The London police force has lost public trust due to deep-rooted racism, misogyny and homophobia within the force. This is the conclusion of an independent commission of inquiry in a report that was published last night. The investigation was conducted after the rape and murder of Sarah Everard two years ago. That was done by an officer, who received a life sentence for it.
The report’s author, Member of Parliament Louise Casey, calls for deep reforms at the Metropolitan Police in the report. It is the largest police organization in the country, with more than 34,000 officers.
“It’s not our job as a public to protect ourselves from the police. It’s the police’s job to protect us citizens,” she says. “Too many Londoners have lost faith in the police to do this.”
Women and children abandoned
Casey calls the 363-page report “drastic, harsh and unforgiving”. She describes female officers and other employees experiencing systematic sexism and misogyny, and also writes that there are racist officers and employees with “deep-rooted homophobia”.
Women and children are abandoned by the London police, Casey writes. For example, violence against women is treated the same as all other forms of violence.
Culture of silence
It is not the first time that it has been concluded that there is racism within the London police. That also happened in 1999, after the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence. Casey says little has changed since then.
According to Casey, there is a culture within the police force of “saying nothing”. “Speaking up is not appreciated,” she says. “Diving, looking away and talking to people, that’s how it goes in the corps. Even if superiors are actively looking for candor, people are reluctant to step forward.”
Those who do speak out, she says, notice it in a negative way “for themselves, their career and their teams”. Whoever submits a complaint is not believed. “Racism, misogyny, homophobia and other discriminatory acts are tolerated, ignored or dismissed as ‘joke’.”
Hardly any guidance
According to Casey, the police are also unable to control themselves. This is partly due to the way of leadership within the force. According to her, the various parts of the force are not connected with each other and compete with each other. There is also no record of which agents have followed which training, which means that it is not clear whether agents are authorized for their position.
Moreover, hardly any records are kept of whether agents are functioning properly or whether agents need help with their development. Furthermore, there is a lot of stress among officers within the force and there is too little supervision. The police in the area no longer exist, she says.
Lunchbox in refrigerator with evidence
And there are also problems with regard to detection. Officers regularly store evidence in “crowded, dilapidated, or broken refrigerators and freezers.” A lunch box was kept in one of the refrigerators, contaminating the evidence. And another refrigerator broke down last summer, so evidence could not be used.
If reforms fail, Casey thinks splitting up the force should be considered.
Police Chief Mark Rowley says the report has sparked “anger, frustration and embarrassment”. “We have failed the Londoners and our own people,” he says. “I’m very sorry about that.” Rowley says the force has been “reinforced” in recent times, but they’re not there yet. “Every day we take steps.”