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Women’s Equality Party calls for statutory inquiry into the Met

A call for a statutory inquiry into misogyny in all police forces, including the Metropolitan Police Force, has been made by the Women’s Equality Party (WEP). 

The WEP, a political party campaigning for women’s rights and gender equality, are demanding an independent inquiry into misogyny and a radical overhaul of the police force. 

Deputy Leader Tabitha Morton said: “The thing that we’ve seen come to light is that particularly in the Met Police, but also broadly across the country, that misogyny is baked into the force.

“The police are there to support all of us when we need help but for women in particular, how can they stop violence and support us if they don’t recognise that it’s happening in their ranks?

“The police need to root this out if we are ever going to seriously end violence against women.”

ROOT IT OUT: Deputy Leader Tabitha Morton advocates for a radical overhaul. Credit: Women’s Equality Party

The call comes after the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC), made 15 recommendations to the Met Police to change its internal culture of misogyny, sexism and homophobia. 

Operation Hotton, an investigation launched in 2018 by the police watchdog, found 14 Met officers sent highly sexualised, violent and discriminatory text and WhatsApp messages, predominantly sent by police constables based at Charing Cross Station. 

The messages joked about domestic violence, bullying, sexual harassment and rape, and were defended by officers as ‘banter’.

Morton, 45, added: “I am a firm believer that language is so important, that the continuum from joking about something and laughing along then creates this culture where people think this is acceptable.

“We as women are going to report crimes to officers who may be perpetrators of the same crimes, and they are not dealing with it seriously.”

HOTTON HOTPOINT: The majority of officers implicated by the recent investigation worked at Charing Cross. Credit: Matt Brown

Of the 14 officers investigated, two resigned, two were dismissed for gross misconduct, one is working as a contractor in a staff role and nine are still serving with the force. 

In the report, the IOPC stated: “We believe these incidents are not isolated or simply the behaviour of a few ‘bad apples’.

“An underlying culture allowed conduct issues to permeate and behavioural problems went unchallenged.”

The WEP is calling for a statutory inquiry into specifically misogyny and sexism, as opposed to ‘systemic failures’, at all 180 Met Police stations.

Last week the WEP launched a scathing ‘fake police appeal’ against the Met, littering Charing Cross with mock police signs featuring extracts of sexist and abusive messages sent by officers. 

Below, the signs read: “Are you disgusted? The Police cannot stop stop violence and discrimination if they do not recogise it in their own ranks.” 

The signs were accompanied by a pledge to make 750 calls to Priti Patel, to demand that the Home Secretary launches an inquiry into the Met. 

Morton, said: “We really wanted to get the force of what was being said out there, this is not just light sexism, this is really discriminatory, abusive language.

“If it’s just another report that goes quietly by, the risk is that someone resigns or steps down, and we won’t get the change we need.”

The watchdog report is the latest in a string of scandals for the Met police, after two officers photographed the dead bodies of murdered sisters and the murder of Sarah Everard by officer Wayne Couzens provoked a public outcry in March 2021.

Last week, amid severe criticism from the public and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Dame Cressida Dick, who has served as the first female Commissioner of the Met Police since 2017, resigned.

In a statement, Dick said: “The murder of Sarah Everard and many other awful cases recently have, I know, damaged confidence in this fantastic police service. 

“There is much to do – and I know that the Met has turned its full attention to rebuilding public trust and confidence.”

Recently, it was revealed by ITV News that Met Police have used force on thousands of women who said they were pregnant or were possibly pregnant, with tasers, pepper spray, dogs and batons.

The data obtained through Freedom of Information requests showed there were 2,556 occasions when pepper spray or force was used by Met Police on pregnant or possibly pregnant women and girls.

And on Friday, the Evening Standard reported that almost 150 officers have been accused of domestic violence against their spouses or partners in the last two years.

Of the 129 male officers and 18 female officers accused, only 8% were charged.

These investigations highlight the scale of crisis facing Dick’s successor as Met commissioner. 

Morton said: “We’re still calling for whoever comes in to understand the job at hand and root out the misogyny.

“It’s the Home Secretary’s job to assign that person, so I hope she takes a long hard look at the right person who is ready to change that culture.”

In the Met’s response to the IOPC report, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid, said: “It’s clear we have a lot of work to do to ensure bullying and discrimination does not exist in any part of the Met.

“We recognise that there is need for real change in the Met and we are committed to creating an environment that is even more intolerant to those who do not uphold the high values and standards expected of us.”

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