Greek police cut down to size: EU court rules against blanket height restrictions on recruits

The European Court of Justice ruled that a blanket height restriction for entry to the Greek police academy was not justified.
The European Court of Justice ruled that a blanket height restriction for entry to the Greek police academy was not justified.PHOTO: AFP

LUXEMBOURG (REUTERS) - European police forces cannot impose blanket height restrictions on recruits because that discriminates against women, the EU's top court ruled on Wednesday (Oct 18), throwing out an argument from the Greek government.

Athens had defended a minimum height requirement for entry to the Greek police academy of 1.70m 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 characterics while even for those for which a physical aptitude is needed, tests could be less discriminatory against women.

Women account for 13 per cent of police officers in Greece. That compares to 18 per cent in France, where a 1.60-m rule was scrapped in 2010, and fully 29 per cent 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 1.60m tall to join the police - 3cm less than men.