The Metropolitan Police suffered from ‘a culture of bullying’ and misogyny, according to a police watchdog which identified ‘often highly sexualised’ and violent language between officers passed off as ‘banter‘. The investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) focused on the conduct of police officers at Charing Cross police station following concerns in the wake of Black Live Matters and the murder of Sarah Everard.
Examples of ‘banter‘ cited in the report included ‘numerous messages about rape and raping each other‘ as well as homophobic comments and examples of ‘toxic masculinity‘. Evidence of bullying and harassment included ‘demeaning and intimidating actions‘ towards police officers on probation ‘such as beckoning them with a bell, and threats to cut their hair and belongings‘; women being sexually harassed or treated as a ‘weary female‘ when speaking out about the behaviour of male colleagues
Operation Hotton comprised a series of nine investigations mainly focused officers at Charing Cross station over concerns about misogyny and violence against girls and women. Both issues went to ‘the very heart of public confidence in policing‘. wrote Sal Naseem, regional director of the independent office for police conduct in his forward to the learning report. He continued: ‘Policing in the UK is by consent, which means the trust and confidence that the public has in the police service is critical. The behaviours we uncovered risk causing serious damage to that relationship.’
The police watchdog made a series of recommendations including that the Met publicly commit to ‘a position of zero tolerance on bullying and harassment‘. One police officer was referred to as ‘macrapey rape person‘ in a WhatsApp exchange. When officers were asked to provide an explanation for the nickname, one said there were ‘rumours about him bringing a woman back to the police station to have sex with‘; and another said it’s related to him ‘harassing them [women], getting on them, do you know what I mean, being like, just a dick‘. Others reported it relate to his ‘particular fondness of IC3 and IC4’ – the identity code used by the police to describe a person’s appearance ethnicity, black and Asian respectively.
The report compiled ‘numerous messages about domestic violence, plus sexually explicit, misogynistic and demeaning conversations’, including the following WhatsApp conversation:
Officer 1: “I fucking need to take my bird out, won’t see her until next Saturday. Then I have to work. Promised to take her out the Friday after. Making it up to her from when I backhanded her”
Officer 2: “Grab her by the pussy”
Officer 1: “You ever slapped your missus?… It makes them love you more. Seriously since I did that she won’t leave me alone. Now I know why these daft cunts are getting murdered by their spastic boyfriends. Knock a bird about and she will love you. Human nature. They are biologically programmed to like that shit.’
Black and Asian police officers told the watchdog that they were ostracised. ‘We found messages that evidenced repeated mocking of non-Christian religions, the Black Lives Matter movement, people with disabilities, racism and homophobia.’ The report cite the following comment as an illustration: ‘My dad kidnapped some African children and used them to make dog food.’
Meanwhile BBC Newsnight last night featured the case of a Rastafarian woman left naked in a police. Yvonne Farrell said she was ‘humiliated’ after sitting naked in a cell for three hours following her arrest by Hertfordshire Police.
She successfully sued for wrongful arrest, receiving an apology and £45,000 in compensation. ‘There needs to be a wider examination of how current structures and working practices shape police culture and how minorities – and sadly many women – are treated,’ Sir Peter Fahy, the former chief of Greater Manchester Police told the BBC.
She had been arrested after she sat on her partner’s car in Stevenage when a tow truck arrived to take it away in August 2018. When she refused to give her name at the police station, she was taken to a cell where a CCTV camera monitors the detainee at all times where she was asked to remove her clothing with a replacement ‘crop top and hot pants’ left in the cell.
‘I’m a 50-plus-year-old woman and a Rastafarian. Where are they going, giving me those items of clothing? I called them back and I said, “Listen, this is not suitable clothing. I need something long to cover”,’ she told the BBC.
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