The Casey Report’s damning verdict on the Metropolitan Police’s approach to women is blunt: ‘The review finds the Met to be institutionally sexist and misogynistic.’ This aspect of the Met was identified in the way it treats victims, its approach to allegations against officers, and its treatment of female staff.
The Casey Report was commissioned following the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer; accordingly, the Met’s approach to violence against women sits at the heart of this report – and the verdict is damning: ‘women do not get the protection and support they deserve.’
The Met’s approach to the victims of rape and sexual violence has been singled out for criticism, as part of an “endemic culture of disbelieving victims.” One victim was ‘mocked… by rude, sarcastic and entirely callous’ officers; another was told she “should and could have done more” to avoid being raped;’ others were gaslighted and made to feel that they ‘had done something wrong or been over-dramatic.’ The report notes that the Met’s inadequate response to female victims of crime, in particular victim blaming, has been chronicled in a series of reports since 2013, without improvement.
The statistics bear out that violence against women and girls is not taken seriously. The report noted that the Met were about half as likely as comparable forces to categorise a domestic abuse incident as a “crime”; and of those crimes, less than 7% would result in a charge. When those charges went to court, the Met consistently achieved a conviction rate lower than the national average.
This is particularly true in cases where the accused is a police officer. When allegations of domestic abuse were made against a police officer, they were less than half as likely to receive a “case to answer” decision compared to other cases. Regarding such cases, the report noted ‘an overwhelming majority resulted in no formal action being taken.’
This misogynistic attitude also impacted women working within the Met. The report chronicles the act of “station stamping”, where new women police officers were bent over desks and had their bare buttocks marked with rubber stamps; humiliating initiations where women were forced to eat whole cheesecakes until they vomited; and an abounding culture tolerating sexual harassment and even abuse.
As a result, women resign from the met at four times the rate of other recruits; one third of women experienced sexism while working at the met, and 12% had directly experienced sexual harassment and assault. Those interviewed by the commission described the Met as a “Boys’ club”.
The report’s recommendations include several directly designed to combat this misogynistic attitude. These centre around improved vetting and misconduct systems, and the establishment of new specialist teams to deal with rape, sexual offences, and domestic abuse.
Concrete action is required to deal with these recommendations. The report notes that ‘despite the Met saying violence against women and girls is a priority… it has not been taken
as seriously’ as other crimes.