cheshire police DCC Julie Cooke

Cheshire Police has been forced to review its recruitment process after an employment tribunal ruled it had discriminated against an individual applying to join them.

The case was brought by 25-year-old Matthew Furlong on the grounds of sexual orientation, race and sex.

The case related to the force’s 2017-18 police officer recruitment process and the Constabulary’s interpretation of the Equality Act 2010.

During this recruitment process, measures were applied to the final stages with the interview process leading to a pass/fail outcome rather than a scoring mechanism previously used.

The force treated all candidates who passed the interview – the final stage of the recruitment process – of equal merit.

However, as the intake was oversubscribed, a number of criteria were applied and candidates who met one or more of these criteria were offered places first.

A tribunal found the force had discriminated against Mr Furlong as it had unlawfully treated candidates with protected characteristics more favourably, and did not consider candidates who passed the interview could all have been of equal merit.

Deputy Chief Constable Julie Cooke (pictured) said: “We have reflected on our interpretation of the Act and thoroughly reviewed our practices to ensure that we comply with it.

“We accept the findings of the tribunal and have looked very carefully at our entire recruitment practice.

“Action has been taken to change some of our processes and take account of the hearing’s result.

“It is important for us, and for candidates, that the recruitment process is fair and transparent and that all candidates are treated in a fair and consistent manner.

“However, I would like to stress that these processes were put in place with the best of intentions to attract candidates from diverse communities, and at no time were the standards of our recruits reduced.”

The interview process now follows the College of Policing scoring guidelines and is based on the four values of the Competency & Values Framework (CVF) and is no longer based on a pass or fail.

The Constabulary’s recruitment process now applies positive action where there is a tie-breaker situation and two candidates are of equal merit and score the same at interview.

This is not applied in volume recruitment processes.

Mr Furlong has since accepted an offer of a job with the Constabulary and will be joining the organisation as a student officer in September.

DCC Cooke added: “We have a public-sector equality duty to take action to address under-representation, which continues to be a challenge in Cheshire.

“We will take positive action to achieve a workforce that truly represents our communities in accordance with the Equality Act.”

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