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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Jamie Grierson

‘I’m scared of the police’: Met report unearths misogyny, homophobia and racism

A motorcycle police officer from the Metropolitan police
The Casey review heard accounts of the problems faces by some officers and civilian employees. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The Casey review has unearthed a series of alarming stories exposing misogyny, homophobia and racism inside the Metropolitan police.

‘We’ve looked at the figures, use of force isn’t being used enough’

A Metropolitan police officer, G, described a disturbing session where a group of new officers were brought together and shown numerous examples of video footage in which force had been used against the guidelines of “proportionate, legal, accountable and necessary” but were presented as examples of good practice and proportionate use of force.

One example included footage of a Taser being used on a man who was in hospital, wearing a hospital gown and not presenting any sign of danger.

G spoke about her experience of working on a Sapphire team investigating rape and other sexual offences, and the resourcing issues they faced. She told the review that the unit’s freezers, which held and preserved evidence obtained from victims and survivors of sexual violence including swabs, blood, urine and underwear, would be so full it would take three officers to close them: one person to push the door closed, one person to hold it shut and one to secure the lock.

All the fridges used for rape kits were in bad shape, packed full and ruining evidence.

In the heatwave in 2022, G said one freezer broke down and all the evidence had to be destroyed because it could no longer be used.

‘I lost consciousness, he raped me’

A was a victim of domestic and sexual abuse at the hands of a fellow Met officer during a long-term relationship, the report says.

During one of her first postings she met her abuser, X, and they started a relationship.

The abuse escalated significantly and A was regularly attending work clearly distressed and with bruising on her wrists and face. She says the abuse was an open secret on their team but few people wanted to speak up.

“He smacked me round the face, I lost consciousness, he raped me,” she told the review. “I had a black eye, a split lip.”

An investigation was opened, closed and reopened, but within days of the murder of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens, a serving Metropolitan police officer, A says she received a one-line email from the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS), the Met’s complaints body, saying they had decided to take no further action on her case.

‘It’s your word against his’

L is a female officer who was sexually assaulted in the workplace on multiple occasions by a more senior male officer.

L says the officer would frequently touch her inappropriately: forcing her to sit on his lap, touching her on intimate parts of her body while she was getting changed in the communal changing rooms, and deliberately bruising her arms while claiming he was demonstrating “officer safety moves”.

L undertook a video interview, and a witness of her abuse provided a full written account. Months later, she found out by chance that the case had been dismissed.

She said: “It’s your word against his” and said her abuser had a “long, unblemished career in the Met”.

A motorcycle police officer from the Metropolitan Police

‘The only difference was that I was a woman’

N is an officer who has been consistently bullied in two of the Met’s specialist commands, where she has been targeted for her gender and labelled as a “troublemaker” for calling out problematic behaviour.

Both specialist commands where N has worked are heavily male-dominated and she found she struggled to fit into the culture and was made to feel isolated and miserable. “I had been a police officer for longer, been in [the command] for longer … I had all the skills – I could drive, I could shoot – I could do anything that they could. The only difference was that I was a woman.”

Incidents included officers ignoring her calls on the radio, rubbing her name out when she signed up for overtime, ignoring text messages and emails she sent, even when these were operational, giving her tasks no one else wanted to do, and sitting in silence when she attempted to join in conversations in the carrier vehicle or on long car journeys.

‘Just banter’

A gay female officer, known as B, reported a male officer after he told her his “balls were cold” and requested that she should “warm them up” while working together alone on a night shift.

She said this officer had a reputation for making other women cry with comments about their policing abilities and their bodies, and there was an unofficial rule that women wouldn’t usually work with him.

After she refused and did not laugh off his comments, she says the officer would no longer speak to her while they were working together, other than to shout at her in front of colleagues.

B reported his behaviour and was told it “wasn’t the worst thing in the world” and was probably just “banter”.

In another case study recorded in the report, C, a gay man, recalled that, in the first team he worked in, his colleagues were obsessed with his sex life and would continually ask inappropriate questions in briefings or around the police station, such as: “Are you a giver or a taker?”

He said there was a particularly “laddy” culture when working in carriers with groups of male officers, where offensive comments would be brushed off as “banter” and there was a pressure to put up with this to be accepted and fit in.

The suspect was ‘one of their own’

D is a longstanding member of Met staff and a victim of abuse and coercive control at the hands of a Met police officer, Officer Y.

After she ended the relationship, she says Officer Y’s behaviour escalated further, leading her to call the police on several occasions. She says her complaints, and the fears of her children, were either ignored or treated with complacency by Met officers.

She asked to be moved but was told the case would take some time as the suspect was “one of their own”.

Social services were so concerned that they submitted a report to the Met raising questions about whether Officer Y was fit to have contact with vulnerable people and fulfil his role as a police officer.

It took five months for the new unit to conclude that no criminal case would be brought against Officer Y.

‘I am scared of the police. I don’t trust my own organisation’

E is a gay officer who has been the target of a sustained campaign of homophobia from inside the Met.

He has been subject to malicious rumours that he is involved in party drugs and that he is having sexual relationships with senior male officers, which is the reason for having been given training opportunities or favourable postings.

Metropolitan police officers on patrol in London.

E has seen evidence of WhatsApp groups among serving officers joking about trying to stop and search him off-duty and using homophobic language. When E raised his treatment, he says the Met’s response was to brush off his experience.

“I am scared of the police. I don’t trust my own organisation,” he told the review.

‘Regretted relationship’

F is a Met officer who, while serving on a specialist unit, was groomed and coerced into a sexual relationship by a more senior colleague, Officer Z.

When F ended the relationship and reported the abuse, she says senior officers in her unit did not take it seriously.

On one occasion, an officer drew attention to a video of F “twerking and gyrating” with friends as evidence that she was lying about being uncomfortable with the behaviour of Officer Z on the same night. The DPS never met F.

She was informed that they would be taking no further criminal action against Officer Z. An officer emailed her to say they were of the opinion she had merely entered into a “regretted relationship”.

‘You have to try and be invisible as a black woman’

H, a black female officer, described a “horrific” misogynistic workplace culture where colleagues were “sex-obsessed” and would openly rate and grade female colleagues and members of the public on their appearance.

H says she was sent to work with a male officer who was known to like young black women.

She says he was an “awful character, committing lots of sackable offences” but seemed to be unsackable.

H describes an occasion where she was told her hair looked like she had been in an “electricity socket” 10 minutes after she had taken a shower following a physical training session.

“You have to try and be invisible as a black woman,” she told the review.

‘A Metropolitan police officer can continue to help those in need and yet be an abuser himself’

J is a female civilian who was in a relationship with a male Met police officer for several years, during which time he became controlling and coercive. He blamed her for his abusive behaviour, wearing down her self-esteem by telling her she was always wrong and he was always right.

His behaviour later escalated to physical violence. After the first occasion that he assaulted her, he told her if she tried to report it to the police he could deny it as there was no physical evidence. After this assault she was able to leave the relationship, seek the help of a women’s refuge, report his abuse to the local police and move away from the area.

“I find it terrifying and shocking, how a Metropolitan police officer can continue to help those in need and yet be an abuser himself.”

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