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Extended probationary period

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Last updated 2nd January 2011.

A policeman’s two-year probationary period is reported to have been extended after he repeatedly failed passing-out exams because of difficulty talking.

The Sun newspaper reported that a policeman with a severe speech impediment was still on probation after five years. Normally a policeman would have a two year probationary period before qualifying as a constable. However this officer in the Metropolitan Police, who is thought to have a severe stutter, had repeatedly failed passing-out exams because of his difficulty talking. Instead, he was doing admin duties at a police station on his full £30,000-a-year salary.

The Metropolitan Police had commented that the force has a legal obligation to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to help those with disabilities.

Reactions quoted in the article – and many readers’ comments – were critical of the situation, e.g saying that he should not have been employed in the first place. Some comments though support him working in the admin job.

The Sun article (8/1/09) is no longer online. The story is also on the Telegraph website and policeoracle.com.

My comment

What is a ‘reasonable’ adjustment will depend on the full circumstances, which are not given in the article.

The type of adjustment made has some similarity to the case of Archibald v Fife (about transfer to a different job), in that the officer seems to have been moved to admin duties.