LONDON – London police officers regularly make jokes about rape and exchange racist messages, according to a report from the UK’s official police watchdog which details patterns of misconduct and bullying within the force, the latest blow to a related service that has faced intense scrutiny in recent months.
According to a report by the Independent Office on Police Conduct, the police watchdog, which oversees the police, made more than a dozen recommendations to tackle the problem. It said the episodes it detailed were not separate episodes or the work of a few “half-bitten apples”.
The report comes amid growing calls for increased surveillance of the force following its abduction, rape and murder. Sarah Everarda 33-year-old woman in London, by a Metropolitan Police Service officer in March 2021 highlighted broader concerns about misogyny in policyand violence against women and girls.
“The behavior we discovered was disgraceful and far below the standards expected of the officers involved,” said Sal Naseem, the police watchdog’s regional director. in a statementadded that “the issues are not individual or historical.”
Mr. Naseem said that the watchdog welcomes current efforts to address the root cause of problematic behavior and attitudes from the police force, including continuing formal independent reviews of standards and culture in the servicebut “more is needed.”
“Our recommendations focus on identified cultural issues and are intended to ensure that those who work for the force feel safe with their colleagues and the community feels safe with those who do not. duty to protect them,” Mr. Naseem said.
The Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement that the actions of police officers in central London that the report details “do not represent the values” of the force.
The report is the culmination of findings from a series of investigations into the Metropolitan Police Department that uncovered evidence of bullying and discrimination within its ranks. They started after a complaint that an officer had sex with a drunk at the police station, but quickly developed into many other problems.
According to the report, the investigation ended in September after reviewing thousands of text messages between officers, many of which were “sexually suggestive, discriminatory, or suggestive of violence” and are often what officers on their defense team described as “joking”.
The report also detailed repeated racism and xenophobia, with messages between officers mocking the Black Lives Matter movement and non-Christian religions, insulting people with disabilities. and include homophobic comments.
The investigations were started in 2018, long before the nation’s outcry over the policy following Everard’s death, but have since gained newfound resonance.
Evidence uncovered in the report included a series of messages between employees in WhatsApp groups, with openly offensive and racist comments, as well as disparaging comments about women.
In one exchange, two officers talked about domestic violence, with one officer writing about women, “Knock a bird and she will love you. Human nature.”
In another exchange, a male officer said to a female officer, “I would be happy to rape you.”
The report says that “the casual and slanderous nature of this communication suggests a culture where officers are comfortable making these remarks, suggesting it is part of the status quo rather than the norm.” an exception to the norm.” It added: “the messages appear to be delivered with no fear of impact or consequences.”
The report made 15 recommendations to address potential cultural issues within the force, including the recommendation that the organization “is publicly committed to being an anti-racism organization with a zero tolerance policy.” tolerance for sexism, alienation, bullying and harassment”.
Bas Javid, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Department, said in a statement that he was “angry and disappointed to see officers engaged in sharing sexist, racist and discriminatory messages” and that more clearly needed to be done to eradicate bullying and discrimination from the force.
“The actions of these officers between 2016 and 2018 were unacceptable, unprofessional, disrespectful and strongly offensive,” he said.
Several officers have been subjected to misconduct proceedings as a result of the investigation. According to the watchdog, fourteen people have been informed that they are under investigation, and two officers have been fired for serious misconduct and placed on a blacklist of future employment with the police. . Two others have resigned and several others face disciplinary action.
Sue Fish, a former Nottinghamshire police chief in northern England who has spoken out in favor of ending misconduct in the police force, said the report “graphically depicts a culture of segregation. Racism and toxic sexism, endemic in policing.”
She said police forces should make it clear that there is no tolerance for such behaviour, making it clear to officers that their interactions on social media must follow the officer’s code of conduct. , including when on duty and transitioning the testing and hiring process.
“This report focuses on the Met, but it can be reflected in almost every police station above and below the country,” she said.
Several lawmakers have called for the resignation of Cressida Dick, head of the Metropolitan Police Service, including Diane Abbott, an opposition Labor lawmaker representing an east London borough, in a post on Twitter.
But the government has so far stood behind Ms. Dick despite the turmoil of the past year.
Priti Patel, Britain’s Home Secretary, who oversees public safety, in a statement condemned the officers’ behavior as “sick” and called on the police agency and the mayor of London. make recommendations “as soon as possible.”
Yvette Cooper, the opposition Labor Party lawmaker responsible for policing, said the actions were a “total disgrace.”
“The important work the police do means that the highest standards must always be maintained and abuse must be eliminated” she said in a statement.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/01/world/europe/london-police-misogyny-racism.html London Police Eminent Culture Report on Misogyny and Racism