Police force admits it discriminated against white men

A police force that rejected 108 potential recruits because they were white men has admitted positive discrimination and agreed to pay compensation.

Gloucestershire Constabulary said that it had been trying to increase diversity with its policy of selecting women and candidates from ethnic minorities. But at an employment tribunal in Bristol yesterday, the force admitted that its actions were unlawful and agreed to pay compensation to one potential recruit. Further claims from the other 107 men, who were told by the force that they had been “randomly deselected”, could now follow.

Clive Tomer, chairman of the tribunal, said yesterday that Gloucestershire Constabulary had been “at the very least disingenuous and at worst misleading”. He ordered that the claimant, Matt Powell, should be given £2,500 for injury to feelings.

The tribunal was told that Mr Powell, 30, had applied to join the force in October last year after seeing a job advertisement in a local paper. A month later, after being told that he had progressed to the second stage of the recruitment process, he left his job as an IT team leader at Filton College to concentrate on his application.

But in January he received a letter saying that he had been “randomly deselected”. Despite repeated calls to the force’s human resources department, he was never given an explanation for his rejection.

In April the Commission for Racial Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission started an investigation. They reported that the force had unlawfully discriminated on the grounds of race and sex.

The tribunal was told that two thirds of white men who applied to join the force in last year’s recruitment drive had been turned down. Every ethnic minority candidate who applied had been invited to an assessment centre.

Speaking at the tribunal, Mr Powell said: “I didn’t come here for the money. I just want to be heard. I firmly believe a wrong has been done here. I was, I still am, desperate to be a police officer and they have unfairly discriminated against me.”

Nigel Tillott, his lawyer, said: “It is now clear how far public authorities can go in positive discrimination. What they cannot do is discriminate against white males.”

Gordon Ramsey, the head of human resources, apologised yesterday and said: “We were trying to advance diversity in the force and we thought at the time that this was lawful, positive action. When we found out after an independent investigation by the Commission for Racial Equality that it wasn’t lawful, we accepted that.”