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Met Police ‘Banter’
The country’s most senior police officer and Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and first female leader Dame Cressida Dick, announced her resignation this month, saying she had “no choice but to step aside”. This came in response to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s accusation, made on television, that she had failed “ to root out the racism sexism homophobia bullying discrimination and misogyny that still exists..” in the Met.
The accusation follows revelations about the Charing Cross police station case, where officers shared racist, sexist, misogynistic and Islamaphobic messages. An inquiry (1) investigated 17 officers. Two officers were dismissed, several resigned, but several others were allowed to stay in post, and one has since been promoted; factors that generated much media attention and public outcry.
Another independent inquiry (2) into institutional corruption for concealing and denying failings in the Daniel Morgan case, previously criticised Dick for hampering the inquiry which identified an “institutionally corrupt” culture in the Met. Officers had shielded the killers involved, in a way that was reminiscent of the landmark case of Stephen Lawrence, which famously resulted in the Macpherson Report 1999, issuing an indictment of ‘institutionalised racism’ against the force.
Cressida Dick’s part in the (2005) Jean Charles de Menzies operation, in which an innocent man was killed in error by an ‘overzealous’ police force, also generated an inquiry (3). It was criticised by the media at the time and the de Menzies family who called for her to be barred from becoming head of the Police Commission.
These and other inquiries, chart a picture of the structural misogyny, racism and corruption within the police force that has emerged over the past twenty years. Recent cases of racial misogyny in relation to the Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry sisters ( 2020) and of Met misogyny in the Sarah Everard case( 2021) (4) have received extensive negative media and social media attention, signposting a decreasing public trust. The Home Secretary, Pritti Patel, wants to appoint a Met Commissioner who will adopt tougher measures. These may include the ‘stop and search’ tactics adopted controversially in Tony Blair’s 1995 tough on crime campaign, with subsequent warnings (5) that such measures produce uneven racial impact.
The IOPC has just published its own report (6) as a response to these events. It identifies ‘systemic issues’ in relation to police conduct, that engages in “highly sexualised and/or violent and discriminatory content (which is) described as ‘banter’ by police officers in their defence”. Activists set up fake police alerts in Trafalgar Square ...to frame the offence.
1 Charing Cross Inquiry February 2022: IOPC Report on Metropolitan Police Officer’s Conduct.
2 Daniel Morgan Inquiry. July 2021 https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/london-assembly/london-assemblys-current-investigations/inquiry-murder-daniel-morgan
3 Jean Charles de Menzies Inquiry : IPCC Report July 2005
4 See News item December 2021 in Legal Women
5 a) Study https://academic.oup.com/bjc/article/58/5/1212/4827589
5b) Newburn, T. ( 2007) Tough on Crime: Penal Policy in England and Wales Crime and Justice Vol. 36, No. 1, Crime, Punishment, and Politics in a Comparative Perspective (2007), pp. 425-470 (46 pages)
Published By: The University of Chicago Press
6 IOPC Recommendations published February 2022: https://www.policeconduct.gov.uk/news/iopc-recommendations-tackle-met-culture-after-investigation-uncovers-bullying-and-harassment