A RETIRED police officer was subjected to racial discrimination as he tried to move up the career ladder within North Yorkshire Police, an employment tribunal has ruled.

Zaheer Ahmed, who spent 23 years working for the force in York, Selby and Malton, was subjected to “unconscious race discrimination”, plus two instances of “direct discrimination”, due to his Pakistani ethnic origin.

The tribunal, at Teesside Magistrates' Court, decided that a white police sergeant who had passed his or her inspectors’ exams would have faced fewer obstacles to progression to the role of inspector than Mr Ahmed experienced.

Mr Ahmed told the tribunal, which was held last month, he applied for a custody sergeant role, but was told he was not suitable as he did not have enough experience.

He then claimed other “less experienced, less qualified, white” colleagues were assisted in applying for the role.

Mr Ahmed said a further application for a promotion was rejected in 2016, due to concerns with his performance, which he said was a “shock and a blow”.

The tribunal found that this decision not to provide support to Mr Ahmed was the result of “anecdotal opinions” provided in the validation meeting and there was a “post-decision search for further justification”.

The judgement of the tribunal states: “The tribunal has concluded that a white police sergeant who passed his or her inspectors’ exams and was seeking promotion would not have been treated in the way the claimant was to the extent that the various obstacles would not have been placed in that officer’s way.

“The tribunal is satisfied that the reason why the claimant was treated that way was as a result of unconscious race discrimination because of the claimant’s protected characteristic of his Pakistani ethnic origin.”

Amanda Oliver, Assistant Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police, said racial discrimination had no place in the police service or society, and the tribunal’s findings were “a matter of the gravest concern”.

She said: “Policing has come a long way in addressing overt discrimination, but that is not enough.

“We also have to help all of our officers, staff and volunteers to understand the issue of unconscious bias, and we want to provide a working environment where people from all parts of the community can thrive, and we can only do that if we have an organisational culture built on fairness for everyone. We are actively working on that.”

Speaking during the tribunal, Mr Ahmed said: “I had an immense sense of pride of being a police officer and that I was part of this organisation.

“To have experienced and witnessed the discrimination within the organisation, I can no longer be proud. I am disappointed and I am hurt.”

ACC Oliver said the force’s Positive Action Programme, which aims to improve the diversity of its workforce, was recognised by the tribunal, and she hoped the outcome would not put off potential recruits or current officers and staff from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

She said: “North Yorkshire Police employs a minimum of 44 police officers and police staff from black or minority ethnic backgrounds, and we are absolutely committed to making sure that every single one of those people has every possible chance to thrive in our organisation.

“I want to assure them, and future recruits, that the findings of this employment tribunal has strengthened our resolve even more. We will now reflect on the employment tribunal’s full judgement very carefully and consider what further action needs to be taken.”

A further hearing to consider the remedy to be awarded to Mr Ahmed will take place at a date to be confirmed.