Police in Scotland have operated a macho culture which “sexualises” women in the workforce, according to a new report.

The study, which is based on interviews with officers and police analysts in the six years before the creation of Police Scotland in 2013, suggests that civilian staff had been treated like “infants” by officers.

Its author Colin Atkinson of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research in Glasgow said the findings show outdated policing attitudes were hindering


His research uncovered widespread discontent among intelligence analysts, of whom nearly three-quarters are female, and questions its impact on the


Intelligence analysts, often combining extensive IT skills, are regarded

as key to tracking down widespread and sophisticated criminal networks.

They also have a vital role to play in counter-intelligence and assessing

threats on the ground.

Mr Atkinson, a former police analyst who is a research associate at the University of Glasgow, added: “There was a common perception that intelligence analysis was ‘women’s work’ and that this involved basic administrative or ‘supporting’ tasks, rather than any active or ‘real’ policing.

“Female bodies, especially those of civilian intelligence analysts, were

also frequently sexualised by police officers.

“Throughout fieldwork intelligence analysts were frequently considered by

police officers to be child-like – as dependent, ignorant, immature,

powerless and un-knowing– thus further de-professionalising analysts and

inhibiting their agency."

He said the 'infantilising' people devalued, degraded and deprofessionalised their role, status and position relegating them to "subservience and powerlessness.”

In 2012, females accounted for 72 per cent of the 252 intelligence analysts in Scottish policing, while males accounted for same percentage of police officers.

Mr Atkinson said: “Intelligence analysis has become increasingly pivotal to

intelligence-led policing, with civilian intelligence analysts emerging as

the bearers of new knowledge and skills that are crucial to making

effective policing decisions.

“The intelligence analyst responsibilities include developing an

understanding of where, when and why crimes occur; assessing who is likely to perpetrate or be responsible for crimes; and recommending measures for crime reduction or prevention, including the direction or tasking of police resources such as routine patrols, community policing resources, surveillance assets or covert informants.”

However, the report found their increasingly high-profile role created resentment among the mainly male officers against the ”young, educated but still predominantly female” analysts. It was felt they had not served their time on the beat.

Mr Atkinson described how there was casual sexism at interviews. “One male intelligence analyst, upon querying the reasons for his recruitment, was told by a police officer that ‘he thinks likes a woman’ and that ‘a good analytical brain is a female brain’.”

Mr Atkinson added: “Police leaders must take further steps to

professionalise, empower and responsibilise civilian intelligence analysts."

Labour Justice spokesman Graeme Pearson MSP said the report painted a negative picture of the status of analysts generally within the service.

He added: "The picture presented is one of a male dominated environment controlling the context within which it is largely women analysts doing their work in spite of men rather than alongside male police officers. I hope that

culture is changing.

“The public and political figures still talk about policemen as critical to

the Service overlooking the fact that women play a significant role in the

enforcement and investigatory process. It takes generations to change that


The trade union, Unison, called on the new chief constable Phil Gormley to deal with the problem.

A force spokesman said: “Police Scotland is absolutely committed to ensuring it is as inclusive as possible and will continue to ensure that equality, diversity and dignity continues to influence our approach to staff and communities alike and that fairness, integrity and respect underpin all that we do so we can provide the best possible policing for all."

“This was before Police Scotland was created in 2013. We cannot

comment on research which was carried out in a legacy force."