When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
‘Police wouldn’t give me wedding day off’
A WOMAN police officer claims she was bullied by male bosses who cancelled the leave she had booked for her wedding.
Pc Rachel Garrett, 47, had arranged the time off to wed a fellow officer but found her leave had been cancelled without her knowledge, a tribunal heard yesterday.
Pc Garrett only found out that her line manager had ordered the cancellation when her now husband, Sgt Nick Garrett, checked the system while she was signed off sick.
She also claimed she was ordered to perform a role she was not trained to do and was “overscrutinised” by Insp Roy Atwell and Supt Gez Chiarello.
The newly-wed is now suing Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Sara Thornton for sex and disability discrimination.
She accused her bosses of turning against her after she filed previous complaints against the force.
Pc Garrett took Thames Valley Police to an employment tribunal in 2007 on similar discrimination accusations relating to the body armour provided to female officers.
The case was settled and she was awarded £2,000 as compensation for injury to feelings.
The following year Pc Garrett was elected as a Police Federation representative.
In 2011 she was told that her ability to represent her fellow officers had been affected by her own employment tribunal claim – leading her to lodge a second complaint, in which she named head of criminal justice, Supt Chiarello.
She said in a statement to the Reading tribunal hearing yesterday: “He commented to me that because of my previous employment tribunal claim he didn’t know if I was ‘whiter than white’.”
That claim went to a judicial mediation process and she was again awarded compensation for injury to feelings, this time for £1,500.
Pc Garrett claims that since her second complaint she was “bullied” by Supt Chiarello, who then turned her line manager Insp Atwell against her.
The amount of time she was allowed for Police Fedderation work was downgraded from full time to three days a week and she was told to also work as an enquiry officer, dealing with road accidents. She had been an enquiry officer before working with the federation, but said she felt undertrained to take on the role due to changes in the way the job was done.
She was moved from the Police Headquarters in Kidlington to Witney Police Station – closer to her home in Ducklington – but found her new office dirty and unkempt, and her colleagues unwelcoming, the tribunal heard.
The tribunal heard the office had since been refurbished.
Pc Garrett also discovered Insp Atwell was copying emails between them to Supt Chiarello.
She said: “I felt micro-managed by Insp Atwell and bullied by Supt Chiarello.”
Pc Garrett, who also suffers from asthma and hand problems, as well as having a “depressive condition”, was signed off with work-related stress in November last year.
While she was off work, she claimed Insp Atwell had ordered her previously approved leave – including time off for her wedding in March of this year, and subsequent honeymoon – to be cancelled.
Her partner was able to re-apply for her leave, which was granted – although with just weeks to spare until their big day.
She denied an assertion from the force that her leave was cancelled because she had not applied for it properly, through Insp Atwell.
Giving evidence, Insp Atwell denied he was Supt Chiarello’s “puppet.”
Talking of Pc Garrett, he said: “My impression was that she was professional and had an eye for detail.
The tribunal continues.