The Metropolitan Police has been ordered to overhaul its culture and raise standards after an investigation found officers routinely shared violent, misogynist and discriminatory messages.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found that officers at Charing Cross police station in London had referred to a colleague as “mcrapey raperson”, while a male officer told a female officer that he would “happily rape you”.
The IOPC discovered messages had been dismissed as “banter” despite joking about rape, killing black children and domestic violence. One officer discussed “backhanding” his partner.
A number of messages mocked Muslims, the Black Lives Matter movement and people with disabilities.
The IOPC began its investigations in 2018 following a conduct referral alleging that an officer had sex with a drunk person at a police station. After a witness appeal, a number of officers came forward and the investigation was expanded to look into bullying, violence towards women, discriminatory language and other inappropriate behaviours.
The investigation revealed that officers who called out bad behaviour were “harassed, humiliated and excluded”, and the bullying culture was not challenged.
Home secretary Priti Patel has called the behaviour “sickening” and Met commissioner Cressida Dick will be summoned to a meeting with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan today (2 February).
IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said: “The behaviour we uncovered was disgraceful and fell well below the standards expected of the officers involved.
While these officers predominantly worked in teams in Westminster, which have since been disbanded, we know from other recent cases that these issues are not isolated or historic.”
He acknowledged initiatives within the Met that have been launched to help rebuild trust and address the culture, but said “more is required”.
Naseem added: “Our investigation showed the officers’ use of ‘banter’ became a cover for bullying and harassment. Colleagues were afraid to speak out about these behaviours for fear of being ostracised, demeaned or told to get another job.
“We are grateful to those officers who were brave enough to speak to us about the cultural issues that existed within these teams, realising that in doing so they risked further bullying. This took courage. Hopefully our learning report and recommendations will give officers the confidence to come forward in the knowledge that people are listening and that changes will be made.
“The relationship between the police and the public is critical to maintaining the principle of policing by consent. The concerns about behaviour and culture addressed in our report, if allowed to continue and go unchallenged, risked causing serious damage to that relationship.”
During the investigation, 14 officers were put under notice that they were being investigated, two were dismissed for gross misconduct and one resigned. A number of other officers were summoned to misconduct meetings and have been issued with “practice requiring improvement notices”.
Responding to the report, Dick said there was “no place in the Met for the appalling behaviour displayed by officers at Charing Cross police station”.
“Their conduct does not represent our values and I am deeply sorry to everyone they have failed. I recognise there is a need for real change and we are creating a service that is utterly intolerant to bullying and discrimination.”
In March 2021, PC Wayne Couzens was convicted of the abduction, murder and rape of Sarah Everard, and during the case it was revealed he had shared a number of abusive WhatsApp messages.
In October, Baroness Louise Casey was invited to lead a wide-ranging review into culture and standards at the Met Police, but is yet to reveal her findings.