An officer who spoke out about sexism and bullying within Police Scotland says she has been “inundated” with calls detailing similar cases.
Firearms officer Rhona Malone, who is taking a second civil claim against the force over how she was treated, said: “For such a long time, I felt I was my own. Now I realise there is an institutional problem within Police Scotland after so many officers have come forward.”
We revealed last week how former officers in an elite armed unit covering the east of Scotland backed Ms Malone’s claims revealing a series of incidents involving bullying and inappropriate behaviour in a report sent to senior officers.
They also claimed the team was under pressure to work up to seven days a week while expected to make life-or-death decisions in critical situations.
Ms Malone, who claims to have been forced out of her job by sexism, said: “Many officers suffering similar bullying have reached out to me following last week’s reports. It’s distressing so many have seen what happened to me and, as a result, they are scared to speak out publicly because they worry about what might happen to their careers.”
The Scottish Parliament last week debated Police Scotland’s complaints procedures. Scottish Conservative Shadow Justice Secretary Liam Kerr raised the case of Police Constable Karen Harper and what happened when she challenged the force’s refusal to grant her flexible working for childcare needs.
The officer won her sex discrimination claim after being forced to retire on ill-health, but Mr Kerr said: “What angered her most was the corrosive saga that consumed her life for five years could have been prevented if only the system had been fair. Since the creation of Police Scotland there has been a relentless flow of revelations around the complaints process and governance.”
Mr Kerr called on the Scottish Government to publish a “tracker” to show which of almost 100 recommendations made by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini would be adopted and when. Ms Harper was told she had to “engage with the system” over her complaint, but said: “But what happens when the system is broken as Dame Elish has now confirmed? The police use vast sums of public money on lawyers to crush those with a legitimate grievance.”
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the Scottish Government would take time to review the recommendations of Dame Elish and would make any legislative amendments deemed necessary. He told MSPs: “Nobody is hiding away from the recommendations.”
Police Scotland said: “The significant majority of our officers and staff conduct themselves in line with our values of fairness, integrity, respect and with a commitment to upholding human rights.”