Met Police told to tackle officers’ ‘disgraceful’ behavior
The Metropolitan Police must take immediate steps to eradicate racism, to tackle bullying and to train officers on the “appropriate use of social media,” the UK police-conduct watchdog has said, in what’s been deemed a “shocking” report.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) launched ‘Operation Hotton’ in 2018 following a complaint alleging an officer had sex with a drunk person at a police station. The operation later expanded, with the watchdog saying Tuesday that “nine linked investigations found evidence of bullying and discrimination within the ranks.”
Inappropriate behavior by officers included “racism, misogyny, harassment and the exchange of offensive social media messages,” the IOPC said.
The 15-page report, which focused on a team of officers working at the capital’s Charing Cross police station, revealed “pervasive evidence” of “demeaning and intimidating” behavior, including officers being shouted-at by supervisors and women being treated as the “weary female” when trying to speak up about the behavior of male colleagues.
In a WhatsApp group with 17 members and a Facebook chat containing four, officers exchanged racist, sexist and homophobic jokes, including some about raping each other and kidnapping African children and using them to “make dog food.”
“The behaviour we uncovered was disgraceful and fell well below the standards expected of the officers involved,” IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said, noting that the teams involved had since been disbanded but admitting that “these issues are not isolated.” Naseem called the report’s findings “shocking.”
The IOPC made 15 recommendations for the Met Police to tackle inappropriate behavior in its ranks. Among other things, it was advised to conduct independent investigations, ensure the adequacy of its training on social media and to adopt measures to eradicate racism and misogyny.
Scotland Yard issued an apology for the conduct of Charing Cross Police Station officers, calling their actions “unacceptable, unprofessional, disrespectful and deeply offensive” and pledging to consider the recommendations.
Meanwhile, Met Commissioner Cressida Dick ordered “an independent and far-reaching review into our culture and standards of professional and personal behaviour,” the police force said. Several officers have already been the subject of misconduct proceedings.