Sikh officer’s beard trimmed against his wishes, Muslim officer’s boots stuffed with bacon: damning report mentions the failures of Met Police on multiple levels
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A damning report by Baroness Louise Casey, investigating the culture and standards of the Metropolitan Police has shed light on the organisation’s failure on multiple levels to get rid of racism and bullying.
The report mentioned that ‘the Metropolitan police is broken and rotten, suffering collapsing public trust and is guilty of institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia’.
Casey was assigned to do a thorough report into the Met’s workings after one of the officers – Wayne Couzens, kidnapped, raped and murdered 33-year-old Sarah Everard in South London last year. The 363-page review has been termed as ‘one of the most damning of a major British institution’.
Casey blamed its past leadership and said: “Public respect has fallen to a low point. Londoners who do not have confidence in the Met, outnumber those who do. These measures have been lower amongst black Londoners for years.
“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.”
Several damaging incidents were revealed, here are some of them:
Sikh officer’s beard was forcefully cut
Bullying in the police force is rampant, the report mentioned. One Sikh officer had his beard trimmed as another officer found it funny. Another Sikh officer had his turban stuffed in a shoe box.
Muslim officer left “horrified” after noticing bacon in his boots
A Muslim officer had put his boots in his locker. When he opened it, he found that bacon had been stuffed into his boots which left him “horrified”. However, he decided not to report the incident as he was fearful of retaliation from others.
Met employees experience homophobia
An openly gay, black, male officer had his belongings and uniform hidden, his locker vandalised and was mocked in front of others. Additionally, at least one in five lesbian, gay and bisexual police officers had experienced homophobia. An officer even revealed that he no longer trusted the organization he was working for.
Rape cases not investigated due to broken freezer
“The de-prioritisation and de-specialisation of public protection has put women and children at greater risk than necessary,” the report said. “Despite some outstanding experienced senior officers, an overworked inexperienced workforce polices child protection, rape and serious sexual offences.”
Baroness Louise Casey (Image by Civil Service World)
It added that the officers working on such cases have to deal with “over-stuffed, dilapidated or broken” freezers which contain essential evidence and need to wait for a long period of time to get back results.
It was also stated that during the 2022 heatwave, several pieces of evidence from victims including swabs, blood samples and underwear were destroyed after one freezer stopped working.
An anonymous officer confirmed that this meant the cases would have been dropped.
The freezers were so stuffed that three officers would be needed to close them, with another officer adding that the fridges used for storing evidence were in a “bad shape, packed and ruining evidence”.
Brutal initiation tests to feel included with the rest of the team
The junior staff was subject to humiliation through bizarre initiation tests with a female officer mentioning that bullying of junior officers was “rife” within the organisation.
An officer said that women were made to eat whole cheesecakes until they vomited. She added that she was told about how a male officer was sexually assaulted in the showers as part of his initiation. This incident was openly discussed among officers.
If an officer refused to participate in these initiation tests, they would be ostracised and assumed to “not be part of the team”.
Reports of people being urinated on in the showers were also mentioned.
Officers told to delete WhatsApp messages
After reports emerged of discriminatory WhatsApp messages shared among officers at the Charing Cross station in February 2022. An internal campaign – Not In My Met – was launched later that month.
This was done to encourage staff to speak up if they have suffered discrimination. However, in a meeting, officers were told to “look carefully” and check their WhatsApp and Facebook messages as “they’re coming for everyone now, protect yourselves”.
This message was reiterated to others in various briefings.
Adultification of black children
Before the incident involving Child Q, a black schoolgirl who was strip searched by the police at her school while on her period came to light, the treatment of children by the police was not much talked about.
The review mentioned that “adultification” where black children are treated as adults and as a threat, justifying greater use of force or intrusion – is present in the force, according to the BBC.
Former Commissioner of Metropolitan Police Dame Cressida Dick (Image by Getty Images)
Despite clear evidence of institutional racism, widespread bullying and complete disregard for victims of crimes as well as the ethnic minority staff in an organisation that still remains disproportionately white in a multicultural city like London, Sir Mark Rowley, the force’s commissioner since September, said in an interview with the BBC that he would not use the labels of institutionally racist, institutionally misogynistic and institutionally homophobic that Casey used for the biggest force in the UK.
In a statement released later by the Metropolitan Police, he admitted, “This report sparks feelings of shame and anger but it also increases our resolve.
“I am proud of those people, our officers and staff, whose passion for policing and determination to reform moved them to share their experiences with such honesty.
“This is, in many ways, their report. It must be a catalyst for police reform.
“This report needs to lead to meaningful change. If it only leads to pillory and blame of the exceptional majority of officers then only criminals will benefit.
“We need it to galvanise Londoners, the dedicated police majority and politicians to coalesce around reform and the renewal of policing by consent for the 21st century.”
He added, ““The appalling examples in this report of discrimination, the letting down of communities and victims, and the strain faced by the frontline, are unacceptable.
“We have let people down and I repeat the apology I gave in my first weeks to Londoners and our own people in the Met. I am sorry.
“I want us to be anti-racist, anti-misogynist and anti-homophobic. In fact, I want us to be anti-discrimination of all kinds.
“There are external factors – funding, governance, growing demand and resource pressures that shouldn’t sit with policing – that the report has identified. Baroness Casey is right to identify the impact these have had on our ability to police London, but there can be no excuses for us.
“The core of the problems are for policing to determinedly confront.”
This review has certainly highlighted the failures of culture and leadership in the Metropolitan Police. But, only time will tell if senior officials will stop being in denial about the sad reality of the force, and whether stark reforms are made in order to ensure that the force is safe for both the officers as well as Londoners.