Racism, misogyny and homophobia are running rampant in London’s Metropolitan Police force, an official review of the institution found, recommending that the force undergo a dramatic overhaul to address deep-seated issues that it said have been exacerbated by a culture of “defensiveness and denial.”
Casey said she had found “institutional racism, sexism and homophobia” in the Met. A “culture of denial” has prevented the force of more than 43,000 officers and staff from changing its ways, she wrote.
“The evidence is damning,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement.
The report set off a shocking, but perhaps not surprising, moment of reckoning in Britain, where the front pages of newspapers on Tuesday slammed a “BROKEN AND ROTTEN” police force, declaring the report a “damning verdict.”
Trust in policing has plummeted dramatically in recent years, with a recent survey finding over half of Londoners don’t trust the Metropolitan Police. Confidence in policing took a further hit when it was revealed in January that a serving officer had abused his position to lure and rape women over the course of nearly two decades.
The report said that the Met needs “a complete overhaul and a new approach to restore public trust and confidence and earn back consent from women, Black communities and the rest of London.”
Black residents of the city were particularly “over-policed,” the report found. “They are more likely to be stopped and searched, handcuffed, batoned and Tasered, are overrepresented in many serious crimes, and when they are victims of crime, they are less satisfied with the service they receive than other Londoners.”
More than 80 percent of Met officers are White, 71 percent are male and most don’t live within London, according to the report. “As such, the Met does not look like the majority of Londoners.” According to the 2021 Census, 54 percent of Londoners said they were White.
The Met’s cultural issues have had an impact not only on Londoners but also on officers and staff within the force, the report found. “A bullying culture underpins all this,” the report said.
More than 20 percent of Met employees reported being bullied; the rate was higher for LGBTQ officers and staff, 30 percent of whom reported being bullied. The report said that “racist, misogynist, homophobic and other discriminatory acts are tolerated, ignored, or dismissed as ‘banter.’”
Among the incidents cited in the report were a Muslim officer who found bacon shoved into his boots, a Sikh officer whose turban was put into a shoe box as a joke and a hazing ritual in which new female officers were forced to eat cheesecakes until they vomited.
Conditions were particularly harsh in a specialized firearms unit, MO19, which female officers said was known as “a men’s department.” A poster hung in an MO19 common area showed “female firearms officers carrying mops, irons and kettles instead of weapons.”
In response to the report, the head of the Met, Commissioner Mark Rowley, said the review “sparks feelings of shame and anger — but it also increases our resolve,” adding that “it must be a catalyst for police reform.” But, he said, “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.”
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Rowley did, however, take issue with Casey’s statement that she had “found institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia in the Met.” While he said he accepted her findings that racism and misogyny have permeated the force, Rowley told local news media that the term “institutional” was too political.
Suella Braverman, Britain’s home secretary — a position that includes oversight of policing — said in remarks in Parliament that “it is clear that there have been failings within the Met,” adding that reforms were needed “so that every citizen in London has total confidence in those who wear the badge.”
Casey recommended that all officers carrying firearms should be vetted again, including those in the MO19 unit and the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection unit, the latter of which she said should be disbanded and reassembled. The police officer who raped and killed Sarah Everard served in this unit.
To ensure that adequate reforms were being made, Casey called for additional reviews in two and five years. If progress is not made, she said, “more radical” options could include breaking up the Met into national, specialist and city divisions.
Rowley said in a letter to Casey that the Met would “take the time to carefully consider your recommendations.”
Khan, the mayor, said the report “simply must be a turning point, and I expect all the recommendations to be implemented quickly and in full.”
Karla Adam in London contributed to this report.