Misogynistic and predatory behaviour remains “prevalent” among police officers, new report concludesNovember 2, 2022
The report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services revealed numerous failures in police vetting procedures.
A combination of defective vetting procedures and failures by police leaders have led to a “prevalent” culture in which “misogyny, sexism and predatory behaviour” often remains unchallenged, a damning new inspection of England and Wales’s police forces has concluded.
The report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) revealed cases in which officers had made a point of stopping cars driven by women they deemed attractive in a practice referred to as a “booty patrol”.
It also highlighted instances in which male officers made inappropriate sexual comments about female crime victims, and pursued lower-ranking female officers for sex.
The report, which was ordered following the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard in 2021 by the then-serving Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens, said there were “too many cases” in which officers shouldn’t have been allowed to join the police in the first place – including instances where officers had criminal records or links to organised crime.
As for use of vetting procedures, inconsistent handling of misconduct cases and a lack of effective monitoring of officers’ IT use were all highlighted as reasons why so many issues had been allowed to continue – in some cases even after a problem had been reported.
“It is too easy for the wrong people to both join and stay in the police,” said Matt Parr, His Majesty’s inspector of constabulary. “If the police are to rebuild public trust and protect their own female officers and staff, vetting must be much more rigorous and sexual misconduct taken more seriously.”
He continued: “Despite repeated warnings – including several from us – not enough has been done to improve standards and stamp out misogyny and predatory behaviour in policing. The police must do more to prevent unsuitable people from joining in the first place, identify any misconduct within the force, and quickly dismiss officers and staff if they are not fit to serve the public.”
Some of the recommendations put forward in the report include understanding and defining what constitutes misogynistic behaviour in the first place, and improving the quality and consistency of vetting decision-making to ensure only suitable officers are allowed to join the force.
“Given the risks involved with recruiting officers at the scale and speed required by the uplift programme, it is essential that police leaders act now on our recommendations,” Parr added. “Our report highlights that they simply cannot afford to wait any longer.”
In a statement issued to The Telegraph in response to the report, Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, said the report’s findings were “disappointing”.
“As part of its commitment to recruit 20,000 additional officers, the government has provided funding to deliver significant improvements to recruitment processes and improve infrastructure, so it is disappointing that HMICFRS have found that, even in a small number of cases, forces are taking unnecessary risks with vetting,” she said.
“It is also unacceptable that women, whether working in policing or members of the public seeking help, continue to experience misogynistic and sexist behaviour. I have been clear that culture and standards in the police need to change and the public’s trust in policing restored.”
Today’s report comes just over two weeks since another damning report into the Metropolitan police’s handling of misconduct allegations found that officers accused of serious misconduct – including cases of racism, misogyny and sexual assault – are being allowed to escape justice.
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