Would-Be Police Officer Denied Job for Being a White Male Wins Appeal

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 21: New Police recruits take part in a passing-out parade at the Metropolitan Police Academy at Peel House, Hendon on April 21, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah McKay - WPA Pool / Getty Images)
Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty

An aspiring police officer who was denied a job in his local police force because he was white, straight, and male has won his appeal against the decision.

Matthew Furlong, 25, applied to join Cheshire Police, following in the footsteps of his father Liam Furlong, but was rejected using the so-called “positive action” provisions in the Equality Act.

The force had previously received criticism for having no black police officers and so introduced the policy to try and increase diversity in their ranks.

Mr Furlong’s father complained about the decision and the case was taken to a tribunal which Mr Furlong won, with the court deciding that he had been discriminated against on the basis of his race, sex, and sexual orientation, reports the Manchester Evening News. 

The tribunal ruled that positive action can only be used in a so-called “tie break” situation in which two candidates for the role are equally qualified, and that did not apply in case of Mr Furlong, who has a degree in particle physics and cosmology.

The would-be recruit said the experience had “completely shattered” his faith in the police recruitment system.

He went on say that had he lied and claimed he was bisexual, for example, he would probably have been accepted based on that lie at the first time of asking.

“I absolutely agree that a force should represent the equality and diversity of the community it serves but that must be achieved legitimately and without discriminating against anyone,” he added.

Julie Cooke, Deputy Chief Constable of Cheshire police, said: “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.”

Ms Cooke claimed that at no point had the standards of the force’s recruits been reduced — although this would appear to be at odds with the tribunal’s ruling that they had turned down a high-quality candidate illegitimately in Mr Furlong.

The incident is the latest in a long line of instances of police forces pursuing positive action to the detriment of white male talent.

In February, Sara Thornton, head of Britain’s National Police Chiefs’ Council, suggested that full-scale discrimination should be legislated for to deliver a “shock to the system” and reduce the proportion of white male officers in line with their share of the general population, which is shrinking as local birthrates decline and mass immigration continues.

At present it is illegal under the Equalities Act 2010 to discriminate against people based on race, sexuality, or gender in employment, despite the “positive action” provisions.

However, in 2017, white, male candidates were reportedly banned from British Transport Police recruitment workshops around the country, as the ban on discrimination does not apply to paid “internships” and other training opportunities.

One candidate said: “I am a white heterosexual male and also a member of the armed forces, how can a public service blatantly support this kind of discrimination and inequality in 2017?”

He went on to say that he had withdrawn his application to the police force.

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