A recent review has found that the Metropolitan Police in London is institutionally racist, sexist, and homophobic. The review, conducted by an independent panel, was commissioned after the police force faced criticism for its handling of the murder of Sarah Everard earlier this year.
Following the abduction, rape, and murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021 by one of its officers, Wayne Couzens, a review was commissioned into the Metropolitan Police. Louise Casey led the year-long investigation into the force.
The report concluded that the force’s institutionalized practices are discriminatory and contribute to a lack of trust and confidence in the police among minority communities. The review highlighted several areas where the force needs to improve, including recruitment, training, and accountability mechanisms.
The panel made several recommendations for the police force to address these issues, such as improving diversity in recruitment and leadership, increasing transparency and accountability, and strengthening the force’s internal monitoring and complaints mechanisms.
The findings of this review are a stark reminder of the ongoing need to address issues of discrimination and bias within law enforcement agencies, and to work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society for all.
“Are you a giver or a taker”
According to the 363-page report, the police force also showed evidence of “deep-seated homophobia,” as well as widespread racism and bullying. The report revealed that nearly one in five lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees had experienced homophobia, and 30% of LGBTQ+ employees reported being bullied. Trust, confidence, and fairness scores among LGBTQ+ Londoners have also significantly decreased.
During the review, an openly gay officer reported that his colleagues continually asked him inappropriate questions about his sex life, such as whether he was a “giver or a taker,” both in briefings and around the police station. He also stated that the response team would collectively groan when an “LGBT matter” came through on the radio.
While he knew that acquiescing was not the right thing to do, he remained silent for the sake of his own mental health and career. He questioned how the police force could provide Londoners with the service they deserve if they couldn’t treat their colleagues with respect and compassion in one of the world’s most diverse cities.
Another openly gay female officer also reported witnessing racism and experiencing both misogyny and homophobia. For instance, a male officer told her that his “balls were cold” during a night shift, asking her to “warm them up.”
Jokes on Whatsapp
In the report, an openly gay male officer, referred to as ‘E,’ revealed that he is frightened of the police after being subjected to a prolonged campaign of homophobia from within the Metropolitan Police force. The review disclosed that E had seen evidence of WhatsApp groups among serving officers that joked about stopping and searching him off-duty while using homophobic language.
E reported that when he raised his treatment with the Met, they brushed off his experience. According to Casey, the report’s author, there is a culture of denial in the force, which has allowed predatory and unacceptable behavior to thrive.
Trust has hit Rock bottom
According to Casey, public trust in the Metropolitan Police has hit rock bottom. The number of Londoners who lack confidence in the force now exceeds those who do, and black Londoners have had lower trust levels for years.
Despite efforts to eradicate institutional racism, the Met has yet to rid itself of the problem, and public consent has been lost. The force has also become disconnected from the principles of policing by consent outlined when it was first established by Sir Robert Peel.
Moreover, the review found that black officers were 81% more likely to be subject to the misconduct system than their white colleagues. The report stated that complaints were often turned against officers from ethnic minority backgrounds.
LGBT+ Hate crime continues to rise
Like in many other countries, hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community are a problem in the UK. According to a report by the Home Office, there were over 14,000 hate crime offenses related to sexual orientation in 2019-2020, which represents a 19% increase from the previous year. These offenses range from verbal and physical abuse to more violent attacks and murder.
In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community in the UK, including the murder of Ian Baynham in 2009, the stabbing of two women on a bus in 2019, and the murder of three men in a terror attack in a park in Reading in 2020. The rise in hate crimes has led to calls for better protection and support for the LGBTQ+ community in the UK.