In March 2021, Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old Londoner walking home, was abducted, raped and murdered by a police officer who was later convicted. to life imprisonment. This January, another ex-cop was sentenced to the same sentence after having raped 12 women and having committed multiple abuses for years. These agents were not simple “bad apples” and the failure to identify the threat was not accidental, but a reflection of an “institutionally” sexist, racist and homophobic police force, according to an official report.
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He document of more than 350 pagesbased on interviews and data from the police themselves in a year-long investigation, portrays a force marked by racist and sexual incidents within the police force itself, repeated negligence in the management of cases that particularly affect women, children and ethnic minorities, and lack of resources to combat crimes against this part of the population.
“The Metropolitan Police preferred to pretend that their own perpetrators of inconceivable crimes were just ‘bad apples’ or even not police officers,” writes Louise Casey, Member of the House of Lords. appointed by the police themselves to make the report independent and specialist in social services and investigations into public mismanagement. “If these crimes cannot lead to self-reflection and reform, then what will it take? Many of the issues I raise in this analysis are not new. I discover that there is racism, sexism and institutional homophobia in the metropolitan police”.
Casey insists on the adjective “institutional” to underline that these are not isolated cases, but a deeper “culture” problem that is difficult to tackle without systemic reforms. He even argues that London’s police force, the largest in the country, may need to be divided in order to better manage it. He acknowledges that it would be a major and difficult restructuring, but suggests that if there are no quick changes, there will be no other alternative.
The portrait he makes in the report is of a police officer disconnected from the city he watches over. Most officers are male (71%) white (82%) who learned the job when robbery and street crime were the main problem in London in contrast to a diverse city (now nearly half the population is described as black, Asian or other minorities) and where gender-based violence and violence against children has skyrocketed in recent years. Neither the staff nor the resources have adapted to the new circumstances. Casey mentions cases of faulty or poorly maintained rape investigation kits while officers in other units have “all kinds of toys”, he said in an interview on BBC4 radio morning on Tuesday. “The police in general have to wake up to the need for the protection of women and children,” he insisted.
Casey calls for “a police cleanup” because law enforcement has lost the trust of citizens on the streets, especially minority women and men, who are disproportionately stopped and questioned. “The police have to change their relationship with black Londoners in particular. I’m sick of black Londoners not being heard, I’m sick of their mothers being afraid,” says Casey.
bacon in the boots
What is seen on the outside reflects what is happening on the inside, according to the report, which describes cases of sexual assault within the police force, a lack of accountability and low morale in particular among female officers. 12% of police officers say they have suffered sexual abuse or harassment at work and at least a third say they have suffered from sexism. Research is often dismissed or hidden, according to the report. A gay agent acknowledged being “afraid” of her own colleagues and multiple interviewees repeated that her complaints were not taken seriously or considered a sign that they were “problematic”.
The document also describes multiple racist incidents that are taken as “a joke” by bosses, such as putting bacon in the boots of a Muslim officer or telling an Indian policeman that he “smells like curry.”
Casey recommends creating specific units to combat violence against women, dismantling some police groups where there has been a particular lack of control, reviewing reporting protocols and hiring more specialists. The report also reflects how cuts after years of budget cuts by the Conservative government have damaged some basic services for the community.
Police Chief Mark Rowley, who took office in September after the previous chief resigned, acknowledges the problems portrayed in the report and says he will do “everything humanly possible” to get police to change and follow Casey’s recommendations. , although he avoids using the word “institutional”. Rowley also apologized to the Londoners for having “let them down”. Several public officials accepted the grim verdict of the report.
“There has to be a change in culture and leadership,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in an interview on the BBC. “What is happening is simply shocking and unacceptable.”
The London police report to the Ministry of the Interior in coordination with the City Council. The minister, Suella Braverman, said that the police have “a lot of work to do” and that the new police chief must bring “a complete change”. London Mayor Sadiq Khan described Tuesday as “one of the darkest days in the history of the Metropolitan Police”.