Beyond the Police “Boys Club” with Rhona Malone

Rhona Malone - She's All That Video Podcast With September Smith
"...I ...pay tribute to Rhona Malone ... I commend her bravery in taking that case. The findings paint a picture that should trouble all of us"
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland commends Rhona Malone for her bravery
Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister of Scotland

The Rhona Malone Story -

Rhona Malone was a highly trained professional in a career that she absolutely loved and was dedicated to. She was working within a system that had assured her and all the other members of their force that they were dedicated to diversity, gender equality and systemic change. Rhona found that everything she had worked for was at stake when it was all exposed to be just empty words. Sexism and gender-discrimination was alive and well in the system and thwarting both her career and her individual rights and capacities as a police officer and a firearm specialist.

Believing in the promises of guaranteed equalities, Rhona sought to help change some of the issues that faced her and other women. What she could not have known was that she would face a three year legal battle that not only robbed her of the career she loved, but of her financial and emotional well being. 

Rhona never bent to the pressure to sign a nondisclosure agreement that would muzzle her and let the repressive “boys club” system continue unimpeded. She won her fight just last month (Oct 5, 2021) and spurred discussion and recognition of the issue all the way to the highest office in the land – Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon called the tribunal results a “watershed moment”, and that women should not expected to fix the problem of men behaving in a “deeply unacceptable and misogynistic way”. 

In the meantime, Rhona has created a new life for herself, both with her own business in a totally different area, but also as a burgeoning public speaker, addressing these issues of systemic sexism, discrimination and inequality.   

Transcript

September Smith:  Welcome to the She’s All That Video Podcast. I’m your host September Smith. 

 Today, I’m talking to Rhona Malone.  Until April of 2020,  Rhona Malone was a member of the Scottish service until April of 2020. Rhona Malone was a member of the police service of Scotland, and she had risen to the position of Firearms Officer. 

Last year, she left her position and her hard-won career after an almost three-year legal battle with the force in which she was victorious.

I was told when I joined - 'we will protect you, we know you're a minority, we're trying to change...' I loved that - being part of change - They've got my back. They're going to support me.

– Rhona Malone

Rhona’s fight was in response to repeated discrimination and a culture of institutionalized sexism at the Police Scotland firearms unit, where women are set up to fail, particularly if they question how things work. 

Rhona, welcome. And thank you so much for being here today to talk about this.

Rhona Malone:  Thank you, September. I’m delighted to be here. Thank you.

September Smith:  I am so thrilled to talk to you I was fascinated from the moment I… it was actually in a LinkedIn discussion thread, about the topic of nondisclosure agreements – NDAs – that I first discovered you. It was a conversation that was precipitated by one woman’s posts about how an NDA had totally impacted her life or career, her mental health or financial health, etc. And how she felt so alone. And you and me, and dozens and dozens of other women piled in with a “Me, Too” comment. Yeah. And your story particularly, particularly stood out for me. So give me a little bit of background about what your situation was. 

September Smith:  You were working with? Scottish Police Scotland? Yeah. And you had worked really hard to become a firearms officer, above a regular police officer. What is that? And what was happening? What was that pivot point that caused you to go on this path of fighting?

Rhona Malone:  So I am, I was a police officer for nearly eight years when I joined firearms. I think I took on as another challenge. That was something, there were many women and that area of work. It was definitely sold to me as then we need to get more women into the division as something that would be of interest to you. For me, I was a very committed police officer, I loved what I did. I had an absolutely great career. And yeah, though this is a great challenge, I like to change people’s perspectives. And I thought, yeah, I can do this. So I joined a 10-week intensive course. There’s a high failure rate of police officers going through the course, quite rightly. So you have to have a good mindset and know that you’re doing the rest Exactly.

September Smith:  Is that Firearms Officer designation? What do they do?

Rhona Malone:  In Britain, we don’t have the date to carry firearms, and you have to have a license to have a firearm. Either personally, or even in a working environment like the police, the police is in a place where you would get that service. That’s great. I totally respected the fact that I got the opportunity to do that because it was a huge responsibility. 

As a Firearms Officer, I’d say you’re just a normal police officer, you’ve just got this extra PPE (personal protection equipment), and you’ve got extra training. That is the only difference. 

You’re put into situations, which are just basically life and death situations. So you wouldn’t normally go to Pablo, for example, or go along to a domestic abuse situation unless there was a threat to life. So it was very him liberty jobs that we went to, you know because he wanted to not only protect the public but shells. 

So yeah, so I joined in 2016, it was a great, phenomenal opportunity. And I went to Edinburgh services in a capitalist Scotland, it was working from there. A great opportunity to be able to find a gun, the training was amazing. But the responsibility that came with it, again, was crucial. I took that very seriously. 

I said before, police officers, we’re all the same, but firearms officers have got this extra PPE equipment. Though I started to notice, that this division was very unique. This department or division that I was working on was very male-dominated and micromanaged. 

In the training, you’ve got to make split-second decisions. So there’s a potential actuate somebody. You have to use your own instincts, be able to risk assess immediately, and risk assess yourself. And you never had somebody over your back telling you what you could or couldn’t do. 

So when I moved to this division, I realized the management was very oppressive, very micromanaged. And basically, I found it a huge conflict, because I thought, here I am taking the responsibility of potentially shooting someday, and ‘m in an environment where I’m being restricted, obstructed, and limited. That didn’t work well and it wasn’t a nice place to be.

September Smith:  Was this the micromanaging and feeling the oppression, was that something that all officers in the firearms division had to deal with? it wasn’t a gender thing? 

Rhona Malone:  No, this was the whole division. Nobody really challenge that because, their response was, if you challenge management…you’re basically a job…you don’t want to create a target on your back. 

There’s only so long that you can keep up with that because at the end of the day, it’s me that’s carrying the gun, it’s me, that’s gonna end up potentially shooting somebody, and it’s me that’ll take a half the responsibility, whether it goes to jail, goes to court for a half year. 

That was always in the back of my mind. 

But I just put up with it longer, I became more and more reserved, the more I picked up on this negativity, this oppression, this upset, dark depression, but it wasn’t from the people I worked with. It was from management. So I started to highlight my concerns. And it was to do more work. In the directions/orders that I was given, I questioned everything. 

Again, it’s me that would be responsible at the end of the FAA short Sunday. So I needed to make sure that I was informed on what was happening… there was justification for everything, and the justification never came. 

So when I was questioning things, when I was asking, that didn’t come push started to make me feel quite uneasy. And yeah, didn’t like pivot point.

September Smith:  For you, was it – having looked at the BBC reporting on your case – the pivot point was an email. 

Rhona Malone:  Because I challenged a question, a few of the orders that have been given and directions, I was also experienced really horrendous treatment from my senior management. 

I had dealt with three major incidents before that email. 

There were many others, but there were three major incidents that were related to my agenda. 

One of them was an overtime claimed that I didn’t get put as a meal off so dead Uber in the same circumstances. 

The other one was I had a claim or try to get flexible working or condensed working hours, thoughts started with my family. And again, management media was extremely difficult and went out of their way to basically obstruct me to be able to do my job at the same time as work well with my family. 

And by their reckoning, you can’t be an officer holding the responsibility of a firearms officer protecting the public and still have the flexibility to think of your family.

They didn’t want to help. The rules and regulations and Police Scotland doubt that officers apply for flexible work in our condensed working hours. 

Then it should be applied in every instance unless there’s a justifiable reason why.

September Smith:  No precedent for these people – that wasn’t yet.”

Rhona Malone:  Absolutely. 

I established, with court cases, the use and abuse the processes and procedures, they misled, they didn’t follow them. 

So the track they made as awkward as possible and they couldn’t justify it. 

But they deleted and everything they were deleting my overtime, or my condensed working hours application form just had a huge impact on my family, I wasn’t seeing them, the chiefs were horrendous. 

I was just looking to be able to look after my family at the same time as do my job. 

But they just weren’t willing to be flexible with me at all and they made it really difficult. 

There was a third incident before that email. 

In December I was basically accused of upsetting management because I was highlighting these things. 

I also got accused of throwing my belt with a loaded weapon. That never happened. 

It was just what is on my utility belt, with a Glock and my Glock 17. They accused me of throwing that on the floor like it was having a tantrum. 

I just confirm that that never happened at any time. And when it was investigated later on that senior officer, in what was the words he used, so that was just lost my main idea. 

September Smith:  It was a misunderstanding, accusing you of doing something totally responsible in your position as a Firearms Officer. Totally against any of the training.

There was a few situations that led up to that…these were happening up to a year before I got this email. 

September Smith:  So this email that you’re discussing was received in January of 2018. And this was basically the pivot, the final cherry on top, the straw that broke the camels back?

Rhona Malone:  So the email was absolutely 100% discrimination today. 

It was my senior officer basically.

I had worked with a female officer, and we had had a great shift. We’ve had some great results. It was just myself and this other female officer, there aren’t any females and finance. 

The fact that we got to work together was brilliant. This is really good. There is a pressure on you as a woman, that you have to prove yourself wrongly or rightly, that feeling was there all the time, so this was a way we could show them how well we did.

And we worked so well on the show. It’s got good results. 

And I came into an email, basically saying I don’t want to see two female officers working together, due to the physical capabilities and to balance out testosterone. 

And then the email

September Smith:  Mission to balance out testosterone, like a necessary element of being a police officer.

Rhona Malone:  “It’s like I needed a male to to do the job, and it was awful.”

At first…I thought it was just an absolute joke.

September Smith:  Did this email go out just to you, or was the service for people.

Rhona Malone:  So the person that sent this to my line manager, who it was sent it to myself and this other female officer.. So we saw that as a direct instruction. 

It was awful. It was just absolutely disgusting, and totally discrimination today. 

He starts off the email saying “I’m going to jump in with two feet and be accused of sexual discrimination.”

So yeah, you’re absolutely right. Because you have been. 

And it’s okay. Because it’s like, right through the political correctness here. 

September Smith:  Let’s just use my rank and authority and mess user and, and that that’s wrong.”

Rhona Malone:  That is wrong on so many levels, and that affected me really badly because I think that’s when I had the lightbulb moment and I thought, this whole division is just suffered from surgery that there was a very archaic male-dominated environment, the canteen culture, the banter, the words and phrases and things that people use, but never challenged, they were not charged. 

The longer it went on, it was very derogatory towards women, and totally affected us on the job. 

And we’re now because we’ve seen as equals not members. 

We’re now seeing, particularly since the summer of 2020 with all the problems in the States, we’re seeing that policing, toxic masculine policing is not actually an effective answer if you’re a peace officer, if you’re there to improve, not be a fascist lockdown sort of force there to police society in a way that’s active. You need a more diverse input and approach. 

September Smith:  You and this other female officer working together, you were creating this whole other dynamic, so I should have been actually looking at, 

Rhona Malone:  It should have been nurtured, it should have been celebrated, it should have been all the things that we did, there was no violence involved, there was no egos or match, we were significant. 

We were very strong women, very confident in our abilities. And mediation negotiation goes a long way. It’s not you don’t need brute strength, especially as a police officer.

I’m a firearms officer, I don’t need the strength anyway, because I’ve got weapons.

At the same time, you don’t need strength. I don’t think strength should be the top. I don’t think it’s not the top skill of being a police officer. It’s how you use your communication, how you lessen your awareness, emotional intelligence.

“I was really good at what I did, and he just totally belittled me and then tried to use his power, authority, and his rank to suppress me, to quiet me, to silence me.” 

And they’ve been trying to do that all year. 

September Smith:  So to do with the overtime claim to do with the flexible work, and then being accused of the firearms toss, that was to inject fear and threaten me and to scare me to back off, and undermine your legitimacy.

Rhona Malone:  The bigger picture is, “they saw me as a female. That it was all to do with my gender. They wouldn’t have cheated on a man like that. They wouldn’t have treated the same male colleague in that situation like that, not at all.”

And because they could turn around and say I was neurotic, I was a drama queen, that I was taking a hassle for, they used all these words and these phrases to describe my reaction to what they were doing to me and all I was doing was being defensive. Yeah standing up for what I believe.

September Smith:  that unfortunately you would you had gone through the first series of police officer training you had with flying colours, an upstanding member of the police force, and after this other training, which as you said, there’s a very high failure rate. 

So you had met all their criteria psychologically as a person and now suddenly they have to paint you as a drama queen?

September Smith:  Has this nearly three-year battle that you entered into…prior to that light bulb moment…was that something that you kind of envisioned? Where did you see that coming? And were you ready for that?

Rhona Malone:  I didn’t see it coming. When I was introduced to that job role of being a Firearms Officer, it was very much “we’ll look after you will protect you, and we know you’re the minority we are trying to change. We’re trying to get more women into the firearms Division.

I loved that being part of that change. I thought this is good, they’ve absolutely got my back, and they’re gonna support me. Because I knew going into it, policing is a male-dominated environment anyway, but firearms is a whole other level. 

There was a bit of anxiety, people that have been in the army, they’d been in this division a long time. You normally didn’t get into firearms unless somebody left and that was through retirement. The division has a very cliquey, once you’re in you don’t really leave. 

So you don’t have people coming and going that have got a diverse background, that have seen a lot of change and development and progress over the years, they’re very insulated. That’s the division was.

September Smith:  So they put themselves out as being ready for change and had the sound bites in place.”

Rhona Malone:  But it was just a façade. It was just absolutely sad, it was empty words, there was no depth to it, they actually didn’t know what to do, and they weren’t doing it. Unfortunately, by the time I realized that I had got the email…actually I had been in the division for a year and when I asked for help, it never came, it got worse. It just got worse and worse and worse.

September Smith:  So three years of having to be involved in this, this battle.

Rhona Malone:  When I got that email, I challenged it straightaway, and I challenged them and approached them and I said to the person that the center, this is outrageous, this is absolutely disgusting. And they wouldn’t back down. So the two senior officers, the one that center, and the one that was in support of center basically wouldn’t back down. And eventually, because I was challenging them on what they were saying…and I wasn’t backing down, they tried to threaten me by taking my firearms license off me. 

So basically, I was told by one of the other officers, “as you’re get very emotional and angry, we’re going to have to consider taking your firearms license off of you.”

I said you’re actually threatening me? So they said, “are we going to have to take your guns off you Rhona?” And see, when he said that I just silence and just backed off. I totally felt it and there and then and I thought, fine, I have to take this higher. Unfortunately, and this is the reason I went to legal action was when I raised this as a formal grievance a formal complaint, they basically came after me. So they did take my phone.

September Smith:  Who was getting emotional? Who was over reacting?” 

Rhona Malone:  So I basically “I had my firearms license taken off me, I was taken out of the team, so I was isolated from the people that were my support network, who were very supportive of me at that time. And I was put to a different station. I had agreed to do some sort of mediation to help resolve the problem because at the end of the day, I just wanted to do my job. And the reason that I raised it as a grievance was because I was getting attacked by these false allegations of misconduct through my gun, throwing my belt with a loaded weapon, and getting an email saying that can’t work with other women. And I thought, they’re gonna end up accusing me of something that I can’t protect myself with evidence against. And this was in the police. I mean, if we just stop for a minute and think about that for a moment. The police are there to uphold the law. And the very thing I was doing for other people, I wasn’t getting from the police. I was getting attacked by my senior management, by senior officers who were absolutely using their ranking and authority against me at every opportunity to silence me, and I just wasn’t remaining quiet. They didn’t know how to handle that it didn’t know how to deal with that. So that’s how they make it out, “you’re being a woman, you’ve being neurotic, the same words kept coming up. My male counterparts, we’re not getting treated the same.

So I’m accusing a senior off sort of misconduct, at this point for discrimination, bullying, victimization, and his guns never got taken off him. The question never even came up about taking his authorization only. And yet mine got taken away, because I went off for a couple of weeks because I was out, you know, because that had affected my stomach, the stress, but it was something that I could manage. I wasn’t mental at that point. I was tired to fighting. And so just needed a couple of weeks. I was tired of having to defend myself and try to find help and support that just wasn’t coming. Unfortunately, again, the other thing that they did was they promoted these people in the background. 

So the very people who were doing this were getting promoted??

The very people that were very people that attacked me, and the two senior officers, the one that accused me of throwing a belt, that was a misunderstanding, and the one that sent that discriminated in the email, both were promoted. So how, how is anybody gonna react to that? The whole of the Police Scotland and everybody knew about that email, that email went far and wide. 

September Smith:  So they are rewarded and you are having the pressure put on you.

Rhona Malone:  So I’ve had my guns taken off me, I’m out of the department. And I was trying to tell senior management this, and they just weren’t listening. 

But it’s because he didn’t want to, they were trying to suppress it. Which I since found out since I got the evidence after my court judgment, that basically they went out of their way to suppress it and quiet it. 

So it was a horrendous time. I mean, really, from the email until I took legal action. So January until the end of July when I ended up taking legal action, because I was just getting nowhere with Police of Scotland.” 

September Smith:  Early on in the three-year struggle, they offered to pay you within an NDA, a legal document to stop you from speaking about what happened, and also, it wasn’t just to stop you from speaking about what happened, it was also to stop you from assisting any colleagues with similar situations. That would have been an easy way out. Why did you not? I mean, it’s an easy way out, it would have saved you all those years, and then the trauma and the effect it’s had on your health and well-being. Why did you decide to not take the NDA and go forward?

Rhona Malone:  You don’t know, at that point where it’s gonna go. You know, I had no idea it would have been dragged out for so many years, I had no idea what was ahead of me. But at the time, I was a police officer. And I was so passionate about calling out what they did because one, it was my reputation. I had a wonderful experience, I loved being in the police. I miss not being a police officer, every day, every day, I have to deal with that grief because they took away something that was my life. That was my passion. But for me, I spent the majority of my time as a police officer seeking justice for other people. So why can’t I get justice? Why can’t I get acknowledgment and get accountability for something that was clearly wrong? And when they offered me a pay out, and this nondisclosure agreement, I was insulted. I was absolutely insulted. And I said, No, this is wrong. This is wrong on so many levels, because nobody’s going to know what you’ve done to me. And right now you’ve got two officers that have been promoted. They look like they’ve done nothing wrong. And meanwhile, my reputation that has been ruined. I’m not in the division anymore. And my mental health at that time had broken down, I had had a mental breakdown in the June of 2018. So I was extremely vulnerable and out when they offered that to me. And my finances were really impacted as well. I had the whole worry of what am I going to do if I end up losing my job here? Because I knew I think at the time that they offered me the first payment and NDA, we had been at legal action for at least five months and I was tired. I was physically mentally exhausted, my mental health was still dramatically impacted. And even the thought of being known police officers made me out. I was out police officers, I couldn’t go any police stations, I couldn’t look at police cars, anything that reminded me of the police. It affected me so badly, it meant I didn’t leave the house for a long, long time.

And the other thing was, when this all started, when this happened, I couldn’t find any other women to ask for support. 

September Smith:  Well I wonder why..how many other NDAs had been taken that possibility out of the game.

Rhona Malone:  I could not find any help to support me who I could talk to. I mean, if you’re an alcoholic, if you’ve got a drug addiction, you have two groups, you have support networks, you can go and speak to people. And I had nobody, I was on my own, I was isolated. By this time, the very people who I thought were family had basically just abandoned me. So I was literally on my own. 

And then when I got offered this, I have no idea of where it came from. I have no idea of why here the strength came from, but I just did not sure it’s wrong for you to do that. And I’m not going to say that. 

And the other thing was, there was an extra cause that they tried to put and that would have prevented me being a witness for any other police officer who was taking Police Scotland to court. And I think that Lisa found out that it would have been illegal no way they couldn’t have done it. But they tried. And it shows you the lens they went to.

September Smith:  Also, it shows you that there was some understanding that perhaps this sort of case might arise again if they had the forethought of thinking “oh, and you can’t be standing as a witness for anyone else..” that’s because you know that there are other cases.

Rhona Malone:  And there are, there are many.

I mean, I have been approached by many women since I went public in 2020. I went public after I left the police, I couldn’t do before because I was a police officer, which is another obstruction and limitation. “When I public, the number of women that came forward was phenomenal. These are women that left the police, that didn’t take any action or were taking action. And you know, they reached out and said you’re not alone. And that that that was so powerful for me that I’d been so alone for such a long time. It really, really helped.”

September Smith:  And you know, you’re like a lightning rod for them. Because no doubt they were alone and felt alone. And that one voice, that one woman who didn’t take the NDA fought and sacrificed. 

September Smith:  Speaking of sacrifice, a question that I’d love to ask is, what did you lose? And what did you gain? 

We’ve talked about some of what you lost, but it also impacted your health and there are ongoing effects to that. I understand how that can happen. How did it affect you.

Rhona Malone:  So every day, I have to manage my mental health. I have been to a lot of treatment over the years, and I’ve spoken to some wonderful people that have helped me. I never experienced mental health before this, never had it. And I say to people, when you join the police there are things that you will see and do, and you will never be able to unsee or undo them, that will always be etched in your mind. That’s how mental health is. I can’t unsee this now. I can’t unfeel This, I can’t and be this, it is part of me. And that’s not okay. That is not okay. That I was led that that resulted in that happening because it was totally unnecessary. If the police, the organization I loved and believed and held in high regard, had basically done what they said they do, which is they look after the police officers and the well being as a priority, we will support you…” If they had done that., I would not be here today because there would be I would have been in a safe environment that was not a safe environment, but I didn’t know I didn’t. So it was hidden from me that that should add that for sad have you know, so yeah, I lost my mental health. And there’s something I have to deal with after dinner. And I’ll never forget that.

September Smith:  And financially?

Rhona Malone:  It was really financially is horrendous. So this court case, I didn’t get support from the Federation, I didn’t get support from the police. What I got was ignored, obstructed, misled, limited information. And I ended up paying for my own legal support. So my own legal team have spent an excess of 70,000 pounds to get my case to court. 

Now, the social injustice element of my case is also something that needs to be highlighted. So you’ve got your nondisclosure agreements and social injustice. If you add it up against the public portion the police were using the public portion against me and no body was regulating it or holding them accountable.

September Smith

The funny way the whole NDA thing works, they let you know, we’ve got deeper pockets than you do. You’ve got your own resources, we’ve got all the finances necessary, we can wait you out. David and Goliath”

Rhona Malone:  It absolutely is, but I have, genuinely, I cannot thank my family enough that without them, I would never have got justice because they have basically supported me. And they have paid for my legal bills as well. So at the age of 45, I’ve got my mom and dad still paying for me looking after me, but also pay my legal bills. 

And, you know, I was offered a second amount of money and another NDA just before the court case, because I was literally on my knees, and I nearly took it. 

September Smith:  They’re nearly where they wanted you. 

Rhona Malone:  They had me wanted me. For three years to get to court, they’re basically financially crippled me, it affect my mental health, and kept me in limbo. That was another thing, I was in limbo for a long time. “I couldn’t work because I was so ill. And I couldn’t go back to the police because it costs so many mental health issues. And at the end of the day, I just wanted finish it an end it. I was mentally exhausted and not just end as in finish the court case, but there was a point that my mental health was so bad that I was ready to end my life.” 

Now, I know, I was so unwell at that time, 

It was such a dark time, I don’t want to talk about that again because it brings back memories that I don’t want to think about. 

September Smith:  I respect what

Rhona Malone:  They created that situation. And there was no need for that. But I nearly took that NDA and nearly to that second amount of money. And then my partner’s family came along and said, We’ll give you the 20,000 that you need to take us to court. So they didn’t give me no it’s not a small amount of money. 20,000 pounds I don’t know for that works out in dollars, but it’s a phenomenal amount of money when you don’t have any. And I don’t have any, I was ready to sell my house. You know, I’ve got three children that are older, but I can’t physically and or financially help them. They were being mum and dad to me, they were looking after me. So my mum and dad looking after me. I had my children looking after me, that is not a situation that anybody should be in.

September Smith:  You as a former upstanding, totally capable, Police officer and reduced to that. 

And now you’ve gone on, and you’ve got two new paths that you’ve taken. You’ve got your new career, but you’re also doing speaking around this very issue, which I think is such a valuable thing. It’s a story that the world needs to hear. Where are you speaking? And what is the impact that it’s having?

Rhona Malone:  So one of the things that I always said was when this was over, I want to help others. I want to be an advocate for women for police officers in the same situation. Because there wasn’t anybody there for me. And I think just having somebody to see it’s okay. It’s okay to stand up and say this is not right. And you want things to change. Makes a lot of difference and the police, you are institutionalized. I see it as a domestic abuse situation. You are so controlled. It’s a disciplined environment and you are controlled. And there are many officers of ranks that misuse and abuse their power and authority in different ways, which is just like a can of worms, there are just so many different scenarios and situations. But it’s an environment that’s nurtured this sort of behavior, unfortunately, and rewards it. 

So nobody was actually coming in to say actually you can stand up. Because the fear, the fear is so great of standing up or doing something about it, you’ve got yourself in a set, some people get themselves in a situation where there’s reliant on the money that comes in, and I was one of them, you know, and that’s what made it so difficult. I didn’t have a plan B, I didn’t have the insurances in place that could have protected me and paid for this employment. I thought I did, but the Police Federation abandoned me when I needed it most as well. And that’s a whole other story.

But the main factor was wasn’t prepared. And when you’re done in an institution like that, as a family, you don’t believe for one minute like me, I had utter faith and trust in this organization, and the people I worked with, I never knew this was going to happen. 

So speaking out, and standing up as loud as I can to as many people as I can to share my experience, if that gives them the strength to do something for themselves or for others then brilliant. But I think changes come in. And it’s not okay to stand on the sidelines and not do anything about it.

September Smith:  Now, a question that I often ask in this season, because it’s about huge transitions that women have gone through is what 

knowing what you know, now, what do you wish you had known at the outset of all of this? And that’s what also I would think that a lot of other women in your position or similar situations, should know ?

Rhona Malone:  There are about three things:

Have a plan B, financially, 

make sure you don’t just rely on just one organization for the insurance. So make sure you have good insurance that covers employment.

And make sure you’ve got savings. make sure you’ve got a plan B that you can look after yourself for say three months, at least, just in case something happens no matter what it is.

The people around you are of huge importance. So there was a lot of negativity around me there was a lot of people giving me advice. But question who benefits from their advice? Is it you? Or is it them? And if they’re not helping you, you need to get rid of them. You need to create space between you and them, whether it’s space or just separation entirely. That needs to happen. 

Seek out people that will support and love you keep them close. And look and they will look after you. 

Listen to your gut. See throughout this when I haven’t listened to my gut things have gone wrong. And when I have, like with the NDAs, I knew not to sign them and my gut had said no, I nearly signed them but it was just out of desperation. I got back on track again. But your gut is very important. 

So influence, having a plan B, and yourself go with your everything in writing. Put everything in writing, that is really important because a lot of evidence that I found was through subject access requests and freedom of information – we can apply to an organization for any information they hold. And by law, they’ve got to give you it. Now the Police of Scotland, it took about four or five times for them to send information. And they still got a lot that they haven’t shared. But by law, this should be sharing a lot of the information, organizations and the UK certainly should be sharing that information. So everything in writing. If you speak to somebody verbally get them to put it in writing. If they’re going to if you don’t think they’ll put it in writing then just say can you put it in writing first and we’ll have a discussion afterward. You know, it’s vitally important going forward, call people out, they’re not nice.

September Smith:  fabulous information. 

Rhona Malone:  Unfortunately, these are things that I’ve learned because nobody was there to tell me these things. But looking back, that’s what I would do. 

September Smith:  So, what are you doing now that is totally a departure we can see over your shoulder their poster that that’s your current career, what are you now doing? And how did you get on that path?

Rhona Malone:  So as quite a weird way have I gone to but I sell houses now. I’m an estate agent, so I’ve always had a huge interest in property always, always, always be the circumstances just whenever, right? So for, you know, why not 70,000 pounds a day, I cannot start my own business. I see at this point, it was like and needed something to take my mind off what had been happening. And I’d went and went to university, so for the year before, so from 2020 to 21 I went and did a quarter postgraduate diploma and Career Guidance coaching and development. The idea was that I would be a career guidance practitioner but what I really did was it was like a year of career counseling. So during that period, I found out that I wanted to be an estate agent. So I graduated, I am a pastor, which I’m extremely proud of, because I’ve never been to university. That was the first time I’ve been. And yeah, I started my business in May of 2021. This year. 

September Smith:  So it’s an element of at all. You’re now an independent business owner. How does he experience that you had these this whole the whole end of your former incarnation as Rhona Malone police officer, and everything you went through? How does that inform how you show up now in your business and how you interact with people?

Rhona Malone:  Through the horrendous treatment that I experienced from all the people that are supposed to look after you, I never want you to experience ever. So my business is very much built on doing the right thing, about supporting people be near 100% less than understanding, problem-solving, finding outcomes, and all the things that I did as a police officer for other people, I still do but in the property market. 

But the reason I’m so driven, and I mean, I could never have went and worked with anybody again. And the simple reason is, I would never put myself in that situation again, never. Because I was so ill. I mean, I was in the darkest of places, and I never went to experience it again. So I’m taking control of my life. But the other thing is, I “also want other people to see that, that bad experience doesn’t define, it  you doesn’t mean that you have to be miserable and a victim for the rest of your life. If anything, if you are, they win 100% And you know, I love myself too much to not succeed and achieve and something else.” They are missing out on something great. That’s how I see it, and every woman should see that. Because they’re wonderful people, so creative, so independent. And we have relied on conditioning since we were young to believe we were second best, we’re not equal, maybe not everybody, I’m not speaking for them down just speaking from our own experiences. It’s important to believe in yourself to find that confidence and love and take that on and help others in whatever you choose to do.

September Smith:  You’re doing that to your new business as an estate agent, but Rhona, I think you’re also very powerfully doing that through public speaking about the situation. Well, I hope you continue doing it because your story is very important, is very impactful. It’s an extremely moving

Rhona Malone:  Again, if I didn’t do something with this, it would have been wasted and what would have been the point? But I’m trying to turn it into something good. You know, it was a horrible set. It was a horrible experience, and there are horrible people out there. But you can turn that around. And you can learn from that and you can help change. Help influence progress and change in organizations like that. 

Because at the end of the day that our police force, it’s my duty still, I’m not a police officer anymore, but still my duty, because that will never leave me to make sure that people are safe. You know, if I didn’t challenge the police of Scotland, if it didn’t take it to that extreme, of going to court, they would have just gotten away with that, and more and more would have been affected, and that’s not okay.

September Smith:  And nothing changes if nothing changes. 

September Smith:  Rhona, what you did, the battle that you put in, and the impact that it had on you do something that we all owe you a debt of gratitude for

Rhona Malone:  I don’t I don’t see that. It was just it was a natural thing for me to do. And I love people saying that to me, but I really need them to put that energy and support into other women who are going through this just now. 

September Smith:  Yeah.
Thank you so much for being with me today and talking to me about this. This is such a moving story, but it’s also such an important story and I’m really, really grateful that you shared that with me today. Thank you.

Rhona Malone:   Thank you for asking. Thank you, September.

September Smith

Hi - I'm September Smith

With 15+ years experience with online tech & tools, audio/video media and growing your business, I help entrepreneurs learn how to use media opportunities like podcast guesting to rapidly build their brand.

Whether it’s to grow your speaking career, to get more widely known or to better position yourself as the authority you really are – strategic podcast guesting is a savvy move. I can help you figure out your best strategy and get you rapidly and effectively launched leveraging this powerful medium.

Contact me at september@ofcoursepro.com – or book a complimentary consultation call.  Join the ranks of people making guesting really work for them! Let’s get YOU started

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