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Misogyny and Sexual Violence in UK Police Force

If you are currently in the UK, it’s impossible to ignore headlines about David Carrick, the Met Police Officer who pleaded guilty to 49 charges of rape, sexual assault, controlling and coercive behaviour and false imprisonment relating to 12 victims that span two decades. Two weeks ago, news broke that a Met police officer assigned as a ‘Safer Schools Officer’ posted at a school in North London plead guilty to a string of child sexual abuse offences and grooming young girls. Just hours after, Commissioner Mark Rowley admitted that two to three Met police officers will appear in court every week, including more charged with sexual offences and domestic abuse. Yesterday, HM inspector of constabulary Matt Parr said that a review of hiring practices carried out by his team revealed that one in 10 officers should never have been hired, this "adds up to hundreds of people who have joined the police force in the last three years that we don't think should have", he said.

The news that the Metropolitan Police have been employing, promoting, and, in their failure to overlook nine previous reports, facilitating one of the UK’s worst sex offenders is hideous, but unfortunately not surprising. The fact that Carrick is in good company - 800 officers are currently being investigated for over 1,000 sexual and domestic abuse claims - is also not surprising. It is symptomatic of longstanding reports of a culture of misogyny and racism in Britain’s police force and reflected in the fact that out of the 70,000 rapes reported in England and Wales last year, 1.3% resulted in a suspect being charged and less than 1% in a conviction. With this in mind, the latest reports feel horribly familiar. In the past two years alone, leaked Whatsapp messages between officers at Charing Cross Police Station saw colleagues joking about race and abuse, two Met police officers were jailed in December 2021 for taking selfies with the bodies of the two murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, and Sarah Everard was murdered in March 2021 at the hands of a police officer. Sarah's death prompted a wave of protests across the country and the launch of a (failed) action plan by the Metropolitan police aimed at regaining public trust, only for it to be revealed that at least 15 officers have been convicted of crimes since her murder. The Met Police are at a crisis point and public faith in the police is at an all time low.

We’re particularly concerned about the heightened vulnerability of those currently experiencing, or who will experience, abuse, assault, rape and other forms of violence who no longer feel safe reporting to the police. We support calls for a radical transformation of a system that is ‘diseased’ - but this kind of change takes time, and what will happen to victims of crime in the meantime? Urgent, collective action is required to ensure that victims and survivors of domestic abuse, harassment and sexual violence are not further isolated or discouraged from seeking support.

It may be that more people turn to informal methods of reporting. Pressure on businesses and private sector institutions to do more to tackle the issue of VAWG and abuse is not new. In 2019, TripAdvisor came under fire for how they handled reports of rape and assault in hotels promoted on their site and, after an investigation, found that over 1,000 people had left reviews that reported incidents of sexual assault in the year prior. After an online petition gained over 693,000 signatures, the company introduced additional safety measures focused on making it easier for users to report sexual assault incidents anonymously and better equipped their staff to work with survivors who reach out to the company. Both the COVID-19 pandemic and the current cost of living crisis have sparked concerns about levels and severity of domestic abuse and prompted many, such as MP Jess Phillips, to call upon businesses to do more to protect and support employees experiencing abuse.

Urgent reform of the police force nationwide, not just the met, is critical to regain public trust and confidence. However, we also want to encourage businesses to ensure they have adequate steps and policies in place internally to support survivors of assault and abuse should they make a disclosure to their employer. This could be flexible working options, access to counselling, support with reporting incidents, or implementing safety measures in the workplace. Similarly, those operating public-facing businesses such as hotels, restaurants, bars, retail stores, should be equipped to respond appropriately and sensitively to allegations of abuse that occur on their premises. When public institutions have failed survivors, community action and response is more important than ever.

Take action today:

  1. Sign the Women's Equality Party's petition to urgently initiate a statutory inquiry into misogyny in the police force.

  2. We encourage all businesses to ensure they have adequate steps in place to support victims of abuse and harassment. To find out how we can help, email us at

If you are experiencing abuse, you are not alone. There are frontline support services who can help you and provide expert guidance on how you can safely manage your individual situation.

If you are in the UK, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, for free and in confidence, 24 hours a day. Call 0808 2000 247

You can also visit Refuge's website to talk to someone online.


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