A REVIEW of Police Scotland has uncovered “ongoing discrimination against minoritised communities”, including racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Conducted by an independent review group, the report also raises concerns around police workload and training.

The Scottish Police Authority report states that it has heard “a degree of scepticism and even outright fear” from staff concerned about raising issues informally or formally.

It says that some people have been “punished” for speaking out, for instance by being sidelined or moved to a less convenient location, and that others gave "first-hand accounts of racism, sexism, and homophobia".

The report further tells of overworked sergeants, inspectors, and chief inspectors who have insufficient training. It describes middle managers as “the sponges”, who are assigned with absorbing tasks from the top and bottom.

READ MORE: Struggle against restraints played 'major' role in Sheku Bayoh's death, inquiry hears

In response to the pressing workload, the review group expressed concerns about the high number of temporary promotions used to fill employment gaps over extended periods of time. The group also mentions cases where “officers were deemed to have failed assessment processes”.

Similarly, the report raises questions regarding Police Scotland’s equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) training. Administered through a self-directed online module, this training approach was “almost universally criticised” amongst those interviewed.

Referred to by some as a “tick-box approach” and a “knowledge dump”, it said the effect of Police Scotland’s diversity training is limited by not being mandatory or meaningfully assessed. Instead, the review group calls for interactive, face-to-face EDI learning, as it currently adds “little or no value” with regards to raising awareness on these vital issues.

Referring specifically to the cases of Rhona Malone and Sheku Bayoh, the report stated “a general acknowledgement that Police Scotland was far from immune from the issues raised”.

The National: Rhona Malone

Former officer Rhona Malone (above) was awarded nearly £1 million by Police Scotland last year following a sex discrimination case in what she described as “absolute boys club culture”.

Sheku Bayoh, who was restrained by six police officers, died in police custody in Kirkcaldy eight years ago. The inquiry into the circumstances of his death is ongoing at Capital House in Edinburgh to determine whether race was a factor.

Responding to the review, Scottish Greens MSP Maggie Chapman told The National: "There is no place for sexism, racism, homophobia or any form of prejudice and discrimination in our police force or in any other area of public service.

"Police officers, in the course of their work, will engage closely with vulnerable communities. They can only do this well if there is mutual respect and trust. Findings like those in this report will only undermine that trust and respect.”

She added: "The report will also be of concern to the police officers and other workers from marginalised backgrounds and minoritised communities. These workers should be able to do their jobs in a supportive and welcoming environment, as should any worker.”

Whilst acknowledging recent efforts of Police Scotland to launch EDI initiatives, projects, and activities, the report concludes that “there is an urgent need to prioritise, streamline and mainstream” the implementation of equality, diversity, and inclusion.

In particular, the review suggests greater coordination within Police Scotland’s approach to monitoring and evaluation. “Appear[ing] to lack consistency and rigour”, the independent review group notes the police’s need for deeper knowledge on how to identify and address EDI issues.

Speaking on the new report, a spokesperson for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said: “The law is clear: no one should be subjected to harassment or victimised at work. As an employer and a public body, the Equality Act 2010 requires Police Scotland to protect their employees and the public from discrimination.”

READ MORE: TikTok influencer admits to stalking Scots football star Billy Gilmour

In 2022, Police Scotland launched the Policing Together Strategy with the aim of driving equality and inclusion. As the second-largest police service in the UK after the Metropolitan Police Service, Police Scotland employs approximately 23,000 officers and staff.

Responding to The National’s request for comment, Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: “Because of policing’s position of trust and authority in society we are held to high standards and through rigorous recruitment, vetting, prevention, and conduct measures our vigilance has never been stronger.”

The report was released in advance of an authority meeting taking place in Glasgow on Thursday May 25. The group will engage in the next phase of the review with the final report to be issued in early 2024.