Police reverse ban on colour-blind cops


POLICE Scotland have reversed their blanket ban on recruiting colour-blind officers.

An aspiring police officer, who was rejected from the force, mounted a legal bid to have the decision overturned.

The recruit had passed all of the other tests to begin training to become a police officer.


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But was told his moderate colour-blindness meant he would be unable to pursue a career in the force.

As the candidate, was set to launch a bid for damages at an employment tribunal, the force confirmed it had changed its policy and he would be allowed in.

Police Scotland confirmed: “Colour-blindness will no longer be an obstacle for recruiting.”

Solicitor Stephen Smith, represented the candidate, who did not wish to be named, said his client was now looking forward to “a long and fruitful career in the police”.

Mr Smith, of Glasgow Law Practice, said: “I know there have been people who have tried to join the police and have been refused because of this policy in the past, and our client had been trying for more than a year.

“Who knows how many officers have been refused entry over the years?

“This decision recognises the aim of anti-discrimination law is to ensure employers look at the individual’s own circumstances and how any hurdles in the way of them being able to work in a role can be overcome.

“If the hurdle can be overcome relatively easily, it is not going to be a good enough excuse for employers to turn down candidates who are highly motivated and have worked hard to qualify for roles.

Between 2004-2008, eight candidates were rejected by the now dissolved Strathclyde Police force because they had a form of red-green colour-blindness – usually found only in men.




Those who had previously been rejected from the police because of colour-blindness are to be contacted by Police Scotland and invited to re-apply.

Mr Smith argued that as colour-blindness affects more men than women, the previous policy was discriminatory towards males.

He also argued a blanket ban was unlawful and recruits should instead be considered on a case-by-case basis, given there are different degrees of colour blindness.

They believe that issues involving colour-blind officers being unable to fulfill their role efficiently could be solved by pairing them with offices with full vision.

Scottish Government guidance, published in 2003, had stated full colour perception was not a requirement to become an operational police constable.

However, the ban on colour-blind officers continued and Police Scotland has maintained its previous stance was legal.

Chief Inspector Alison Higgins, of Police Scotland’s Training and Recruitment centre, said: “We are committed to keep people safe and all our officers contribute to helping us achieve this.

“I can confirm we have now reviewed our policy and for some people their level of colour-blindness will not longer be an obstacle for recruiting.

“Previous candidates rejected on this basis will all be written to and advised of the change of the policy and invited to re-apply.

“While we are content our previous recruitment processes and procedures were legally sound met the guidance laid down in the determination of Scottish ministers for the assessment of eyesight standards for constables, it was felt this change of policy was necessary to improve accessibility and opportunity and help support the building of an inclusive workforce.”

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