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Equalities Commission forces recruitment review after PSNI case

Forces will have to review recruitment processes after a landmark case against PSNI ruled a man with autism had not been adequately helped with a job application.
Published - 24/09/2021 By - Chris Smith

The Equalities Commission has said forces must plan better for people with disabilities in recruitment processes.

It follows a successful case against the Police Service of Northern Ireland which found a man with autism, ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome had not been fully supported in his application for an administrative post.

The Commission said he had not been able to actively participate.

The PSNI is to review its procedures for recruiting people with disabilities following a settlement in the case.

The ruling will have legal effect across other forces.

The commission said the man had disclosed his autism on the job application form, but this was not followed up until he had successfully completed two parts of the three-stage recruitment process.

The applicant had achieved a foundation degree but has verbal communication challenges.

The third stage was a group interview and report. The commission said the man and his father made several phone calls to the recruitment firm, Honeycomb Jobs Ltd, to let them know that, because of his autism, the man would have severe difficulties effectively communicating within the planned group interview.

While the man was given extra time to read the pre-briefing and an extra 10 minutes and a word processor to write up what was discussed, the commission said he did not believe that effective reasonable adjustments were made at the group interview itself.

The commission said this meant that due to his disability the applicant was not able to actively participate.

After the case taken by the Equality Commission, the PSNI and the recruitment agency involved are each to pay the man £6,250 without admission of liability.

Mary Kitson, senior legal officer at the Equality Commission, said: “One of the main reasons we support cases like this is to drive change and improvement in employment practices.

“Employers must plan for the possibility of applicants with disabilities at every stage of a recruitment exercise. This includes exercises such as this one with a large number of posts to be filled and a generic job description.”

Ms Kitson added: “The Disability Discrimination Act puts a duty on employers to remove or change aspects of selection processes that can act as barriers to disabled applicants.

“In this case, where the applicant had advised he would require help with the group interview, consideration should have been given to how reasonable adjustments could be made.”

A PSNI spokesperson said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland, as an equal opportunities employer, will continue to liaise with the Equality Commission NI and our external recruitment agencies to ensure that our recruitment procedures and assessment methodologies are fair and accessible to all.

“We are committed to being representative of the community we serve and encourage anyone interested in a career in policing to visit our recruitment website.”

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