Male officers 'harassed PC'

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The Independent Online
A policewoman was subjected to nearly three years of victimisation and discrimination by male officers who wanted to get rid of her, an industrial tribunal was told yesterday.

Constable Sharron Empson, 34, is on extended sick leave after making 40 allegations of sexual discrimination and harassment against five male officers at Doncaster police station in South Yorkshire.

A preliminary tribunal in Sheffield was told that the officer, who lives in Doncaster, was called names and teased about her size, subjected to "rude behaviour" and forced to behave like one of the lads.

She claims that life was made difficult for her by certain officers, who purposely made themselves unavailable when she needed them, and her performance was subjected to "excessive scrutiny".

After a three-month attachment to a sexual abuse unit, the officer says she was even made to undergo "unlawful questioning and detention" by other officers. It was later suggested that she should resign or she would be dismissed.

PC Empson is claiming sex discrimination against South Yorkshire Police. She claims the discrimination began in November 1993 and went on until June 1996, but yesterday's hearing ruled that only three incidents could go before a full tribunal because the other alleged incidents did not occur within the legal time limit.

Louise Varty, for South Yorkshire Police, said: "It is said that, taken together, the allegations amount to a regime of discriminatory behaviour and a regime of victimisation."

PC Empson claimed that the incidents amounted to an "unwritten" policy of discrimination within the force. She has already used the force's internal grievance procedure but her solicitor, Tina Martin, told the tribunal: "She's done everything within her power to have the matters to which she was being subjected stopped and that did not happen."

The tribunal ruled that the allegations made outside the time limit could not be considered with more recent allegations because there was "no common thread" between them. A full hearing concerning the remaining allegations will be held later.