Police trainer probed over racism claim

A TRAINER at the Scottish Police College is under investigation for allegedly racially abusing an Asian colleague at their Christmas night out.

Sergeant Gavin Ross, of Strathclyde Police, has been officially reported to the procurator fiscal after a row in a restaurant close to the complex in Tulliallan, Fife.

The 42-year-old is understood to have been accused of launching into a verbal assault against the other officer, also a Strathclyde sergeant, using expletives to refer to his Muslim faith.

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It is understood the row took place on 10 December as Tulliallan staff held their annual Christmas dinner.

The allegations come as forces across Scotland struggle to recruit from minority groups, partly because of a continued perception among black and Muslim youngsters that the police are racist or Islamophobic.

The Crown Office last night confirmed that it was considering a report into the incident.

A Strathclyde Police spokeswoman said:

"An inquiry is ongoing and a report is being prepared for the regional procurator fiscal in Fife."

The police college also confirmed that it was carrying out its own investigation into the conduct of a member of staff.

A spokeswoman added: "As a matter of policy, we do not publicly discuss staff-related issues and it would be inappropriate to comment further."

The college trains every new officer for every Scottish force and has been full for the past two years after the SNP pledged to hire 1,000 new officers by the end of this parliament.

However, Scottish forces have failed to raise the number of recruits from ethnic minorities as overall numbers swell. There have been no black or other minority faces in at least one of the passing-out parades at Tulliallan over the past 18 months.

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Figures revealed late last year showed 18 of the nearly 2,000 new officers recruited in 2008-2009 were from minorities.

The allegations at Tulliallan came after a first poll of Muslim officers revealed concerns over attitudes towards Muslims in the police.

A survey of 70 members of the Strathclyde Police Muslim Association (SPMA), the only body of its kind north of the Border, found two out of three felt attitudes towards them had changed since the Glasgow Airport terror attack in 2007.

An SPMA report on the survey, obtained by Scotland on Sunday, said: "Respondents indicated that after 9/11 and the Glasgow Airport incident, Muslim officers are not being offered the same opportunities as non-Muslim officers.

"There is the perception that Muslim officers are subject to a disproportionate level of scrutiny and investigation.

"Almost all respondents reported a negative impact of their faith on their role.

"However, there were some positive comments in relation to other officers asking questions about their faith to become more aware of Islamic issues."

Two out of three SPMA members, meanwhile, said they would recommend a career in the police.

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One serving Strathclyde officer, a Muslim who declined to be named, said he was seeing improvements in the way young Asians viewed the police.

He said: "When I joined it was members of my own community who were giving me grief. I have never had issues from fellow officers.

"Now and then you do get members of the public making some stupid comments but a lot of that has got to do with alcohol.

"The very people who were critical of me are now asking me about joining the police.

"I am an officer who happens to be Muslim. Going on my experience, I would say senior officers try their best to accommodate your wishes when it comes to things like Ramadan or going to the mosque, especially on a Friday."