Policeman brings tribunal claim after losing post due to hearing impairment


A police marksman has taken two police forces to an employment tribunal after being removed from his post after he failed a hearing test.

Bruce Shields had worked as a firearms officer with partial hearing for 16 years and took Surrey and Sussex Police to a tribunal, claiming that being stripped of his title had been unfair and discriminatory on account of his disability.

However, the tribunal in Reading, Berkshire, heard counter arguments that his deafness would have meant he would not have been unable to distinguish between “shoot” and “don’t shoot” commands.

The tribunal in August heard that he joined Surrey Police in 1998 and, a year later, was diagnosed with an inner-ear infection in his right ear that left him partially deaf.

Despite this, he was able to carry on working as an authorised firearms officer and had worked in many challenging situations, including responding to an armed bank robbery in 2010, for which he received a commendation.

As Occupational Health went to press in August, the case was still continuing.

Separately, research by Action on Hearing Loss Scotland (formerly the Royal National Institute for Deaf People) has found that many hotels in Scotland are not accommodating the needs of the one in six people in the UK who are deaf or hard of hearing.

When making “mystery guest” calls, campaign volunteers discovered that just 24% of 268 hotels in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Fort William, Glasgow, Perth and Stirling said they had a hearing loop at reception to help staff communicate with hearing aid users.

Only 29% also said they had assistive equipment, such as vibrating and flashing alarms to alert guests who are deaf in the event of an emergency.

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