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Today (21st March 2023) sees the release of the final report from Baroness Casey on the standards of behaviour and internal culture of the Metropolitan Police Service.
The damning report is vast in scope, highlighting a wide range of significant and serious failures within the Metropolitan Police, where misogyny, racism and homophobia are rife. It tells us yet again what we already know to be true; that the toxic culture within the Met has gone unchecked and requires a radical transformation in order for them to regain public trust and confidence.
A cultural acceptance of Violence Against Women and Girls
Despite assurances from the Met that tackling violence against women and girls is a priority, it has still not been afforded the same priority as other serious crimes such as those connected to drugs and knives.
At one point in the Review, that discrepancy in prioritisation is particularly stark: “a Met murder investigation will receive a whole team of experienced and specialist trained detectives, whereas a woman raped and left in a coma would likely be dealt with by one trainee detective constable.” This example offers a shocking insight and makes it entirely unsurprising that there are problems with both investigating crime and retaining officers. There are also horrifying cases of officers being sexually and racially abused, and a catalogue of other hate crimes against minority police officers. This speaks to the culture of misogyny and sexism, as well as that of homophobia and racism.
It is clear accountability has been almost nonexistent, and defensiveness has prevailed. This has to change.
Jayne Butler, CEO of Rape Crisis England & Wales, says:
This is a hard-hitting and painful report for women and girls and for victims and survivors. We think particularly of the Everard family today, on what will be another painful milestone and reminder of Sarah’s rape and murder.
The report describes a police service at rock bottom. Inexperienced staff including supervisors, resourcing gaps, ineffective training material and impossible caseloads point to a service in crisis. We must see urgent change.
There has been a culture of defensiveness and denial when faced with accusations of wrongdoing in the past, and we will watch closely to see what actions are taken in response to the report over the next few weeks. We cannot accept that prejudice, stereotypes and rape myths are expressed openly by officers without being challenged and that there are no consequences for it.
Women and girls deserve to see change, deserve to feel safe, and deserve to feel that the police will do their jobs. Hardworking and dedicated officers who are trying to serve deserve a system with appropriate support, training, knowledge and resourcing. They also need support when they are bullied and victimised.
The recommendations within the report are wide-ranging and potentially transformative, but they must be implemented quickly and decisively. This cannot be another box-ticking exercise. We know that policing intersects with other failing systems such as the courts, CPS, and mental health services, meaning rape victims are let down time after time. We also look to those institutions to respond and address their own learnings from this report.
Amongst the recommendations made, we particularly welcome:
- The Met should radically reform and re-specialise Public Protection Teams, including the establishment of new Specialist ‘Soteria’ teams to deal with rape and serious sexual offences. The Met should also aim to specialise its domestic abuse service to create more victim-centred approaches and to work more closely and in a more integrated way with non-police specialist domestic abuse services. These teams should be reinvigorated and properly resourced.
- The Met should recognise trauma and desensitisation in its officers as a corporate responsibility and provide trauma training for Public Protection and Response officers as a priority, making access to counselling and other services easy.
- The Met should build a frontline policing service for London which is as revered and well-resourced as its central specialist teams.
- An Independent, multi-disciplinary team of officers and staff should be brought in by the Met to reform how it deals with misconduct cases, enabling the Met and other forces with a clear legal power to reopen closed misconduct investigations.
- Effectively disbanding Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection in its current form, ensuring there is an absolute ‘reset’ with a new ethos, identity and a focus on rooting out unacceptable behaviour.