TEHRAN (Iran News) –The recently long-awaited report on vast misconduct by British police sheds light on how the country’s officers are breaking the law themselves and getting away with it. These are the same British police forces who are supposedly protecting citizens from crime and supposedly enforcing the law themselves.
The report highlights how Scotland Yard deals with officers that are accused of sexual misconduct and domestic abuse while uncovering systemic failings that have allowed so many abhorrent police officers to continue serving in their jobs. It says the way the Metropolitan police (the Police service for the Greater London area and its 8.6 million residents) deals with internal misconduct is a matter of fundamental concern.
Louise Casey, a member of the UK House of Lords, says the Metropolitan police must introduce a new approach with “zero-tolerance” to misogyny and racism while creating a genuine system that will see the offending officers fired more easily. These are officers who are still on the frontline despite having committed or been accused of sexual assault, domestic abuse or racism.
Last year Casey was appointed to conduct the probe after a long series of scandals rocked the Metropolitan police, among them the murder of Sarah Everard by serving police officer Wayne Couzens. The officer took advantage of his police warrant card to handcuff and grab the innocent woman from a London street before strangling her with his belt.
Astonishingly more than half of the Metropolitan police officers that have been found guilty of sexual misconduct over a four-year period up to 2020 were allowed to keep their jobs. The British public has little trust in the police, especially those from minority groups residing in the UK. The report will no doubt expand that lack of confidence. Communities in the country’s capital, which the report focused on, are holding meetings to discuss the devastating report.
Many experts say the report only confirms what critics of the force have been saying about the police for decades. Organizers at one forum in Brixton, Lambeth in south London held to discuss the report, say that public confidence in the Metropolitan Police Service is at an all-time low.
“Such are the concerns that a range of key black national institutions and networks are coming together in an unprecedented alliance to evaluate, assess and identify the detail of the damning Baroness Louise Casey Review into the culture of the Metropolitan Police Service,” they said.
“These criticisms have been consistently expressed by myself and others at a local level here in Lambeth and across the capital,” said Lee Jasper, chair of the Alliance for Police Accountability Project Steering Group.
These criticisms “have been routinely ignored, denied or dismissed by the Met and other accountable bodies who have chosen to stay silent or who have been complicit in maintaining the status quo of a toxic culture that is highlighted in this interim report,” he added.
“To suggest that the Casey Review’s findings were ‘a surprise’ or that senior officers at Scotland Yard or here in Lambeth were ‘unaware’ of these critical issues is, in truth, wholly disingenuous and frankly insulting to our communities. These issues have been raised consistently here in Lambeth and across the capital by communities, the media and police professional bodies over the last decade.”
Jasper says, “The growing levels of genuine anger, deep anxiety and heightened concerns among London’s and Lambeth’s Black communities are the highest I have ever known in 40 years as a community advocate.”
Experts say restoring police trust and confidence among the British people is not going to be an easy task as the report notes the force must be “ruthless in rooting out those who do not deserve to hold the office of constable.”
According to the research conducted, cases where officers break the law are taking too long to resolve, allegations are more likely to be dismissed than acted upon, the burden on those raising concerns is too heavy, and there is racial disparity across the system, with White officers dealt with less harshly than Black or Asian officers.
The analysis focuses on several key aspects. Those in charge are taking too long to resolve misconduct cases. On average, the Metropolitan police takes 400 days to finalize misconduct allegations from start to finish. Even removing those involving the Independent Office for Police Conduct, cases still take, on average, nearly 350 days. Nearly 20% of misconduct cases take more than two years to finalize.
Officers and staff do not believe that action will be taken when concerns around conduct are raised. And they are right not to do so as, consistently, 55-60% of misconduct allegations made by officers, staff and their families receive a “no case to answer” decision.
This is while those at the top of the police hierarchy are warning staff against taking action against misconduct they witness or are subjected to; so that the view that nothing happens is institutionalized.
Cases that are related to sexual misconduct and other discriminatory behaviors are less likely than other misconduct allegations to result in a “case to answer” decision. These decisions are being given to only 20% of allegations concerned with breaching equality and diversity rules, and 29% of allegations involving sexual misconduct compared to 33% of all finalized allegations. The report alludes to this saying that it suggests equality and discrimination issues are not being tackled in an effective manner.
Critics have argued that evidence of “vulgar and sexist” messages on social media groups among the police have been, more than often, ignored with absolutely no action taken. A former police rapist was a member of one of those groups.
The embedded misogynistic culture is reflected in the fact that last year more than 600 sexual and domestic abuse allegations alone against officers were being investigated yet very little to zero news has emerged about those officers being held accountable. Another question that has been raised following the latest research is what to do with officers previously found guilty of racist and misogynistic offences. Critics say that more than likely, nothing will happen to them.
“In cases where they have been found guilty but it’s short of dismissal, it might be hard for the Met to go back and reset the boundaries. There’s also obviously a difference between views that might be a bit outdated and stuff that’s clearly overtly racist, sexist and offensive. There’s clearly a line,” a source familiar with the review told British media.
Last year a shocking catalogue of sexual misconduct allegations against Metropolitan police officers were revealed in documents obtained by British media. They included cases of one officer who had sexually assaulted a rape victim and another who had assaulted a domestic abuse survivor.
The latest revelations will only add to the pressure on the Metropolitan police which experts say will fail to convince the public they can efficiently protect them when they, themselves, are not enforcing the law. Women will be the most concerned about approaching officers alone, as they appear to be among the main targets of officers.
Minority groups will also be concerned as the study reveals there is racial disparity throughout the Metropolitan police’s misconduct system.
- source : Tehrantimes