Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Another victory for the lawyers

A Sikh police officer in Greater Manchester, PC Singh, has been 'deeply offended' by being told by his colleagues to remove his turban. He claims he was humiliated and is now claiming £200k in compensation and this humiliation was caused because he could not wear his turban for riot training. He was told to wear a helmet.

Greater Manchester Police defend themselves by saying that this police officer was not forced to go through the riot training. However PC Singh also says he was barred from riding a bike because he would not remove his turban. It seems a little strange that Sikhs should be exempt from wearing a helmet on a motorbike but the GMP compels Sikhs to wear helmets.

Now my knowledge of law is fairly basic and I expect a police officer to have a much greater knowledge, but the way I see it is they should look at PC Singh's contract. If he signed a contract that says he has to wear a helmet then he has to wear one. The debate may be about whether he was able to exempt himself from riot training. It seems so easy to me. If you have a contract that exempts you then you don't do it. Both the employer and employee should know the score without going to court and without any possibilities of payouts of hundreds of thousands of pounds. If there has been a breakdown in communication then both parties have some responsibility for this. What is sure is that the lawyers will win this one.

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  1. The contract issue is a red herring.
    Every police officer is required to carry out duties to protect the public and uphold law and order without fear or favour. To exempt an officer from any duty, especially dangerous ones, is an act of discrimination.
    If an officer does not agree with the duties he is required to perform he should resign.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I think we will have to wait for the court's decision but I think PC Singh's case must rest on his contract.

  3. Two out of fifteen grievances have been upheld by the court. One was for harassment by a senior officer and the other was "indirect discrimination" because the rules around the riot training lacked "clarity". A clear policy on dealing with Sikh officers and diversity issues needs to be implemented. Compensation will be announced tomorrow.