An employment tribunal has revealed how a female police sergeant was victimised by Northamptonshire Police after she made allegations of sexism inside the force.
It found how senior staff consciously tried to ferret out any historic dirt they could pin on her, while a male PC who had kept a pornographic playing card in his official notebook was given the lowest sanction possible.
Sergeant Lara Alexander-Lloyd was pursued after she claimed she was the victim of sexual discrimination and harassment, the tribunal found.
After making the complaint, she was then made the subject of a period of victimisation by Northamptonshire Police’s Professional Standards Department (PSD).
The tribunal heard the problems between Sgt Alexander-Lloyd and two police officers – named in the judgement as PC Ed Horsburgh and PC Steve Dursley – dated back to August 2011, when she complained of sexual discrimination.
She said the pair made “grossly offensive sexual remarks to female colleagues” and took pornographic playing cards into the police station.
The officers, who were part of the Northampton south west sector team, were then investigated by the PSD.
The department found PC Horsburgh took the pornographic playing cards into the force.
However, even after “a challenge from a supervisor”, he still decided to carry around one of the sex cards in his official notebook.
It emerged he was dealt with by way of “management action”, the lowest sanction possible, which was not put on his record.
PC Dursley was given a written warning.
However, Sgt Alexander-Lloyd was then made the subject of a nine-month probe by the force.
Employment Judge Colm O’Rourke said the PSD tried to ferret out examples of misconduct in her past.
One officer accused her of calling him a cheese and she was also accused of using a derogatory term “at some point up to two years previously”.
The head of HR at the force feared there was “a plan afoot to discredit her”.
The probe resulted in a 52-page dossier being compiled by Supt Pete Windridge, head of professional standards, and Sgt Alexander-Lloyd being hauled before a disciplinary hearing.
An employment tribunal, which was held in July in Bedford and was made public this week, found Northamptonshire Police did victimise her.
It criticised the “historical and trivial” nature of the charges and the “disparate treatment” of the officers.
The secretary of the county’s branch of the Police Federation said the tribunal judgement highlighted a concerning “culture” that had existed inside the force.
Neil Goosey said: “During the course of the initial employment tribunal claim, as well as the subsequent victimisation claim, Lara displayed incredible resolution, professionalism and compassion.
“I think it is most unfortunate that other senior managers failed to demonstrate those qualities. By pursuing her to the degree that they did, it showed the type of culture that existed at the time, where you would be pursued for misconduct if you challenged inappropriateness in the workplace.
“I think the culture is now changing and the force can take some organisational learning to move forwards.”