European police forces cannot impose blanket height restrictions on recruits because that discriminates against women, the EU’s top court ruled on Wednesday, throwing out an argument from the Greek government.
Athens had defended a minimum height requirement for entry to the Greek police academy of 1.70 meters (5 feet 7 inches) after a woman complained of sex discrimination when her application to join the force was rejected in 2007 because she was too short.
But the European Court of Justice ruled that such a blanket restriction was not justified. It said some tasks in the police – it cited traffic duty – do not require special physical characteristics while even for those for which a physical aptitude is needed, tests could be less discriminatory against women.
Women account for 13 percent of police officers in Greece. That compares to 18 percent in France, where a 1.60-metre rule was scrapped in 2010, and fully 29 percent in England and Wales, which abandoned minimum heights for both men and women 27 years ago. Until 1990, English women had to be at least 1.60 meters tall to join the police – 3 centimeters less than men. – reuters