Women police bring equality cases

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The Independent Online
A SENIOR Scotland Yard officer charged with improving the image of the force is under investigation for a breach of the discipline code, following an allegation of sexual harassment by a woman colleague.

As a consequence of the allegation, Detective Superintendent Bill Grahamslaw, who works for the Plus Programme, is also named in one of three industrial tribunal cases which are being brought by female officers who claim they suffered sexual discrimination. A number of other senior officers are also named.

The allegation against Det Supt Grahamslaw relates to incidents - said not to be of a physical nature - which are claimed to have occurred during his period as head of the youth and community section for the Hackney area of east London, based at Stoke Newington police station.

Scotland Yard confirmed yesterday that an investigation into the allegations was being carried out. Such inquiries would automatically follow allegations of this type.

The matter is likely to further damage the image of the force at a time when it is desperately striving to reform.

The three actions, which are all being contested, raise questions about the commitment of both junior and senior officers to improve attitudes and the effectiveness of internal grievance procedures.

The discipline investigation follows a complaint lodged on behalf of the officer, Constable Julia Parish, by her MP.

PC Parish, now stationed in a different part of east London, declined to comment.

At the time PC Parish, 31, who joined the force in 1983, was working in plain clothes for the local child protection unit.

PC Parish has lodged a separate sexual discrimination action, claiming that she received an adverse annual appraisal report, that her senior officers failed to respond adequately to her complaint about Mr Grahamslaw and that another senior officer suggested she should resign. A preliminary hearing is due to take place next week.

A second discrimination case involves Constable Sarah Locker, 31, an officer for 12 years who also worked in east London. PC Locker, who has a Turkish background, claims both sexual and race discrimination, saying she was repeatedly passed over for promotion to CID while 'less experienced' white male colleagues were given postings.

She claims that when she became pregnant senior officers implied that her condition would be a bar to promotion, and that when she returned to work afterwards she would have to resume uniform work from plain clothes duties.

A full hearing in the case is scheduled for next year. At a hearing this week, the Metropolitan Police is appealing against an order by the tribunal granting disclosure of documents to PC Locker's lawyers. The case is being funded by the Equal Opportunities Commission.

Constable Tracey Scanlon, who is based at Wimbledon, south- west London, is also bringing a similar action claiming she was passed over for promotion.

Other actions are said to be either being contemplated or have been lodged by women officers who claim that the reality of life in some parts of the force does not match the image-making.