Former Met officer wants ‘toxic culture of sexism’ exposed through assessment

There’s a toxic ‘boy culture’ in Britain’s largest police force and the job appeals to power-chasing bullies, a former Met officer said.

Alice Vinten, who served in the police force for 10 years, believes that the police can only change if the bosses admit that it attracts more “mistakes” than other professions.

A damning report is expected this week accusing the Metropolitan Police of racism, sexism and homophobia, and failing to change despite repeated warnings to do so.

Baroness Casey will soon publish her review of the culture and norms in the force, commissioned following the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer.

Ms Vinten said that while the focus was on the Met, she believes the same problems exist across the police force.

“I hope the toxic culture of sexism within the Met will be exposed for the reality that it is, the fact that ‘boy culture’ still exists,” she told the PA news agency.

“The fact that women often do not feel supported by their male colleagues, especially if they do have to file a complaint about a male colleague, is something that men often do not support.

“The reality is that there is still a stigma attached to reporting ‘one of your own’ and this needs to be turned on its head – officers should be praised for reporting dangerous or corrupt officers, not banned for it.

“I don’t think these issues are specific to the Met, I think these things are in every force in the UK.

“Since the murder of Sarah Everard, the main focus has been on the Met, but if we gave the same level of scrutiny to every UK police force, we would find exactly the same problems: sexist jokes, unacceptable WhatsApp discussions, harassment of female officers and men. use their power to access vulnerable women.”

The police officer turned author wants to see measures including a unit of female detectives to investigate allegations of sex crimes committed by female officers and staff, and a system where two people screen applicants separately.

She said police must also accept that police work attracts power-hungry bullies.

“They have to admit that power attracts bullies and offenders, and that the police force as a whole attracts more ‘thugs’ than other professions,” Ms Vinten said.

“They have to admit that they are a profession that is targeted by bad people, who want to abuse their power.

“Until they do this and deploy enthusiastic officers/civilian personnel to weed out the bad cops, nothing will change.”

Attorney Harriet Wistrich, director of the Center for Women’s Justice, says officers who turn a blind eye to wrongdoing should be punished, as should the perpetrators themselves.

She told PA: “It is clear from everything we have seen over the past few years that the Met has allowed a culture of misogyny, racism and homophobia to fester unchallenged within the organization.

“The failure to address and sweep these issues under the rug has led to the most horrific results in cases like (Wayne) Couzens and (David) Carrick, which fundamentally undermine trust in the police.

“One of the most important issues I think is the culture of loyalty that punishes those who whistleblower and rewards those who collude – this needs to be fundamentally reformed.

“Those who conspire or fail to expose open misogyny and racism must be held accountable, as must the perpetrators.”

Amid reports in the Guardian that Baroness Casey’s review will be “horrific” for the Met, police have said it will not comment until fully published.

The Met has been torn between a series of scandals in recent years, including the case of Wayne Couzens, the serving officer who will die in prison for the murder of Miss Everard, and David Carrick, who was exposed as one of the most prolific sex offenders of the UK.

Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said she hopes the review will look at how police forces and culture enable officers and staff to commit crimes involving violence against women and girls.

“Given the long history of misogyny and racism at the Met, from revelations of undercover policing dating back to the 1980s to the findings of the Macpherson report, and numerous police inspector reports, we would like this review to finally be clear makes the culture and functioning of the institution need to change, and urgently,” she said.

“The report’s findings are likely to point to issues we’ve known about for a long time, so we expect to hear in concrete terms how it can drive action that will result in meaningful transformation.”

Rape Crisis England and Wales chief executive Jayne Butler hopes the review will focus on “transparency, accountability and culture change”.

She said: “There is clearly a need for a radical cultural transformation to restore public trust in the police.

“We want a zero-tolerance approach to officers who have allegations against them for sexual or domestic violence crimes, and proper vetting processes to weed out those who hold sexist, racist and misogynistic views.

“It is critical that the Met can outline a clear definition of gross misconduct and that it be applied consistently.

“It is also crucial to describe in detail how professional standards are made more robust, and how they are maintained and where necessary developed.”

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