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World News | Commentary calls London police racist, misogynist, homophobic

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LONDON, March 21 (AP) – Police in London have lost public confidence amid entrenched racism, misogyny and homophobia, as an independent investigation revealed that a young woman was raped and killed by an active-duty officer. After the killing, the investigation was commissioned.

The Metropolitan Police, the UK’s largest police force with more than 34,000 officers, must “transform itself” or risk being disbanded, the report released on Tuesday said.

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“It’s not our job as members of the public to protect ourselves from the police. It’s the job of the police to keep us safe as a public,” said Louise Casey, a victim’s rights and social welfare expert who led the review . “Too many Londoners have now lost faith in the police doing this.”

The findings intensify pressure on the Metropolitan Police to introduce major reforms following a string of scandals involving the treatment of women and minorities. In an initial report released in October, Casey found that the department failed to properly vet and train officers and allowed officers to continue working after being accused of domestic violence or racial harassment.

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Part of the problem, the review found, was that there was a culture of denial in the department, with leaders adopting a “we know best” attitude that led them to dismiss external critics. Funding cuts, as well as decisions to close local police departments and effectively end community policing, have also contributed to the situation.

Underlying all of this, the investigation found, was how the force was managed, not its size.

“The Met operates as a set of disconnected and competing mobile parts, lacking a clear system, purpose, or strategy,” the report said. “It operates on top of a series of uncoordinated and short-lived initiatives, chronically active but lacking action.”

The March 2021 rape and murder of young marketing executive Sarah Everard by an active-duty officer on her way home from a friend’s house sparked a national outcry as women shared their Experiences of being threatened or assaulted while walking alone led to commissioning a review of Casey.

When hundreds of people gathered on Clapham Common in south London to draw attention to the violence women face every day, police broke up the rally, saying it was in breach of COVID-19 lockdown rules. Video posted on social media showed male officers grabbing several handcuffed women and pulling them away amid screaming and yelling from bystanders.

But the Everard case is just one in a string of recent scandals for the Metropolitan Police.

In December 2021, two police officers were jailed for taking and sharing photos of the dead bodies of two black women after they were assigned to guard the scene where they were killed. Another police officer was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to 48 rapes and a host of other serious crimes over a 17-year period.

The Met has also been accused of homophobia for failing to stop serial killer Stephen Porter, who killed four young men over a 15-month period in 2014 and 2015.

Detectives did not initially link the victims, all gay men in their 20s, whose bodies were found near Porter’s home in east London. They began investigating the deaths as potential homicides after the last victim’s family demanded action.

Casey’s review found that the department did not take violence against women and girls as seriously as it did other forms of violence.

The 363-page report also paints a shocking picture of how crimes against women and children are being investigated due to a lack of funding and specialized officers trained to handle the cases.

Investigators found that officers investigating the crimes were forced to store rape samples in “stuffed, worn or broken refrigerators and freezers” because they did not have access to expedited forensic services.

A lunch box in these refrigerators contaminates the evidence. Another device broke last summer, meaning the evidence was damaged and unusable in court.

“The deprioritization and deprofessionalization of public protection places women and children at unnecessarily greater risk,” the report said. “Despite some brilliant experienced senior officers, an overworked inexperienced workforce is responsible for child protection, rape and serious sex crimes.”

But the problem goes beyond the treatment of women and girls.

Twenty-four years after another investigation found institutional racism was a key factor in the Met’s failure to investigate the killing of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, Casey highlighted the fact that the department remains disproportionately white and male.

Some 17% of London’s police officers are black, Asian or mixed race, according to the latest departmental statistics, up from about 10% a decade ago. Women make up nearly 31 percent of the police force, up from nearly 25 percent in 2013.

According to the 2021 census, around 40% of London’s population is black, Asian or mixed.

The report found bullying was widespread in the sector, with one in five staff members with a protected characteristic such as race, sexual orientation or disability being victims.

“Women officials and staff routinely face sexism and misogyny,” the report said. (Associated Press)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)


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