An industrial tribunal unanimously ruled in Emma Bond’s favour on Tuesday.
In it findings, the tribunal stated her claims of discrimination on the basis of her gender were “well-founded”.
During her career in the PSNI, she became a chief superintendent and was the first woman to serve as a commander of the Police Derry City and Strabane in January 2020.
But that position was “cut short”, according to the tribunal’s findings.
After less than nine months in the job she was transferred to a new position in Belfast, despite her request to remain in her role as Derry commander.
Her discrimination case arose after an internal investigation into officers temporarily working from home during the first Covid-19 lockdown.
Ms Bond raised concerns about PSNI working practices during this period, making “protected disclosures” to senior officers, and alleged that she was subsequently discriminated against by her employer.
On April 27, 2020, Ms Bond was informed that officers in her district had not attended for duty but had remained at home, while continuing to be paid.
The officers involved believed they were allowed to be on stand-by from home.
But Ms Bond insisted that was not the case and she told her line manager that she intended to “rollock the section” the following morning.
The tribunal had previously heard that Ms Bond believed some officers under her command were potentially guilty of gross misconduct or criminal behaviour when they did not report for duty.
After “robust” briefings with her staff about their failure to come into work, four officers subsequently lodged complaints about Ms Bond’s behaviour.
Her discrimination cased alleged “those who lodged complaints did not appreciate being spoken to in firm terms by a female superior”.
One complaint resulted in her being served with a notice for potential misconduct, but it was later withdrawn after an independent review found it could not be upheld.
In May 2020, Ms Bond sent a text to the then PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne saying she could not “reconcile frontline people deliberately sitting at home when they know they should be at work”.
She also told Mr Byrne that during the controversy someone had said “being in the woman’s thing has gone to her head”.
“I do wonder if a male colleague had been in my shoes would they be the subject of such commentary and be questioned on the validity of them exercising their role as a commander,” she said.
The tribunal noted that after that exchange Mr Byrne described in his journal having received “an emotional text about issues on District” and had counselled Ms Bond regarding a need for “resilience”.
In September 2020 PSNI commanders made a decision to relocate Ms Bond to its police training college in Belfast.
However, Ms Bond told Mr Byrne that she wanted to stay in command of her policing district “despite the challenges”.
She was appointed to the role of district commander in Derry City and Strabane on 20 January 2020 – just over two months before the first Covid lockdown.
The tribunal had noted that she had a long commute to Strand Road Station in Derry: “travelling approximately two hours each way from and to her home”.
Counsel for Ms Bond told the tribunal that a perceived lack of resilience was attributed to her because she was female.
In his evidence to the tribunal in January, the then chief constable Simon Byrne said the decision to relocate Ms Bond to the Garnerville police training college in Belfast had been based on concerns for her welfare, as well as her professional advancement.
Mr Byrne told the tribunal that among the reasons for moving her was “the strain of travel”.
However, the panel accepted Ms Bond’s point that she had been replaced by a male officer who lived a short distance away from her and so faced the same commute.
Responding to the judgment, the PSNI’s Chief Operating Officer Pamela McCreedy, said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland will take time to fully consider the written judgment.
“It would, therefore, be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”Tags: