The chief constable of Police Scotland on Thursday became Britain's most senior officer so far to admit his police force was institutionally racist and discriminatory. File photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo
May 25 (UPI) -- Scotland's most senior police officer publicly acknowledged Thursday that Police Scotland was "institutionally racist and discriminatory," as a first step to addressing the force's issues.
The right thing to do as chief constable was to "clearly state that institutional racism, sexism, misogyny and discrimination exist," Sir Iain Livingstone told a Scottish Police Authority meeting in Glasgow.
"Police Scotland is institutionally racist and discriminatory," he said adding that the prejudice and poor conduct exposed by recent court cases, reviews and complaints from staff was a matter of considerable disquiet that he wholly condemned.
"Publicly acknowledging these institutional issues exist is essential to our absolute commitment to championing equality and becoming an anti-racist service," Livingstone said, stressing recognition was not an acceptance that individuals in the organization were racist or sexist.
Livingstone, who is retiring in the summer, stressed that he had already overseen changes to recruitment to make it more rigorous including enhanced vetting of candidates, and introduced more transparency to conduct outcomes with a focus on preventing problems from arising in the first place.
Racism, sexism and homophobia experienced by officers and staff was detailed in the initial report of a review of the work culture of Police Scotland published this week.
The review also found that people who complained were penalized or found their career progression blocked.
Police Scotland paid out $1.2 million in damages to former firearms officer Rhona Malone last year after a tribunal found she had been subjected to a lengthy campaign of discrimination and ill-treatment in a workplace described as an "absolute boys' club," after complaining of sexism by a superior.
An independent review of London's elite Metropolitan Police by Baroness Casey published in March found the force was institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic, but Police Scotland's admission make it largest force to own up to such shortcomings after Bedfordshire force and the British Transport Police.
The Met has acknowledged it has issues with individual officers -- bad apples -- but has refused to acknowledge the institution is inherently racist, misogynistic or anti-gay.