25 April 2023
A member who suffered damage to her mental health after being bullied by a colleague has been awarded a payout following a successful personal injury claim funded by the Police Federation of England and Wales.
The member joined her force in 2005 as a police constable working in the Response Division. In July 2019, she was tasked with investigating and handling an assault that took place on two members of the local police community.
One of the victims, a former senior officer who was now employed in a civilian capacity, was injured in this incident.
Whilst waiting for the NHS to issue the medical records for the purpose of the investigation, the member became subjected to increasingly hostile, belittling and demanding email correspondence from their colleague, causing considerable stress and anxiety.
On a number of occasions, she sought assistance and intervention from her superiors, but the only step taken was telling them ‘not to worry about it’ and to ‘ignore it’.
In December 2019, she attended a fatal accident. Due to the damage caused to her mental health by her colleague and the failure of their supervisors to intervene, she suffered a breakdown.
She was signed off work and was unable to return until May 2020.
When she returned, she was assigned to restricted duties. This had a deleterious impact on her income due to the reduced hours and inability to work antisocial hours.
In July 2020, she submitted a formal grievance regarding the toxic behaviour of her colleague which detailed the effect this was having on her mental health, and she was considering retiring early as a result of this.
The grievance outcome was received late September 2020 which upheld her grievance. It also included a formal apology from their colleague.
She appealed this outcome stating she was unhappy with how long the grievance took to reach an outcome.
The appeal outcome upheld that there were multiple missed opportunities to intervene at an earlier stage which could have prevented the abhorrent behaviour from continuing further.
Setfords were instructed to investigate a possible personal injury claim.
The letter of claim was submitted to the force on 17 December 2020 and a letter of response was received 4 May 2021 in which liability was denied.
Despite the claim being denied, Setfords considered there to be sufficient prospects to issue court proceedings.
A report was subsequently obtained from a consultant psychiatrist, and this supported that the member’s injuries had been occasioned by the abusive and critical emails from her colleague.
Court proceedings were served on 2 December 2021. In spite of a defence served again denying liability, a five-figure settlement was secured for the member.
As with all personal injury claims pursued with the Federation, the member was able to keep 100 per cent of their damages.