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Met Police officers 'sent homophobic, sexist and racist messages'

The Independent Office for Police Conduct also found officers carried out bullying and harassing behaviour.

2022-02-02

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has found that officers in the Metropolitan Police sent offensive messages of homophobic, sexist, and racist nature.

The police watchdog looked at nine linked investigations and found evidence officers had carried out bullying and harassment.

Investigations began in 2018 after reports of an officer having sex with a drunk individual at a police station and expanded when other people came forward with allegations. The investigations concluded last September.

"These issues are not isolated" 

The IOPC's Regional Director, Sal Naseem, describes the behaviour investigators uncovered as "disgraceful" and says it "fell well below the standards expected". He clarified that most of the officers concerned worked in a Westminster force which has since been disbanded. Most of the officers were based at Charing Cross police station. 

"We know from other recent cases that these issues are not isolated or historic," he adds.  

Acknowledging the work of the Met police to tackle such problems, which includes programmes around culture and women Naseem also says, "While we welcome these steps, more is required."

Of the 'banter' that officers described their comments as, Mr Nassem says that "became a cover for bullying and harassment. Colleagues were afraid to speak out about these behaviours for fear of being ostracised, demeaned, or told to get another job."

In their learning report, where the IOPC make their recommendations there are numerous examples of offensive messages sent by officers to each other. Two examples of officers 'banter' are: "You f***ing gay!" and "F*** you b*****"

The IOPC does recognise that banter and humour can be often be used as coping mechanisms but adds that "given the reports of bullying, the volume of conduct issues, the witness accounts and accounts under caution given by police officers, it appears that too often the officers we investigated were using ‘banter’ to excuse unacceptable behaviour."

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police says: "We are deeply sorry to Londoners and everyone they have failed with their appalling conduct and acknowledge how this will damage the trust and confidence of many in the Met.

"Since this reprehensible behaviour was uncovered in 2017 we have taken a series of measures to hold those responsible to account and stamp out unacceptable behaviour."

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid adds, "We recognise that there is need for real change in the Met and we are committed to creating an environment that is even more intolerant to those who do not uphold the high values and standards expected of us."

The Attitude February issue is out now. Get your copy here