8 Sep 2014

Pc Carol Howard: ‘I was treated like an outcast by the Met’

She’s anxious  to show that she’s just a normal person, who happens to be a working mother and a serving police officer and to rid the impression from the Olympic Games poster that she’s some sort of glamour girl. Except what she’s achieved is anything but normal.

She has cowed the largest police force in the UK into rewriting its entire fairness to work procedures. An employment tribunal last week awarded her £37,000 compensation for race and sex discrimination.

She  exposed what many have suspected has always remained in various corners of the Metropolitan Police , a macho, white bullying  culture that goes unchecked because that’s the way some want it.

Today PC Carol Howard gave her first broadcast interview to Channel 4 News in which she talked about her suspicions of a cover up, her struggle to get justice, and her continuing fight to get change.

Pc Howard had high hopes in her Hendon Police Training School class of 2004. It was then she made a declaration to the Metropolitan Police. It was a proud moment….belonging to a new generation of police post the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. Fast forward 10 years and she’s now a proven victim of those old practices.

“I have had my personal life turned upside down. I have had the finger pointed at me as a trouble maker and someone who is incompetent. I have had my reputation denigrated. I have in effect been made an outcast to save their own necks. I refused to give up because I’m a mum and have two daughters. If anyone treats you differently you have to do the right thing and stand up for yourself.”

An employment tribunal found, as one of only two black firearms unit in the diplomatic protection group, Ms Howard had been harrassed, bullied and victimised by her acting Inspector David Kelly. ” I think he felt I had no place to be on his team because I was black and a woman.”

But it wasn’t just about one officer. Her ordeal went on for two years in a unit where only 10 of the 700 officers were women and only two of them were black.

Not one colleague came forward to given evidence on her behalf when her case came before the employment tribunal
” I feel that they were simply not prepared to put their heads above the parapet and speak up on my behalf. Life for them could be made very difficult. Ironically I sympathise with them because I know what the organisation can be like.”

And to make matters worse Ms Howard’s tribunal hearing found evidence of the Met’s attempts to remove her allegations of racial and sex discrimination from internal documents.

She says there’s clear evidence of a cover up. “Instructions were given by management and could only have come from management. That’s pretty damning.”

She describes what she’s been through as “hellish” but when I ask her why does she want to go back to an organisation which has treated her so badly she replies: “This case has nearly broken me. I have lost many friends. It’s made things very difficult for me.Why should I be forced out when I have given the organisation 13 years of my life?”

She says she’s hopes her case will now help many others to come forward and says she now wants a face to face meeting with the Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, so that he may be able to answer the question why has she been treated so badly.”

The Metropolitan Police in a statement to Channel 4 News tonight said they will fully support PC Howard’s return to work and accept there is learning from this case for which Pc Howard’s experiences will make sure this doesn’t happen to others.

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