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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.