A trainee policeman whose hearing aids turned police sirens into ‘torture’ has won a discrimination claim against a mate.

An employment tribunal heard that Shafi Karim had been sacked from the Met because of fears the job was unsafe after he had poor hearing.

The probationary officer was struggling to hear instructions on his police radio and was experiencing feedback through his hearing aids.

In a ‘blue light’ exercise, Mr Karim complained that patrol car sirens were like ‘torture’ and he had to stop to change batteries in the device during mock police chases.

An employment tribunal heard probation officer Shafi Karim was sacked from the Met because of fears his job was unsafe following his poor hearing. [File image]

The panel was told that he was asked to complete a series of role play tests to prove his ability to superior officers concerned that his poor hearing could put himself and other officers at risk.

Mr Karim remained on probation for five years before being fired in 2021.

He is currently in line for compensation after successfully suing the force over his dismissal, and to be paid back some of the costs relating to his hearing aids.

The tribunal in central London heard that the trainee joined the Metropolitan Police as a probationer police constable in 2015, and passed an initial hearing test.

It comes as rookie police officers are usually on probation for 24 months and must experience a number of different scenarios in order to pass, the panel was told.

In 2016, Mr Karim was referred to The Met’s occupational health department because he was having hearing problems ‘while training outside’… [and] He was echoing whatever he could hear on the radio,’ so his training was put on hold.

Later that year, he was allowed to continue working and was posted to Finsbury Park before becoming part of an ’emergency response’ team.

The panel was told Mr Karim began saying he got ‘feedback’ if an object came too close to his hearing aids, while other officers observed he ‘didn’t always hear when spoken to’ .

The police officer was referred to a private hearing health provider, who advised him to obtain a Rogers Pen – a wireless microphone that helps the user understand more speech in noise and over longer distances.

The panel was told that as part of the settlement, Mr Karim was to pay about 30 per cent of the cost as well as insurance for the device.

Meanwhile, the police officer was also made to complete a role play test to prove his ability to work at an operational level.

The tribunal was told that senior officers conducting the test were concerned that Mr Karim Rogers was overly reliant on the pen and that if he used it in a real street policing scenario, someone might drop it from his hands.

The panel heard that during a ‘police chase’ test, the officer’s hearing aid ran out of battery and Mr Karim had to stop and replace it.

In another test scenario, in addition, Mr Karim had to be asked to repeat messages and that the blue light was giving feedback to his hearing aids – describing the sound as ‘torture’.

All of the officers conducting the trial believed that ‘Mr Karim was not capable of being a fully active and effective police officer’.

Mr Karim was sacked with immediate effect in July 2021 following continued concerns about his ability to perform, the panel heard.

The tribunal concluded that he was subject to disability discrimination resulting from his dismissal, and that the force had failed to make reasonable adjustments by not paying for his advanced hearing aid kit and insurance.

Another claim of direct discrimination – in which he accused the Met of making a ‘stereotypical assumption’ that his hearing loss ‘disabled’ him from working – was dismissed.

Employment Judge Jillian Brown said: ‘[Mr Karim] was put to that particular and substantial loss.

‘The test was a ‘pass or fail’ test and, because he failed it, he was dismissed… There were less discriminatory ways of achieving those legitimate goals, including making reasonable adjustments.

,[The Met] should never be needed [Mr Karim] to pay this cost [of the advanced hearing aid kit.]* is required [him] It was completely inappropriate to insure hearing aids.

‘As work tools, they should have been insured by [The Met] like all [his] Other equipment.’

A hearing will be held at a later date to decide on Mr Karim’s compensation.

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