Thousands more police officers to help rid force of ‘canteen culture’

Police Scotland has previously been accused of having a 'culture of misogyny' at all levels.

Thousands more Police Scotland officers enlisted to help rid force of ‘canteen culture’ STV News

Thousands of Police Scotland officers and staff will be enlisted to help stamp out offensive banter and so-called canteen culture from the force.

The plans, which will see around 5,000 more officers take part in the mandatory programme, were announced ahead of Thursday’s meeting of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).

The Policing Together update, which is set to be presented to the authority by deputy chief constable Fiona Taylor, said the programme is designed to “enhance leadership behaviours”.

The SPA will be told it is “clear issues persist” from looking at exit interviews and feedback, and that in order to rid the force of “canteen culture” those in leadership must drive the change.

The 16-page report said: “There is an expectancy on leaders to reinforce that offensive ‘banter’, sexual harassment, bullying, demeaning or intimidating actions, homophobia, casual racism and, discrimination towards those with disabilities are not compatible with the values of a police officer or member of staff.

“Policing is relentless and often puts our officers and staff in difficult and demanding situations; many will use humour, banter and ‘canteen culture’ as a way of coping with these stresses.

“However, when analysing grievances, exit interviews and survey/consultation feedback, it is clear issues persist.

“One such issue is claiming ‘it’s just banter’ or ‘it’s just a joke’ to justify or disguise offensive and inappropriate comments and behaviour to their colleagues and/or members of the public.”

The document said “in order to rid itself of what has been described as ‘canteen culture’, people entrusted with positions of leadership must lead the desired culture change”.

The report added: “The public have a right to expect that any officer or member of staff employed by the police service in Scotland will be held to a high standard. Otherwise we cannot rightly ask them to have confidence in us as individuals or as service.”

The Your Leadership Matters programme was rolled out to senior leaders at superintendent or police staff equivalent and above in 2021.

In April this year it launched for chief inspectors and their staff equivalents, the document said, and in the coming months it will be rolled out to around 5,000 sergeants, inspectors and their police staff equivalents with line management responsibilities.

It is a mandatory programme, and the force said it represents a “significant investment in our leaders and a commitment to improving the existing workplace culture”.

Police Scotland has previously been accused of having a “culture of misogyny” at all levels.

Women who have worked in the police have spoken out about their experiences, and Rhona Malone won almost £1m in compensation from the force after an employment tribunal ruled she had been victimised while raising sexism concerns.