Police chief tries to stamp out male culture

Click to follow
The Independent Online
A detective was made to resign yesterday and two of his colleagues received hefty fines following "unacceptable behaviour" at a party in a police training centre. Alexandra Williams asks if the first woman Chief Constable is determined to stamp out macho male culture within the police force.

The tough disciplinary action followed a party held at Lancashire police headquarters involving a strippagram dressed as a policewoman.

Detective Constable Joseph Scanlan, 32, pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct in a two-day disciplinary hearing. He was asked to resign by the Chief Constable of Lancashire Pauline Clare. Another officer, Detective Constable Mark Shepherd, 29, was fined pounds 1,000 and a third, Detective Constable Philip Dawson, was fined pounds 500.

Mrs Clare is Britain's first woman chief constable. She was appointed in June 1995 in the wake of the sex discrimination case which Alison Halford, an assistant chief constable, brought against the force but eventually dropped after an agreement on a cash package and pension.

The severity of the penalties imposed on the officers is seen by some as an indication of Mrs Clare attempting to stamp out the male-dominated canteen culture.

Roger Graef, a criminologist, film maker and author of books about the police force and produced the documentary series on the Thames Valley Police, said Mrs Clare's actions were very positive.

"It's very rare for such penalties to result from a hearing. She has sent a signal within her force that this kind of thing can't be tolerated. Many chief constables feel the same way as Mrs Clare but it's very hard to change this canteen culture."

"This may pave the way for further developments. She'll probably be hated and used as an example as to why we shouldn't have women chief constables but there'll be a lot of officers quietly celebrating tonight," he said.

Mrs Clare heard how officers licked cream and chocolate from the body of a 17-year-old strippagram in a bar attached to a police training centre at the Lancashire police headquarters in Hutton.

The incident, attended by more than 60 officers, was filmed by the stripper's minder and subsequently sold to two Sunday newspapers which printed stills. Twenty-two officers from 11 forces were brought before the hearing for their behaviour at the party on 3 February.