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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 15:50 GMT
Firearms squad was 'unsupportive'
Paula Tomlinson
Paula Tomlinson was ejected after failing proficiency tests
A police gun squad which expelled a woman who was later found hanging was labelled unsupportive to minorities in a report, an inquest has heard.

The report was commissioned after Pc Paula Tomlinson, 35, was found dead at her home in Southport in January 2004.

Pc Tomlinson, who was one of two women among Merseyside Police's 95 firearms officers, had been upset after being ejected for failing proficiency tests.

She believed senior officers resented her success, the Sefton inquest heard.

In the report which followed Pc Tomlinson's death, Ch Supt Suzette Davenport, of West Mercia Police, wrote that "the culture that pervaded at the time... was not at all supportive in general, but especially if you were from a minority group".

It was extremely unlikely she would ever retain her shooting authority
Retired Supt Stephen Gittins

When the excerpt was read to retired Supt Stephen Gittins, who was in charge of the firearms unit and had co-authored the report, he denied hearing or reading such sentiments.

Two other authors of the report also wrote that that there had been no suggestions of bullying during their investigations.

Mr Gittins said Pc Tomlinson had not been victimised or bullied and had been expelled for failing six re-qualification shoots and she had suffered from physical shaking.

"The fact that she failed to re-qualify on six occasions, that she hit the target in the wrong lane on two occasions and her physical demeanour in the shoots meant it was extremely unlikely she would ever retain her shooting authority," he added.

Asked if he had any doubt that she should have lost her shooting authority, he replied: "I'm sorry, but not at all. None whatsoever."

The hearing continues.

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