London’s Met Police Misconduct: the workplace from hell?
Americans (like me) can’t help but love the British police. They politely offer directions, they wear funny hats, they…don’t carry guns. How delightful!
Of late though I find myself feeling rather disillusioned, and I don’t think I’m alone. Since the horrific murder of Sarah Everard last year, the spotlight has been glaring onto an institutional culture of Met police misconduct and violent misogyny. It seems every few days there is a new revelation of ‘police officer sexually assaults’ and / or corruption and / or just plain creepiness – akin to turning over a rotting log and watching a thousand cockroaches scatter. The bobbies ain’t looking so cute anymore.
The primary concern has, perhaps, rightly been for the public at large, and the capacity of this fundamentally flawed organisation to keep us all safe. But spare a thought for the women (and anyone else who isn’t an able-bodied heterosexual white man) who have to navigate this cesspit every day just doing their jobs. Recently, the Times reported the story of Andrea, a former Met constable whose inspector sexually assaulted her. Andrea was forced to make a complaint when a colleague she confided in reported the incident. Thereafter followed thirty months of trying to convince anyone with power to believe her, a brutal investigation focused more on tarnishing her otherwise impeccable reputation, and a suicide attempt until she was finally dismissed for “discreditable conduct” in 2020. Meanwhile her assailant kept his job.
If only this was an isolated incident. An investigation sparked by a police officer who allegedly had sex with a drunk person in Charing Cross police station has turned up a morass of bullying, harassment, and a rainbow of -isms traded on WhatsApp messages amongst officers. One officer wrote to a female colleague that “I would happily rape you…chloroform you…if I was single.” Police officers were reported to have sex with prostitutes they arrested. Anyone who didn’t like the Met police misconduct was told to “play the game”, stay quiet or leave.
Ultimately, it comes down to a complete lack of accountability. When officers are too scared to report serious misconduct, when wrongdoers can be sure their pals will block any investigation, and when you’re a psychopath with a proclivity for violence anyway, well, why not act like it?
Perhaps even more depressing is that this is all happening at a time when the first woman and the first openly homosexual Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, had been at the helm for five years. Dick recently announced she would be stepping down as Commissioner in light of multiple ongoing controversies. That old adage rings true: there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.
This blog was written by Kendal Youngblood, Solicitor at didlaw.