A female police officer has been awarded £15,000 after failing a grueling fitness test to become a dog handler – and now the rules are changing.
Constable Kim-Louise Carter was up against a ten-mile run before she had to carry a dog over a course known as ‘The Long Walk’, in wet and muddy conditions.
She claimed that the test put women at a disadvantage because it was too physically tough to pass as she struggled to keep up with her male equivalents.
Miss Carter, 31 won a landmark sex-discrimination case proving that the system to become a dog handler was too demanding for some women.
A female police constable has been awarded £15,000 after a sex-discrimination tribunal that proved the way police forces recruit dog handlers is unfair
Gloucester, Avon and Somerset and Wiltshire police forces all used the test that Miss Carter tackled.
As a result each constabularly has a higher percentage of male dog handlers compared to female, the employment tribunal in Bristol heard.
During the hearing Judge Street ordered that the three police forces must review their exam course. But this may affect other constabularies where women officers have struggled to complete the taxing fitness challenge.
Miss Carter told the tribunal that she became exhausted while carrying a dog that weighed 35kg, appropriately named Hulk, up a hill.
Although the test has the same pass rate the tribunal decided that the it was harder for women to pass than men therefore making it discriminatory
She also said that she ‘dug deep, real deep’ to keep up with the men who were moving at a faster pace than her.
She added: ‘I could lift the dog but had nothing left to carry him. I just couldn’t get any momentum’, reports The Telegragh.
Miss Carter’s goal to become a dog hander within the Gloucestershire constabularly, where she is still a serving officer, ended when she was withdrawn from the two-and-a-half-hour exam.
The female police constable, who began her policing career as a community support officer in 2005 before becoming a constable in 2013, said the test favoured men more than women.
The tribunal heard that out of 48 dog handles in the Gloucester force just four were women. While Avon and Somerset had three women out of 24 handlers and Whiltshire had four women out of 12 in total.
However the defence for the forces said that in order to succeed as a dog handler it is vital to be phyiscally fit as tracking criminals over long periods of time in debilitating conditions and then arresting the criminal was especially challenging.
During the test Miss Carter undertook a ten-mile run before she had to carry a dog over a course known as ‘The Long Walk’, in wet and muddy conditions
There is a higher pass rate of men because they have different levels of strength and stamina than women and that the ‘qualifying situation’ need to be reviewed.
These findings were published last week following the tribunal which took place over four days between October and November last year.
Judge Street said: ‘Where a standard test had negative impacts on members of a protected group, here women, then it either needs to be changed or objectively justified.’
The judge agreed women were at particular disadvantage compared with men and awarded Miss Carter a total of £14,930 for indirect sex discrimination.
A spokesman for Gloucestershire police said the three forces were now reviewing the judges’ recommendations.