A London police watchdog documented patterns of bullying, discrimination and harassment among officers in a 15-page report published Tuesday.
The report conducted by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which primarily focuses on officers based at Charing Cross Police Station in the central London area, noted “multiple concerning behavioural themes,” including sexism, toxic masculinity, sexual harassment, aggressive behavior, bullying, discrimination and “banter” being used as an excuse to justify offensive behavior.
The specific team at Charing Cross where these behaviors were first identified has been disbanded, but the report notes that the behaviors are not isolated to one group of officers or a direct result of a few “bad apples.”
The IOPC’s investigation, known as Operation Hotton, discovered text messages between officers that included homophobic language, mocked non-Christian religions and were offensive toward disabled people, Black people and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The text messages spelled out in the report include, “Just walked past the big mosque all the fanatics turn up at to radicalise the young muslims,” “My dad kidnapped some African children and used them to make dog food,” and “PWPEHCLM – People with pre-existing heart conditions lives matter. Should of offered him a kit kat and a nice lie down. Murdering c****.” One police officer was also referred to as “mcrapey raperson” in a WhatsApp group, according to the report.
“Given the diverse communities served by the MPS, communications of this nature are deeply concerning as they may reflect officers’ attitudes and their ability to police communities sensitively and impartially,” the report says. “The seriousness and frequency of such comments that went unchallenged suggested a systemic cultural issue that allowed the behaviour to pervade and persist.”
The IOPC also detailed numerous text exchanges that featured language describing domestic violence against their partners and rape jokes. Officers who did not participate in these exchanges and did not agree with these views were intimidated from speaking up, according to the report.
“I am angry and disappointed to see officers involved in sharing sexist, racist and discriminatory messages,” Metropolitan Police Service Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid said in a statement. “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.”
Javid added that “a number of officers” have already undergone misconduct proceedings, including one who has been dismissed, and that every employee has been instructed about responsible social media use.
“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,” Javid said.
The report follows an increased spotlight on London’s police force after one of its officers was convicted of raping and murdering 33-year-old Sarah Everard last year.