London Mayor Sadiq Khan says he has put Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida “on notice” after evidence emerged of sexist, racist and homophobic behaviour among a group of officers.
Mr Khan had met Dame Cressida about revelations and they spoke for “well over 90 minutes”.
He said the Met “needs to urgently show it has an effective plan for restoring the trust and confidence of Londoners in the police and to drive out the culture of racism, homophobia, bullying and misogyny which clearly still exists within its ranks”.
The mayor does not have the power to appoint or dismiss Met commissioners – that is done by Home Secretary Priti Patel – but he would be consulted.
‘Failure of leadership’
His comments came after Ms Patel told a committee of MPs that a “failure of leadership” had resulted in the offensive messages exchanged by a group of police officers.
The now-disbanded team based in Westminster, mainly at Charing Cross Police Station, sent messages on WhatsApp and Facebook as they joked about rape, domestic violence and violent racism, and used homophobic language and derogatory terms for disabled people.
In an unusual step, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) published the messages after a series of nine investigations into the behaviour of the police officers between 2016 and 2018.
Messages incident ‘not isolated’
Ms Patel told the Commons Home Affairs committee on Wednesday the problem was not isolated and there had been “too many instances where, in policing, we just see the most appalling behaviours”.
Asked by committee chairwoman Diana Johnson if she thinks police forces are “institutionally misogynistic”, Ms Patel said: “There are problems with the culture, and some aspects of the culture, within the Metropolitan Police.
“I do think there are some very, very serious and significant matters that need, not just following up, but further investigation.
“We’re not seeing one-off incidences. I think we should just be quite clear about that.
“We have seen now too, too many times, too many instances where, in policing, we just see the most appalling behaviours, the most appalling conduct.
“I also think it shows a failure of leadership in some quarters.
“So you’ve asked me the question about institutional misogyny within policing. There are cultural issues there.
“What we saw in the IOPC report absolutely points to, I’m not even going to say just misogynistic behaviours, I think it’s cultural and attitudinal.”
The Home Secretary said “change is required” but insisted she has confidence in Met Police boss Dame Cressida Dick.
Two inquiries are underway looking at the Met’s culture. One, organised by the force, is being led by Baroness Casey while a Home Office inquiry led by Dame Elish Angiolini is looking at the failures behind the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer.
The investigations into the group of officers who sent the messages was sparked by a later disproven claim an officer had sex with a drunk person at a police station.
Fourteen officers were investigated, with two found to have a case to answer for gross misconduct – one was sacked and another resigned.
Nine are still officers and another is working as a contractor in a staff role.