Police Scotland: Leaving the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index

On 20 February 2023 the Daily Mail reported that Police Scotland had withdrawn from the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index (WEI) scheme. The scheme is described by Stonewall as ‘the definitive benchmarking tool for employers to measure their progress on lesbian, gay, bi and trans inclusion in the workplace’. The Times later reported that Police Scotland would not comment on why it had severed its formal ties, nor ‘be drawn on whether it considered membership had an effect on its impartiality, the fundamental bedrock of policing by consent’.

The move is nonetheless significant. As noted by the Daily Mail, ‘Police Scotland is understood to be the first high-profile Scottish public body to have quit the scheme’. It is also a substantive departure for the single service itself, which until recently, viewed its participation in the WEI scheme as a marker of its equality and diversity credentials.

This report* looks at some of problems and risks potentially associated with membership of Stonewall schemes, and examines the imprint of Stonewall on a range of Police Scotland policies. The analysis also considers the impact of the Scottish Government- funded group Scottish Trans, whose views align with Stonewall. While the analysis is specific to Police Scotland, many of the observations will be relevant to other UK police forces. We conclude that Police Scotland should now seek to align its policies with equality law and ensure the needs of all protected characteristics are properly considered.

* Link updated to correct a typographcial/text error. 24 March 2023.