Protecting Our Members From False Allegations

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Police Staff Service Group Conference 2005
25 February 2005

UNISON has fought for years for equality in all areas. We have had some successes, including some excellent employment laws. However, as many lesbian, gay and bisexual people are aware, these laws can sometimes be used against us and when they are, there is very little in the way of information and support.

There are situations in the police service where members find themselves alone with one other colleague or one member of the public. Unfortunately, this can make our members vulnerable to false accusations of sexual harassment.

Without question we must support anyone going through genuine harassment and without doubt UNISON and other trade unions must continue to provide information and support. However, many of us either have first hand experience or experience of representing members who are clearly the victim of false allegations. Using the harassment policy can represent an easy way to harass someone through false accusations that are malicious in nature and can have devastating effects on our members’ health and career prospects.

Whilst welcoming the strides we have made in saying harassment in any form is not acceptable, we need to be aware of the dangers that we may be more vulnerable to false allegations being made against us. We also need to be aware that some groups of our police membership, for example lesbian, gay and bisexual police staff, may be particular targets for such false allegations.

A starting point should be to gather evidence of just how many members, including lesbian, gay and bisexual people, have suffered at the hands of false accusers, as well as the outcomes of such cases. We need to ensure that the right to representation of members who are accused of harassment is also met according to UNISON’s policies and procedures.

This Conference calls on:

1) The Police Service Group Executive, Regional Police Committees and all Police Branches to raise awareness of these issues, in liaison with the Self-Organised Groups;

2) National and local negotiators to ensure issues are raised with employers when negotiating harassment policies;

3) The Police Service Group Executive to issue guidance to branches and report back to next year’s Conference on progress.