‘Rampant sexism, money-grabbing & cover-ups’ rife among UK police, says former chief constable

© Reuters
A “sexist, money-grabbing” and “boys’ club” culture among senior officers plagues Britain’s police forces, according to former Northumbria Police chief Sue Sim.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, former Northumbria Police chief constable Sim complained of the barriers put in front of women inside the force, regardless of seniority.

Sim, who retired last year, came to national prominence during the manhunt for Raoul Moat, who shot a police officer after attacking his ex-girlfriend and killing her new partner in 2010.

“My biggest battle was with a culture that was sexist, money-grabbing and run by a ‘boys’ club’ of senior officers who thought they could do what they damn well wanted,” she told the Mail.

Sim recently gave evidence in an employment tribunal inquiry into the alleged sexist nature of Britain’s police forces.

“There was a core of senior officers, who had been there forever and who clearly felt they had a right to be there forever, who felt they had a God-given right to act exactly how they liked,” Sim went on.

“This meant putting their feet on the desk and reading the papers in the morning – and, believe me, they weren’t studying the crime figures. It meant playing golf in the afternoons, on work time. It meant first-class travel, private drivers, five-star hotels and huge bonuses – even when we all knew that the country was in financial crisis and thousands of their junior colleagues were being let go.

“The sense of entitlement was, and still is, shocking.”

© Northumbria Police

Drawing comparisons with old-school cop TV shows, where sexism is rife and bullying often taken for granted, she added: “I don’t think the public have any idea of the sort of attitudes that prevail in that force. It was a place of rampant sexism, cover-ups and the sort of behavior that would not be tolerated in any other workplace.

“It is not a situation that’s compatible with 21st-century policing.”

Sim’s ex-employers hit back, saying the accusations were “old and tired” and had been “exhaustively looked at by three organizations at considerable taxpayers’ expense.”

Chief Constable Steve Ashman, Sim’s successor, is said to have considered the allegations of sexism and decided there was no need for an investigation. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) agreed with him.

“Given that the Chief Constable, leading independent Counsel, the IPCC and all four staff associations are clear on the matters she raises, Northumbria Police will not act any further in relation to the allegations made by Mrs. Sim,” the force said in a statement.

Sim insisted she was “not bitter at all,” but feared for the safety of policewomen in the workplace.

“If people will be sexist towards a chief constable, then what are they going to do to victims of crime, to officers and to staff within the force? That’s why I’m doing this,” Sim told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.