Britain’s biggest police force is institutionally racist, misogynist and homophobic, a damning review has found. And there may be more officers like killer Wayne Couzens and serial rapist David Carrick.
The review by Baroness Louise Casey was commissioned in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder. The harrowing examples it sets out underline that this is not just about appalling individuals, but a rotten institution.
A police force that serves the rich doesn’t only reflect the worst aspects of capitalist society. It helps to express and perpetuate those attitudes and practices, and it attracts those who revel in such behaviours into its ranks.
The Metropolitan Police has failed to protect the public from officers who abuse women. And organisational changes have put women and children at greater risk and female officers and staff routinely experience sexism, the report said.
There are racist officers and staff and a “deep-seated homophobia” exists in the organisation, it found. Asked if there could be more officers like Couzens and Carrick in the force, Casey said, “I cannot sufficiently assure you that that is not the case.”
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said he accepts the “diagnosis” of prejudice in the force. But he said he would not use the term institutional because he views it as politicised and ambiguous.
Asked whether the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, in which both Couzens and Carrick served, will be disbanded, he said, “It clearly needs radical reform. I can’t disband it overnight because we have to protect Parliament and embassies tomorrow.” He added he hoped to shift the unit’s “orientation”.
Baroness Casey told the PA news agency that she was disappointed that he would not accept the term. But she said she would wait to see what action the force takes in the coming weeks and months.
Casey need not guess what’s coming. The answer is—nothing significant. Last October Casey found that hundreds of cops should have been sacked for racist or sexist behaviour. This included officers suspected of sexual assault and domestic abuse. And when there was disciplinary action, black officers are 81 percent more likely to face disciplinary action than white ones.
The then new Met commissioner Rowley said the report showed “patterns of unacceptable discrimination that clearly amount to systemic bias”. He said there would be action. He says the same now. All that has happened is that the Tories have given the police still more repressive powers, which the force has gleefully accepted.
Casey’s latest finding that the force is institutionally racist echoes that of the Macpherson Inquiry in 1999. That took place after Stephen Lawrence’s murder and the abject failures in how the Met investigated his death. Since then the force has remained largely white and male, the review found.
The Met was also accused of homophobia over the failure to stop serial killer Stephen Port after he took the life of his first victim. He went on to murder three more men. But police bosses denied there was an issue.
Relatives of the victims have called for a public inquiry into the force in the wake of the report. The sisters of Port’s fourth victim, Jack Taylor, Donna and Jenny, said, “You can’t put it right and change the culture if you don’t know what’s going wrong, why it’s going wrong, or fail to fully investigate the root of the problems. That is why there must now be a public inquiry into how and why this force is failing people so badly.”
Casey called for the Met to “change itself”, adding, “It is not our job as the public to keep ourselves safe from the police. It is the police’s job to keep us safe as the public. Far too many Londoners have now lost faith in policing to do that.”
It’s positive that so many people have seen through the cops’ claims of serving everyone equally and acting as a bulwark against evildoers. It’s a good thing that many people, encouraged by schooling, the media and politicians to respect the cops, now find themselves through their own experiences hating the police.
Casey pointed out that Carrick was only caught after one of his victims heard a statement made by Everard’s devastated mother and was moved to contact Hertfordshire Police. It wasn’t any action by the Met.
Casey’s 363-page report, published on Tuesday, found that violence against women and girls has not been taken as seriously as other forms of violence. It found that there is widespread bullying in the Met, with a fifth of staff with protected characteristics— for example, race, sexuality or disability—being victimised.
That’s how they treat their own. “Female officers and staff routinely face sexism and misogyny,” the report said. The review showed how crimes against women and children are investigated.
Officers are relying on “overstuffed, dilapidated or broken fridges and freezers” instead of fast-track forensic services, the report also said. The report described how a lunchbox was found in the same fridge as rape samples, which would have contaminated the evidence. The appliances are so full they have to be strapped shut. And last summer one fridge containing rape kits broke down, meaning the kits could not be used as evidence.
Baroness Casey accused the Met of a “tick box” approach to the slew of negative reports about its performance in recent years, preferring to put the blame on individual bad apples rather than tackling systemic problems.
If the force does not reform, it could face being broken up in future, Baroness Casey said. It should be abolished now.
Casey’s report lifts the lid on some aspects of policing and undermines the Met’s reputation. But there’s a danger that the slew of reports is used by the cops to give the impression of change when no change happens.
The reports come and go. The Met top cops come, saying they will bring change, and go having changed nothing. What remains is that the police in general and the Met, in particular, are institutionally racist and sexist and homophobic and corrupt to their rotten core.
A former Met Police officer has said she witnessed her male colleagues share “revenge porn” while at work. Alice Vinten, who spent 11 years in the Met, said she saw fellow officers share pictures that had been sent in confidence by their girlfriends. They were often also in the police force.
Vinten said she experienced sexism throughout her career as a frontline police officer, and even had male colleagues randomly show her pornography. Vinten said she overheard police officers say 99 percent of rape cases were regretful sex, and “women would cheat and say it was rape to get out of it”.
She added, “We were always told never to apologise, never admit to doing anything wrong—that kind of attitude really does not help. If you root out the people who make these comments you root out the really bad ones.”
The report said, “The Met has not protected its female employees or members of the public from police perpetrators of domestic abuse, nor those who abuse their position for sexual purposes.
“Despite the Met saying violence against women and girls is a priority, it has been treated differently from ‘serious violence’. In practice this has meant it has not been taken as seriously in terms of resourcing and prioritisation.”
Officers in an elite Metropolitan Police unit bought themselves tomahawk axes and night vision goggles that could not be used on London’s streets, according to the Casey Review. They also treated themselves to personalised jackets and iPads.
A senior officer in the Met’s specialist firearms command had to step in to stop the squad using specialist camouflage car wraps that were useless in the English capital.
Insiders said there was “a boys’ club that looks after its own” in the unit. And that there were “power couples… this is one of the most insidious issues we have… they pass information around quicker than a radio”.
Armed officers were allowed to get away with rule-breaking because they are harder to replace than others, the review said.
It said, “We were told of one senior Met officer telling others in their chain of command that it was alright to ‘colour outside the lines’—to bend and break rules—because firearms officers are harder to replace than other officers and need to be cherished.”
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