POLICE Scotland has reversed a ban on colour-blind officers, after a candidate who was rejected from the force mounted a legal bid to have the decision overturned.

The recruit, who had passed all of the other tests to begin training to become a police officer, was told his moderate colour-blindness meant he would be unable to pursue a career in the force.

However, after he launched a legal challenge to the rule, Police Scotland confirmed a review of its previous blanket ban was under way.

As an employment tribunal was due to be lodged, at which the candidate was set to launch a bid for damages, the force confirmed it had changed its policy and he would now be allowed in.

Following the U-turn, those who had previously been rejected from the police because of colour-blindness are to be contacted by Police Scotland and invited to re-apply.

Stephen Smith, a senior solicitor at the Glasgow Law Practice, represented the candidate, who did not wish to be named. Mr Smith said his client was now looking forward to "a long and fruitful career in the police".

The law firm argued that as colour-blindness affects more men than women, the previous policy was discriminatory towards males. It also argued a blanket ban was unlawful and recruits should instead be considered on a case-by-case basis, given there are different degrees of colour blindness.

Mr Smith said: "I know there have been people who have tried to join the police and have been refused because of this policy in the past, and our client had been trying for more than a year. Who knows how many officers have been refused entry over the years? This decision recognises the aim of anti-discrimination law is to ensure employers look at the individual's own circumstances and how any hurdles in the way of them being able to work in a role can be overcome. If the hurdle can be overcome relatively easily, it is not going to be a good enough excuse for employers to turn down candidates who are highly motivated and have worked hard to qualify for roles."

There is potential for colour blindness being an issue for officers, for example if they are unable to accurately describe the clothing of suspects or identify vehicles being sought by police.

However, Glasgow Law Practice argued the issues may have been overcome had colour-blind officers been paired with officers who had full vision.

Scottish Government guidance, published in 2003, had stated full colour perception was not a requirement to become an operational police constable. However, the ban on colour-blind officers continued and Police Scotland has maintained its previous stance was legal.

Between 2004 and 2008, eight candidates were rejected by the now dissolved Strathclyde Police force because they had a form of red-green colour blindness usually found only in men.

Chief Inspector Alison Higgins, of Police Scotland's Training and Recruitment Centre, said: "We are committed to keeping people safe and all our officers contribute to helping us achieve this. I can confirm we have now reviewed our policy and for some people their level of colour-blindness will no longer be an obstacle for recruiting.

"Previous candidates rejected on this basis will all be written to and advised of the change of policy and invited to re-apply.

"While we are content our previous recruitment processes and procedures were legally sound and met the guidance laid down in the determination of Scottish ministers for the assessment of eyesight standards for constables, it was felt this change of policy was necessary to improve accessibility and opportunity and help support the building of an inclusive workforce."