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Kill The Bill Protest In Central London, 2021
Kill The Bill Protest In Central London, 2021Photo Phil Clarke Hill/In Pictures via Getty Images

Londoners ‘no longer consent’ to being policed by the Met

Uncovering widespread racism, misogyny, and homophobia, Louise Casey’s landmark report warns that ‘public consent is broken’ – and for good reason

We already knew it, but now it’s official: the Met Police is a racist, sexist, and homophobic institution. As a result, it can “no longer presume that it has the permission of the people of London to police them” – this is the conclusion drawn in a new, landmark report, which outlines the many, many ways that the police force is failing.

Commissioned by the Met after one of its officers abducted, raped, and murdered Sarah Everard in March 2021, the 363-page report by Louise Casey is damning, to say the least. Disturbing details include a baked-in culture of misogyny and sexist violence that helped spawn the likes of Wayne Couzens, the serving officer who murdered Sarah Everard, and David Carrick, a serial rapist who remained at large for 17 years while employed by the Met.

According to the report, 12 per cent of women working within the Met say they’ve been harassed or attacked at work, with sexual assaults often covered up or played down. One third report experiencing sexism. These figures come a month after hundreds of retired officers with histories of misconduct records were asked by the Met to re-apply for their jobs. Earlier this month, a study also revealed that less than one per cent of officers are sacked for accusations of violence against women and girls.

Casey’s report also uncovers a widespread culture of bullying and discrimination, which has left frontline officers “demoralised” (the Independent Office for Police Conduct similarly detailed a “insidious, cancerous” culture on the force last year). One Muslim officer had bacon stuffed in his boots, while a Sikh officer’s beard was cut by a colleague – these are just a couple of examples of racist behaviour among many, so it’s unsurprising that the UK’s biggest police force remains disproportionately white, with officers from minority backgrounds much more likely to be disciplined or leave the force. Other bullying allegations include humiliating initiation rituals, with one associated report of sexual assault.

Unsurprisingly, the Met’s interactions with the public it’s supposed to protect are similarly dire. Its use of stop and search powers and use of force against Black people, for example, is found to be excessive by the report. Women and children have also been put at “greater risk than necessary” thanks to inadequate infrastructure and poor support for victims – while some of these issues have previously been attributed to budget cuts, the report also calls for increased transparency about where the £4 billion public institution is directing its funds.

Casey warns that these issues (and more) are responsible for a breakdown in public agreement to be policed by the Met, saying: “The Met has become disconnected from Londoners. Their consent can no longer be assumed.” In fact, in 2022 – even before some of the Met’s most recent scandals – the public’s confidence in the Met to do its job fell below 50 per cent for the first time. This is only fuelling calls to defund the police, abolish them completely, or at the very least make radical changes.

“If sufficient progress is not being made at the points of further review, more radical, structural options, such as dividing up the Met into national, specialist and London responsibilities, should be considered to ensure the service to Londoners is prioritised,” says Casey, warning that it’s currently demonstrating a “repeated unwillingness to accept and deal with institutional failures”.

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