Detective makes 'whistleblowing' claim

A SUFFOLK police detective who gathered vital information from informants in the war against drugs has told an employment tribunal she was victimised for “whistleblowing” on a colleague.

A SUFFOLK police detective who gathered vital information from informants in the war against drugs has told an employment tribunal she was victimised for “whistleblowing” on a colleague.

Vivienne Yarham said she was moved from her specialist job and ignored by other officers after complaining about a fellow detective whom she suspected of falsifying evidence.

She claimed the force failed to take her concerns seriously and had never interviewed her formally about them.

Ms Yarham, who was based at Ipswich, said the treatment she received left her with no option other than to quit after 25 years' service with Suffolk Constabulary.

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Previously she had never faced any problems despite working in a male-dominated job, she told yesterday's hearing in Bury St Edmunds.

Ms Yarham said her efforts in gathering details from informants - referred to by the police as sources - had been helping the force in its Suffolk First campaign to make it the safest county in England by 2006.

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She said her work led to the recovery of large amounts of stolen goods and illegal drugs and added: “This is a specialist position and I was aware I was producing some of the best results in the force.”

Ms Yarham has taken Suffolk Constabulary to an employment tribunal alleging constructive unfair dismissal and detriment through exercising a Public Interest Disclosure.

Suffolk police are strongly denying her claims and will be calling nine

witnesses to give evidence at the tribunal, which opened yesterday.

Ms Yarham, from Nacton, near Ipswich, told the hearing: “I am a hard working, conscientious officer with high standards.”

But she said things began to go wrong when she voiced concerns to a senior officer about a fellow detective, Det-con Steve Rowland, who she suspected of falsifying evidence to pay his own sources for information.

Ms Yarham said she was also worried about the way her colleague did not apparently follow strict procedures for making contact with informants which were designed to help safeguard them.

When her concerns were not acted upon by her immediate superiors, Ms Yarham said she decided to go to the Ipswich sector commander.

Later in a telephone call while relaxing at home with family members last June, Ms Yarham said she was informed by Suffolk police that she was being moved to another department and should have no further contact with the informants she had been managing.

“My mind went blank at this stage,” she told the tribunal. “I said I hoped a

proper investigation would be carried out as if it was not I would be left in a

very awkward position which is what has happened.”

At Ipswich Police Station, where she had been moved to a team investigating burglaries, Ms Yarham said she was ignored by her former colleagues in the bar and canteen. “I was completely ostracised,” she added.

She told the tribunal: “I felt that I was being punished for something the force

apparently encourages - whistleblowing.”

Before Ms Yarham began giving evidence, the tribunal panel upheld a request from Suffolk police for the names, addresses and details of vehicles of informants to be replaced with numbers because of the risk of injury or even death if they were identified.

The tribunal continues.

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