London police report sheds light on culture of misogyny and racism

LONDON – Police officers in London routinely made rape jokes and exchanged racist messages, according to a report by the official Englis...


LONDON – Police officers in London routinely made rape jokes and exchanged racist messages, according to a report by the official English police watchdog which detailed a pattern of misogyny and intimidation in the force, the latest blow to a beleaguered service that has come under intense scrutiny in recent months.

The findings reflect a troubling culture within the Metropolitan Police Service in London, according to the report released on Tuesday by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, the police watchdog, which made more than a dozen recommendations for solving the problem. He said the episodes detailed were not isolated episodes or the work of a few “bad apples”.

The report comes amid growing calls for increased force monitoring following the kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everarda 33-year-old Londoner, by a Metropolitan Police Service officer in March 2021 pointed out wider concerns about misogyny within the policeand violence against women and girls.

“The behavior we discovered was disgraceful and well below the standards expected of the officers involved,” said Sal Naseem, regional director of the police watchdog. in a reportadding that the “problems are not isolated or historical”.

Mr Naseem said the watchdog welcomed current efforts to root out problematic behaviors and attitudes from the police force, including an ongoing formal independent review of standards and culture within the servicebut “we need more”.

“Our recommendations focus on identified cultural issues and seek to ensure that those working for the force feel safe with their colleagues, and that communities feel safe with those whose job it is to protect them,” said Mr Naseem.

The Metropolitan Police Service said in a report that the actions of the central London police that the report details do not “represent the values” of the force.

The report was the result of findings from a series of investigations into the Metropolitan Police Service which revealed evidence of bullying and discrimination within its ranks. They started after a complaint alleging an officer had sex with an intoxicated person at a police station, but quickly encompassed many other issues.

The investigation concluded in September after a review of thousands of messages between officers, according to the report, many of which were “highly sexualized, discriminatory or referencing violence” and which were generally described as “jokes” by officers for their defense.

The report also detailed repeated racism and xenophobia, with posts between officers mocking the Black Lives Matter movement and non-Christian religions, insulting people with disabilities and including homophobic comments.

The investigations were opened in 2018, long before the national outcry against police that followed Ms Everard’s death, but have since taken on new resonance.

Evidence uncovered in the report included a series of messages between agents of WhatsApp groups, with highly offensive and overtly racist comments, as well as derogatory comments about women.

In one exchange, two officers spoke about domestic violence, with one writing about the women: “Kick a bird and she’ll love you. Human nature.”

In another exchange, an officer said to a female officer, “I would love to rape you.”

The report said, “The casual exchange and blasé nature of this communication indicate a culture where officers were comfortable making these comments, suggesting this was part of a status quo rather than an exception to the rule. standard”. He added : “the messages appeared to have been sent without fear of repercussions or consequences.”

The report offered 15 recommendations aimed at addressing the force’s underlying cultural issues, including recommending that it “publicly commit to being an anti-racist organization with a zero-tolerance policy toward sexism, misogyny, sexual abuse, and sexual abuse.” ‘bullying and harassment’.

Bas Javid, Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, said in a press release that he was “angry and disappointed to see officers involved in sharing sexist, racist and discriminatory messages”, and it was clear that more work needed to be done to eradicate intimidation and discrimination from the force.

“The actions of these officers between 2016 and 2018 were unacceptable, unprofessional, disrespectful and deeply offensive,” he said.

Several officers have already faced misconduct charges as a result of the investigation. Fourteen were told they were under investigation, and two officers were fired for gross misconduct and put on a list that bars them from working with police in the future, according to the watchdog. Two others resigned and several others were disciplined.

Sue Fish, the former chief constable of Nottinghamshire in northern England who has been a strong advocate for ending misogyny within the police service, said the report “graphically depicts the racist culture and toxic sexism that is endemic in policing”.

She said police forces should make it clear that there is zero tolerance for such behavior, make it clear to officers that their social media interactions are subject to the officer code of conduct, including when not not in service, and transform control and recruitment.

“This report focuses on the Met, but it could be reflected in virtually any police station across the country,” she said.

Some lawmakers have called for the resignation of Cressida Dick, head of the Metropolitan Police Service, including Diane Abbott, an opposition Labor MP who represents an east London district, in a post on Twitter.

But the government has so far backed Ms Dick despite the turmoil of the past year.

Priti Patel, Britain’s Home Secretary, responsible for overseeing policing nationwide, condemned in a statement the behavior of officers as “sickening” and called on the police service and the Mayor of London to implement the recommendations “as soon as possible”.

Yvette Cooper, the opposition Labor lawmaker responsible for policing, said the actions were a “total disgrace”.

“The vital work that the police do means that the highest standards must always be upheld and abuse must be stamped out,” she said in a statement.



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