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London police institutionally racist and sexist, report finds

By:
Reuters
Updated: Mar 21, 2023, 15:05 GMT+00:00

By Muvija M LONDON (Reuters) - London's Metropolitan Police is institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic and unable to police itself, an independent review said on Tuesday, heaping pressure on the Met's new chief to reform Britain's biggest police force.

A Metropolitan Police officer stands on duty in London

By Muvija M and Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters) – London’s Metropolitan Police is institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic and unable to police itself, an independent review said on Tuesday, heaping pressure on the Met’s new chief to reform Britain’s biggest police force.

The review was commissioned by then-head of the Met, Cressida Dick, in 2021 after a serving officer was sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of a young woman, Sarah Everard, a shocking case that put a spotlight on the force’s broader culture.

Louise Casey, a member of parliament’s upper house who led the review, said “radical” reform was needed after severe failings were found across the Met, which employs more than 43,000 officers and staff.

“We have found widespread bullying, discrimination, institutional homophobia, misogyny and racism,” the report said, adding “women and children do not get the protection and support they deserve”.

Women in the force were reluctant to speak out for fear of ramifications for their career, the report said, with misogynistic comments often passed off as “banter”.

In one example a gay, female officer was discouraged from making a formal complaint after a male colleague told her his “balls were cold” and requested she “warm them up”.

Other instances cited included a Sikh officer having his beard cut because an officer thought it was funny, and bacon being left inside the boots of a Muslim officer.

‘SCATHING’ REPORT

The report, which interior minister Suella Braverman described as “scathing”, comes more than two decades after a 1999 inquiry into the murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence identified institutional racism within the force.

The review said the biggest barrier was the Met’s culture of defensiveness and denial about the scale of its problems.

Met Commissioner Mark Rowley, Britain’s most senior police officer, told reporters: “We’ve let Londoners down and we’ve let our own frontline down … I’m deeply sorry.”

“(The report) generates a whole series of emotions: anger, frustration, embarrassment … But most of all, it generates resolve,” he added, saying the force’s professional standards department had been “stepped up.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said trust in the police had been “hugely damaged”. Braverman told parliament “some of the huge challenges for the organisation may take years to fully address.”

The 360-page report listed strong leadership, a women’s protection service, and a new children’s strategy as some of its recommendations.

(Reporting by Muvija M, Michael Holden and Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien, Christina Fincher and Bernadette Baum)

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