London’s Metropolitan Police force is in need of a “complete overhaul” and is institutionally homophobic, racist and sexist, an official report has said.
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Louise Casey spent a year investigating the Met after a review was commissioned in the wake of one of its officers, Wayne Couzens, abducting, raping and murdering Sarah Everard in March 2021.
She said the force is likely to have more officers like Couzens, as well as serial rapist David Carrick, who also worked for the Met.
The 363-page report also found evidence of “deep seated homophobia” in the force, as well as evidence of widespread bullying and racism.
“There is deep seated homophobia within the Met, as shown by the fact that almost one in five lesbian, gay and bisexual Met employees have personally experienced homophobia and 30% of LGBTQ+ employees have said they had been bullied,” part of it said. “Trust, confidence and fairness scores among LGBTQ+ Londoners have fallen significantly.”
One openly gay officer told the review his colleagues “were obsessed with his sex life and would continually ask inappropriate questions in briefings or around the police station”, including whether or not he was “a giver or a taker”.
He also stated that, during his time on the response team, there would be “a collective groan” when an “LGBT matter” came through on the radio.
“I know that acquiescing is the wrong thing to do but for the sake of my own mental health and my own career, I stay silent,” he continued. “London is one of the most diverse cities in the world and if we can’t treat our colleagues with respect and compassion then how on earth can we provide Londoners the police service that they deserve?”
Another officer, who is an openly gay woman, witnessed racism during her time in the force, as well as reporting experiences of misogyny and homophobia.
This included a male officer telling her his “balls were cold” when working together alone on a night shift, before asking her to “warm them up”.
“Predatory and unacceptable behaviour has been allowed to flourish”
An openly gay male officer, named ‘E’ in the report, explained that he is “scared of the police” after being the target of a “sustained campaign of homophobia from inside the Met”.
“E has seen evidence of WhatsApp groups amongst serving officers joking about trying to stop & search him off duty and using homophobic language,” the review said. “When E raised his treatment, he says the Met’s response was to brush off his experience.”
Casey said “predatory and unacceptable behaviour has been allowed to flourish” in the Met and there is a “culture of denial” in the force.
“Public respect has fallen to a low point. Londoners who do not have confidence in the Met outnumber those who do, and these measures have been lower amongst black Londoners for years,” she continued.
“The Met has yet to free itself of institutional racism. Public consent is broken. The Met has become unanchored from the Peelian principle of policing by consent set out when it was established.”
Black officers were found to be 81% more likely to be in the misconduct system than their white colleagues, with the review stating that complaints were “likely to be turned against” officers from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Met Police “has not made meaningful progress” since failing to stop serial killer Stephen Port
Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive of Stonewall, said the report’s findings are “shameful” and show that “London’s police force has not made meaningful progress” since the Met’s failures in stopping serial killer Stephen Port almost a decade ago.
“Hate crimes against our community are rising rapidly, year on year,” she added. “We feel less safe in the streets and less safe in our homes. Yet we have an ‘institutionally homophobic’ police force on the streets of London, and this is a police force that can’t even keep its own LGBTQ+ officers and staff safe from bullying and sexual harassment.”
Galop, the anti-LGBTQ+ abuse charity, criticised the review for not highlighting the experiences of transgender and non-binary people – something its CEO, Leni Morris, said is a “failure” for LGBTQ+ people in the capital.
“Casey’s review is meant to understand and highlight the discrimination within the Met against minoritised groups – and yet the report erases the existence of trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people in their entirety,” she continued.
“It does not find the Met to be institutionally transphobic – seemingly because it failed to look. From the work we do with trans victims of abuse in London, transphobia in the Met Police is even more entrenched and less addressed than homophobia.”
Hate crimes recently reach record highs in England and Wales
The damning report comes not long after recorded hate crimes reached new highs in England and Wales.
There were a total of 155,841 hate crimes recorded by police in the year ending March 2022, an increase of 26% from the previous 12 months.
It marked the largest annual rise since 2017.
Offences targeting transgender people rose by 56% from 2020/21, showing the largest proportional increase for any group with a total of 4,355 anti-trans incidents on record.
“Transgender issues have been heavily discussed on social media over the last year, which may have led to an increase in related hate crimes,” the Home Office report said.
Racist hate crimes also reached new highs, with more than 100,000 recorded in England and Wales for the first time – an increase of 19% from the previous year.