Simon de Bruxelles, Times (London), March 15, 2006
A police force that broke sex and race discrimination laws with its recruitment policy has paid an undisclosed sum to a disappointed job applicant who was rejected solely because he was a white man.
Avon and Somerset police discarded nearly 200 applications from young white men after a recruitment drive last year to give greater opportunity to women and ethnic minority candidates. It claimed that white males were “over-represented” on the force.
Colin Port, the Chief Constable, admitted last week that it had been unlawful for the force to select applicants solely on the grounds of race and sex.
Yesterday the force confirmed that it had reached an out-of-court settlement with a rejected candidate who had taken his case to an employment tribunal. The settlement could now open the way to claims by the other 185 who were turned down.
The payment was made last week to Ralph Welsman, of Bristol. Mr Welsman’s solicitor, Jennifer Andrews, said: “We are pleased that Avon and Somerset police has admitted that they discriminated against Mr Welsman. The law is there to protect everyone from being subjected to discrimination.
“There are instances where organisations want to ensure that their workforce is representative of the local community to meet the needs of the public.
“If this need is justified there are ways of doing this within the law. Avon and Somerset police acted outside these legal boundaries.”
In a statement, Mr Welsman said: “I am happy that the police have admitted that they were wrong to discriminate against me on the grounds of race and sex.”
Avon and Somerset police rejected suggestions that Mr Welsman had received as much as £25,000 but refused to disclose the figure.
Nearly 800 people applied for 180 vacancies at Avon and Somerset police but 186 of those from white men were rejected at the first stage on the grounds of their race and sex. White women subsequently filled 49 per cent of the 180 posts, black and ethnic — minority males 4 per cent and ethnic-minority women 1 per cent.
The Police Federation and the Commission for Racial Equality condemned the force’s employment policy.
Mr Port said last week: “It was not, and has never been, our intention to discriminate against anyone who applies for a position with Avon and Somerset Constabulary. At the time we considered that this represented an untried and untested area.”
The policy has since been scrapped.