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Don't let 'racist language' officer back to work or give her appeal's cash winnings, force pleads


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Northumbria announces decision to challenge tribunal decision to give PC job back.

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Northumbria Police: Fighting tribunal decision

Date - 12th April 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle

A police force is to challenge a decision to give an officer her job back after she was sacked for an “abhorrent” racist slur on a Christmas party night out with colleagues.

Northumbria Police originally dismissed PC Katie Barratt last year following a misconduct hearing after she was said to have used the phrase f****** p*** about staff at a Newcastle takeaway while waiting for a pizza.

But last month she turned the tables at a Police Appeal Tribunal – winning a reinstatement when a panel agreed the force could have used a less severe punishment and downgraded the “unreasonable” ruling to a final warning.

Straight after the tribunal the force said it would consider its options, and this afternoon Deputy Chief Constable Darren Best announced it would ask for a judicial review of the panel's controversial decision.

DCC Best said the force would also be seeking a court order to prevent PC Barratt returning to work during the proceedings or receive the reported £15,000 back salary the tribunal directed be paid.

He said: "First and foremost, the language used by the officer that night was abhorrent.

"I want to be absolutely clear that racist language is completely unacceptable.

"I am extremely disappointed by the appeal tribunal's decision.

"As a force we are committed to challenging this and will therefore be applying for judicial review.”

DCC Best said it should be stressed that the appeal tribunal was independent of Northumbria Police.

He added: "I want to assure the public that the actions of one individual are not representative of the officers and staff who display unwavering professionalism and commitment every single day, as they protect the communities we serve and in doing so they have my full and absolute support."

Mr Best praised PC Barratt's colleague who reported what she had said on the night out, and which was not heard by the takeaway staff.

The first misconduct hearing was told she made the derogatory comments to colleagues and they were not heard by the staff in the Spice of Punjab.

Senior officers were informed about what she had said on the night out in 2017, and an investigation was launched.

PC Barratt was sacked after a misconduct hearing at Houghton police station in Tyne and Wear in June last year with the force arguing her comments could “seriously damage” the reputation of the service.

Her barrister Guy Ladenburg said the slurs, while an “abomination”, were “not the worst kind of racism”.

View On Police Oracle

Previous thread on this below

https://police.community/topic/328709-police-officer-who-was-sacked-for-racist-drunken-rant-in-indian-takeaway-after-force-christmas-party-wins-her-job-back-and-£15000-back-pay-following-appeal/page/2/

 
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Whilst I do question the logic of the force seeking a Judicial Review, the decision of PAT was nonetheless ‘unexpected’.

 

There is actually an overwhelming public interest in a JR considering the decision. If they endorse it, then this provides a precedent for future decisions.

 

Matters of police discipline have often been binary, whereby everything is black and white. Someone either ‘did’ or ‘didn’t do’ something but there has often been a lack of consideration as to where any action or behaviour that actually happened sat on the ‘spectrum of naughtiness’.

 

 

 

 

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Just now, ParochialYokal said:

Whilst I do question the logic of the force seeking a Judicial Review, the decision of PAT was nonetheless ‘unexpected’.

 

There is actually an overwhelming public interest in a JR considering the decision. If they endorse it, then this provides a precedent for future decisions.

 

Matters of police discipline have often been binary, whereby everything is black and white. Someone either ‘did’ or ‘didn’t do’ something but there has often been a lack of consideration as to where any action or behaviour that actually happened sat on the ‘spectrum of naughtiness’.

 

 

 

 

Problem with police discipline is 43 forces, 43 CCs, 43 professional standards units, number of different outcomes for similar offences? Possibly 43

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Problem with police discipline is 43 forces, 43 CCs, 43 professional standards units, number of different outcomes for similar offences? Possibly 43

 

Exactly and there is limited case law to govern decision making.

 

What also makes it more complex is that Police Misconduct Hearings are Chaired by independent legally qualified individuals whom earn very little. They presumably only participate in ad-hoc hearings very infrequently to bolster their CV; unless, of course, they are so rubbish lawyers that they are actually doing it for the money. Either way, there is no consistency in individuals whom Chair these hearings and there is limited case law for them to use as a point of reference.

 

We need a police discipline system that allows people to put their hands up to mistakes knowing that, whilst they will face career limiting sanctions, they won’t necessarily ‘lose everything’ by admitting mistakes.

 

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Just now, ParochialYokal said:


We need a police discipline system that allows people to put their hands up to mistakes knowing that, whilst they will face career limiting sanctions, they won’t necessarily ‘lose everything’ by admitting mistakes.

Seems we see a number of cases overturned on appeal which would indicate to me that there is something amiss with the current system.

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A perhaps unintended effect of things such as the Stephen Lawrence Enquiry is that it has become very difficult to discuss racism within the police from an objective point of view, because people are generally afraid of being labelled as racist themselves for daring to be balanced and rational.  Of course, a Police Appeal Tribunal must be just that and they have nothing to fear which is why their decision doesn't really come as a surprise.

DCC Best said "First and foremost, the language used by the officer that night was abhorrent."  Even though this could well be stated with complete sincerity, rightly or wrongly it just screams at me someone who is doing their very best not to get on the wrong side of PR failure and risk their career in the process.

Edited by Lone Wolf
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It does seem slightly extraordinary if they found that the officer did use the language alleged but are happy with a final warning. 

It seems completely incompatible with policing. You don't accidentally say these things. 

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14 minutes ago, SimonT said:

It does seem slightly extraordinary if they found that the officer did use the language alleged but are happy with a final warning. 

It seems completely incompatible with policing. You don't accidentally say these things. 

I am generally in agreement, but then add in alcohol and anything becomes possible. We have all seen the most mild mannered of people turn into monsters when fuelled with drink.

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The remark was undoubtedly wrong and should not have been made. However it was said to other colleagues and it was not heard by anyone else. She appealed and the tribunal upheld her appeal so it is a little disingenuous of the Force to refuse to accept a legal finding. 

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Just now, Zulu 22 said:

The remark was undoubtedly wrong and should not have been made. However it was said to other colleagues and it was not heard by anyone else. She appealed and the tribunal upheld her appeal so it is a little disingenuous of the Force to refuse to accept a legal finding. 

Well ultimately police forces should believe in the quasi judicial process that the appeal process is and accept the outcome, otherwise it undermines the concept. 

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There are instances where police officers have been convicted of crimes and allowed to keep their jobs (I recall a very recent example of an officer who was convicted of drink driving, dismissed and got subsequently got reinstated on appeal - I think the story is on this site somewhere).  I also know of at least one officer in my force who was convicted of assault that was committed on duty and they kept their job.  There was a news story a year or so back about how the Met were reconsidering their vetting policy and potentially recruiting more people with criminal backgrounds so as to be more inclusive.

So is this decision to reinstate PC Barratt really that surprising, considering she has not been convicted of any crime?  I would find it very difficult to work along side her knowing what she had done and perhaps a little selfishly I don't think I agree that it is correct she has got her job back, but then it's not all about the individuals.

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The remark was undoubtedly wrong and should not have been made. However it was said to other colleagues and it was not heard by anyone else. She appealed and the tribunal upheld her appeal so it is a little disingenuous of the Force to refuse to accept a legal finding. 

As disingenuous as she was when she refused to accept the original finding and appealed?
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There is no place for racist comments in the police. Our job is difficult enough with people believing we're "institutionally racist" without idiots making comments like that, and that she was going to be reinstated, wow. 🤦‍♂️

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