Payout for policeman in race bias case

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The Independent Online
A BLACK policeman who accused Kent police of racism has won 'significant' compensation in an out-of-court settlement and an apology from the Chief Constable.

Detective Constable Barry Thompson, 30, the first Afro- Caribbean officer in the Cambridgeshire force, claimed he was the victim of racial abuse and discrimination during a three-month secondment to Kent police to attend a course for new detectives.

As the only black among the 22 officers attending the course, he claims he was referred to by senior officers as a 'stereotypical black man' and that his BMW car was described as a 'pimpmobile'. His two-year battle to prove his claims was scheduled to culminate in a hearing at an industrial tribunal later this month.

Yesterday Kent police said David Phillips, the Chief Constable had reviewed the matter and 'identified shortcomings in the training system'. Improvements were being implemented. Mr Phillips has apologised to Mr Thompson for the distress he might have suffered.

Yesterday Mr Thompson, who joined Cambridgeshire police in 1982, said: 'When any black officer complains about racism he is out there on his own. It is an isolating experience.' He said he was grateful for the support of his own chief constable, the Police Federation, friends and some colleagues.

He added that his case was an important step forward for ethnic minority police officers. 'The general climate of policing has changed and the apology from the Chief Constable of Kent speaks for itself.'

A condition of the settlement was that the level of compensation awarded remain confidential, but Mr Thompson's solicitor said the sum was 'significant and realistic'.