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West Midlands police protection officers for Malala Yousafzai used racist slurs, whistleblower claims

Close protection officers for Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban, referred to her as “tikka masala”, a whistleblower has claimed.

Former West Midlands Police officer, Rebecca Kalam, told Channel 4 News of several incidents of misogyny, discrimination, and predatory culture she witnessed while in the force’s firearms unit.

In one incident, the former detective inspector claimed she heard some officers refer to Malala “on a couple of occasions as tikka masala”.

In 2012, the 14-year-old was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan and was airlifted to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment. She went on to become the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Ms Kalam went on to say that she felt victimised when she challenged the remarks and that some Muslim or Sikh officers within the force were discriminated against due to their faith.

Ms Kalam also alleged that in one training exercise, she was stripped searched down to her underwear in front of male colleagues and was told she had to be the “poster girl” for the unit due to her ethnic background.

Speaking about the misogynistic remarks made by some of the officers in the firearms unit, Ms Kalam added: “We should be trusting those officers to protect them.

“If that was your daughter, and you knew firearms officers were doing that, I know I’d be concerned if I had a daughter. There are predators within that unit.”

The former police officer, who has since left the force, added that she spoke out against the force as it is at risk of “another David Carrick or Wayne Couzens”.

Ms Kalam could be in line for a record settlement after the police force accepted 75 of the allegations made against it.

West Midlands Police Force’s deputy chief constable Scott Green said sixteen officers were given “low-level sanctions or advice” following a Professional Standards Department probe into the Firearms Unit.

Mr Green added: “A number of serious issues have been discussed during the tribunal hearing many of which date back a number of years. As we are awaiting the outcome of the tribunal it is not appropriate at this time to comment on the specific claims made by Rebecca Kalam.

“Officers and staff in the Firearms Unit work tirelessly, often in the most risky situations, to protect the public and perform their duties with the utmost professionalism and they are disgusted at any conduct which falls below these standards of professional behaviour.

“There is no place for misogynistic, discriminatory or disrespectful behaviour in policing and we are working hard to set and reinforce the highest standards.

“Under the leadership of Chief Superintendent Sarah Burton, officers and staff in the Firearms Unit have worked hard over the past two years to deliver improvements to culture, standards and the working environment and much progress has been made.

“This includes positive changes to the working environment, training and development opportunities and the provision of female-specific uniform and equipment. Female firearms officers are now involved in trialling and assessing new uniform and equipment and we have also introduced new arrangements to procure female specific uniform and equipment.

“All female firearms officers have been issued with equipment specific to their individual needs, including formed ballistic protection.

“These important steps are helping us to attract and retain the best and most diverse people in firearms policing, and benefit those already working in this critical area and the public they serve.”