Civil Nuclear Constabulary found guilty of sex discrimination against two Firearm Officers

An Employment Tribunal has found the Civil Nuclear Constabulary guilty of discrimination against two of its female Authorised Firearm Officers (AFOs) in the provision of suitable firearms and safety equipment.

Victoria Wheatley and Rachael Giles are officers based in two different installations, who complained separately of sex discrimination at regular mandatory test shoots.

The Constabulary failed to provide any differing equipment and provisions for the two officers who were petit in stature, with small hands and so struggled with the grip for the Glock 17 pistol 3rd generation. The tribunal heard that the grips could have been adjusted but, trainers failed to change them, whilst still expecting the officers to control and accurately fire the weapon.

In her statement to the tribunal, Victoria Wheatley explained that she could not reach the trigger if she held the firearm correctly and asked on several occasions for a smaller and more suitable grip.

Their solicitor, Binder Bansel of Pattinson & Brewer commented “Since 1997, every officer joining at the rank of Constable or Sergeant is required to train to recognised standards as an AFO and maintain the standard. There is a cycle of annual training shoots, with usually two development training days in a year and a further two development days, which conclude with a Qualification Shoot.

Continued failure at these shoot days results in an unsatisfactory assessment, which could lead to the officer being dismissed. The Constabulary failed to take the necessary steps to prevent female officers being disadvantaged.”

Both officers complained of other problems too, when taking these tests. Equipment that was meant to offer them important protection was ill fitting – helmets and kneepads were too large, once again impeding their performance.

A wooden barricade designed to replicate cover and offer a resting place for the Glock firearm was another piece of equipment which could not be used by the two officers, as the barricade was built for an officer of average male height, offering support only for those much taller. The tribunal found there was no justification for this.

The tribunal heard that the two officers had raised their concerns, on a regular basis, but they were often dismissed, with no adequate consideration.

Victoria Wheatley and Rachael Giles are members of the Civil Nuclear Police Federationwho supported their claims of sex discrimination and victimisation. After hearing the judgement, Nigel Dennis, chief executive said “The Federation are here to support all our officers and we are very pleased with the outcome, which recognised the discrimination the two officers and their other female colleagues face. The Federation hopes that the Constabulary will move quickly to remove this disadvantage and ensure all officers have a fair opportunity”

Firm News, Marcus Weatherby,
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