Content warning: References to violence, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault. Racism, sexism, homophobia.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has reported finding evidence of “misogyny, discrimination and sexual harassment” within the ranks of the metropolitan police.
The IOPC report covered nine investigations conducted by the Metropolitan police, predominantly from Charing Cross, and found “behavioural themes” of:
- Bullying and aggressive behaviour
- ‘Banter’ used to excuse oppressive and offensive behaviours
- Toxic masculinity, misogyny and sexual harassment
- [Opposition to] Challenging and reporting improper conduct
The report uncovered messages between officers making jokes about turning African children into dogfood, bragging about domestic violence, and about raping other people and fellow officers, amongst other unsavoury things.
The report says:
“The team at Charing Cross where we identified these problems has now been disbanded, yet we have seen evidence of this behaviour in subsequent investigations. We believe these incidents are not isolated or simply the behaviour of a few ‘bad apples’.”
Some officers reported an “us and them” culture which strongly dissuaded officers from reporting misconduct by their colleagues. One officer was found to have sent a message saying: “There’s a few of those grassing c***s I would like to knife.”
The report comes almost a year after the rape and murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of Met Police officer Wayne Couzens, and less than 4 months after the Metropolitan police were forced, after a long legal struggle, to apologise and pay compensation to Koshka Duff, who was strip-searched and subject to sexual harassment and physical and mental abuse when she was detained in 2013. Duff was detained after she offered a legal advice card to a 15 year old who was being subjected to a stop-and-search. One officer in Duff’s case was found to have said to strip-search her “By any means necessary, treat her like a terrorist, I don’t care.”
The report details a long list of recommendations on how to improve improve the underlying culture of the metropolitan police.
A statement by the Metropolitan Police said:
“The conduct of a team of officers at Charing Cross police station in central London does not represent the values of the Metropolitan Police Service.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
“It has been clear for some time that there are problems with the culture of the Metropolitan Police,”
“The public rightly expects the behaviour of the police to be beyond reproach – standards must be raised.”
Labour MP and former shadow cabinet member, Diane Abbott, said that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, should resign in light of the IOPC’s report.
In an urgent question session in the House of Commons, Minister of State for the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office, Kit Malthouse, said of the IOPC report said:
“The report makes for extremely disturbing reading. It describes abhorrent behaviour and misogynistic, homophobic and racist communication between officers that appears to have become commonplace.”
“This is obviously about more than individuals, it is about how a toxic culture can emerge and fester within a police force.”
“These events have a corrosive impact on public trust in policing, and undermine the work of thousands of diligent and brave police officers who keep us safe every day.”
“Being a police officer is an honour. … The findings of the IOPC report are shaming for those who have received that honour. The standards must be raised.”
The report can be found in full here.