A BLACK police officer has won a case of racial discrimination against Wiltshire Police after it emerged he was sidelined for promotion due to the colour of his skin.

An employment tribunal found PC Ronnie Lungu, 40, had been singled out “as a marked man” for no other factor than his race.

PC Lungu, who joined the force in 2003 after moving to England from Zimbabwe, had been the only black officer out of 20 who had been seeking permanent promotion having been temporarily promoted in 2013.

He has previously worked in Trowbridge and Devizes and since last year is community beat manager for the western part of Chippenham.

The tribunal ruled that Mr Lungu’s internal assessments had been specifically downgraded in order to make him appear unworthy of promotion.

The damning ruling said: “The reduction in the scoring has the very significant effect in terms of making it appear reasonable that the one black applicant for promotion was scoring lower than the 19 white applicants and should therefore not be promoted.”

The tribunal heard evidence of derogatory comments being made about Mr Lungu based on his skin colour which violated his dignity.

It also was told a senior member of staff had been invited to make negative comments about PC Lungu during an appraisal, to which the tribunal ruled: “This behaviour is so extreme that the tribunal cannot think of any apparent motive other than one that is directly related to [the] claimant’s race.”

When Mr Lungu raised his discrimination with senior officers he was not taken seriously and the complaints brushed off as trivial, the tribunal in Bristol said.

Mr Lungu said: “When I realised I was being singled out and treated badly because of the colour of my skin I felt so angry and upset.

“I had worked all my career to serve the community and be the best police officer I could but I was being penalised because I was black.

“It was totally unacceptable. But what made matters worse was that when I did raise the issue internally it wasn’t taken seriously.

“I joined the force to uphold the law and I still would like to remain with the force.

“I need reassurance from Wiltshire Police that they will take issues of discrimination seriously in future and I want to see new procedures put in place to tackle discrimination and better education among senior members of staff in how to deal with complaints.”

Mr Lungu’s lawyer, Juliette Franklin, of Slater and Gordon, said: “It’s extremely disappointing that people are facing this sort of prejudice and discrimination.

“Wiltshire Police needs to take this tribunal ruling very seriously and take swift steps to address any failings which have been identified.

“The force needs to ensure that officers feel confident that if they experience racism or discrimination that any complaint will be taken seriously.”

Mike White, chair of Wiltshire Police Federation, and PC Lungu’s federation representative said: “This judgement sends a stark message out to Wiltshire Police that discriminatory behaviour on the basis of race still exists within the organisation.

“It takes special people, like Ronnie Lungu, to stand up and challenge such behaviours and I applaud his bravery in doing so.”

The Police Federation is the body which represents police officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector.

Legal representation for cases such as this are funded from members subscriptions.

“It was the police federation that took Ronnie’s issues seriously and provided him with access to legal advice and representation.

“We welcome the findings of the tribunal and will work with Wiltshire Police to ensure this cannot happen again,” said Mr White.

Responding the tribunal’s findings, chief constable Patrick Geenty said: “Wiltshire Police have been given the judgment of an employment tribunal where an officer claimed he was discriminated against and harassed due to his ethnicity.

“I can confirm that the judgment upheld the majority of the officer’s complaints.

“Wiltshire Police take this matter very seriously and I am concerned by the tribunal’s findings.

“Clearly, the issues this raises do need to be carefully considered. We continue to work hard to embed our values and behaviours and the code of ethics within the organisation.

“Wiltshire Police will learn lessons from this process and continue to move forward.

“As an organisation we have a very small number of Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) staff (16 officers, 15 police staff and 3 police special constables) and this judgment raises some serious concerns about how an officer felt he was treated.

“I have no doubt that this judgment will affect members of the Black and Ethnic Minority community who might be considering joining Wiltshire Police.

“I want to reassure the public that Wiltshire Police are committed to increasing diversity in the Force so that we can reflect the communities we serve.

“This case was complex and there were a number of points covered. With our legal advisors, we are undertaking an assessment of the tribunal’s findings in order to decide whether to appeal any aspects of the judgment.

“Following this assessment, decisions will be made on what action we may need to take and how we can ensure that lessons are learnt from this case.

“We will continue to engage with the officer and his representatives to ensure that he can continue to be a valued member of Wiltshire Police.

“All necessary training and support will continue to be provided to him.

“It is very important that all of my officers and staff feel confident to report anything that they feel is unfair or unlawful.

“As a force we remain committed to robustly and proportionately tackling inappropriate behaviour in the workplace and supporting those who report wrong doing.

“Over the last few years we have worked hard as a force to ensure we give our staff the right tools whether to deal with wrong doing or managing challenging issues, and we will continue to improve upon this.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson said: "I have read the judgment and been fully briefed.

"There is an important organisational issue here and an important issue for the individual concerned. I have asked what will be done for the officer in the light of the judgment and how the force can ensure that lessons are learnt from this case.

"There is also a wider organisational issue. I strongly believe that Wiltshire Police should be reflective of the diverse communities it serves.

"This means that we need more officers and staff working for the force from black and minority ethnic groups.

"The outcome of this case is not likely to inspire new recruits from those communities to come forward - in that sense it is very damaging.

"This judgment greatly concerns me and I know it also concerns the senior management of Wiltshire Police. An important part of my role is to hold Wiltshire Police to account.

"The force will be reporting to me in detail and it will be high on my agenda at the next board meeting with chief officers on Monday.”