 hours ago, Fedster said:

Good point, i would hazard a guess that other forces wont want to risk the publicity in hiring Mr Furlong.

On the flip side, who wouldn’t take him on if he applied?!

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Cathedral Bobby
27 minutes ago, SD said:

On the flip side, who wouldn’t take him on if he applied?!

I suspect if you don't get through the initial sift then feedback is limited. He must have had plenty of feedback in order to have a sufficient case to take to tribunal or internal information not ordinarily available to applicants. He was also very confident.

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stewie_griffin

The key phrase is here:

'The force's claim it had seen 127 candidates who were equally suitable for the role of police constable was a "fallacy", the tribunal ruled, and imposing such an artificially low threshold - assigning candidates a pass or fail rather than any kind of score - was not a proportionate response to addressing the force's lack of diversity.'

So the idea seems to be to set the passmark very low to ensure that there's a large number of 'successful applicants' then pick out the ones you want. In this case it was ethnic minority candidates, but using the same methodology you could recruit whoever you wanted: women, dwarves, left-handed people or the Chinese.

The problem with picking potential police officers solely on merit in a place like Cheshire is that with the best will in the world, you're not going to get many who aren't white.

Finally, why on earth would anyone think that young, dynamic, ambitious people from immigrant communities would want to join the police? Surely they would be aiming a bit higher than that. 

 

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ParochialYokal

There appears to be nothing wrong with the law- just the way Cheshire Police misinterpreted it.

They had enough information to hand to determine whom were the best applicants- not everybody was equal. As such, they should have worked their done the list until they got to the police where everybody was equal and then they could have discriminated ‘positively’.

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Cathedral Bobby
12 minutes ago, ParochialYokal said:

As such, they should have worked their done the list until they got to the police where everybody was equal and then they could have discriminated ‘positively’.

This clear and fairly obvious oversight will undoubtedly set positive action back. As you say the only time this should ever be considered is at the very end of the process.

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ParochialYokal
This clear and fairly obvious oversight will undoubtedly set positive action back. As you say the only time this should ever be considered is at the very end of the process.


The pool of applicants they would have had would have been ‘pyramid shaped’. Not everyone would have been exceptional and they would have hit a critical mass at some point but they clearly chose to ignore the exceptional candidates.

In fact, rather than looking at individual marks, they might have even got away with banding then in groupings of five so that they hit the critical mass sooner. But they were either stupid enough or even arrogant enough to not have even considered doing that.

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IrateShrike
On 24/02/2019 at 11:23, ParochialYokal said:

There appears to be nothing wrong with the law- just the way Cheshire Police misinterpreted it.

They had enough information to hand to determine whom were the best applicants- not everybody was equal. As such, they should have worked their done the list until they got to the police where everybody was equal and then they could have discriminated ‘positively’.

I think 'misinterpreted' is being very generous.  I'd propose that 'wilfully disregarded' is more likely, due to political pressure.

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Zulu 22

Who is responsible, the PCC, well he has ultimate control doesn't he?

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Cathedral Bobby
23 minutes ago, Zulu 22 said:

Who is responsible, the PCC, well he has ultimate control doesn't he?

Well I bet he won't resign, the PCCs being the bulwark of British Policing - NOT. The stupidity is the compensation will probably have paid for a PC salary for a year.

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IrateShrike

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/mar/08/race.ukcrime

Some 12-13 years ago it was acknowledged that positive action in police recruitment could easily become positive discrimination.  For another force to fall foul of it is unacceptable.

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SD

Bosses don’t  know what positive action actually means. In GMP at the moment it’s rife with people not Keating the criteria so it’s overlooked or ignored. We’ve people who’s English is so poor we’re giving them flexible shift to fit in with English lessons. Hell, we even recruited someone who couldn’t walk properly then had to get rid months later when they were unable to pass the PST training.

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