A “shocking and offensive” report from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has shown that Metropolitan Police officers engaged horrific bullying and harassment, including calling each other “f**king gay” and threatening to “hate f**k” each other.
In 2018, the IOPC investigation initially “focused on teams formed to tackle crime and disorder in the Westminster area”, but was expanded when further officers came forward. It eventually expanded to nine investigations, linked to become Operation Hotton.
Investigators “reviewed thousands of messages exchanged by officers, including many which were highly sexualised, discriminatory or referred to violence”, and which were “generally described as banter by officers”.
IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: “The learning report we are publishing today is shocking and contains language which is offensive – and some may find it upsetting.
“However, we felt it was important to provide the context for the public, the Met and other forces, for why such hard hitting recommendations are necessary.”
Metropolitan Police officers dismissed homophobic, racist, misogynist and violent comments as ‘banter’
The investigation found “pervasive evidence” of bullying and harassment within the Metropolitan Police Force (MPS), “involving officers predominantly working in teams based at Charing Cross Police Station”.
The report found evidence of “demeaning and intimidating actions” towards new officers still on probation “such as beckoning them with a bell, and threats to cut their hair and belongings”, as well as other “officers being shouted at by supervisors, and women being sexually harassed or treated as a ‘weary female’ when speaking out about the behaviours of male colleagues”.
“Malicious comments were a frequent part of the bullying,” the report found, but discriminatory, sexualised or violent comments were often dismissed as “laddish banter”.
Examples of “banter” highlighted in the report included officers sending homophobic comments to each other such as “you f**king gay” and “f**k you bender”, as well as a male officer threatening to “rape”, “chloroform” and “hate f**k” a female officer.
In a WhatsApp group involving 17 police officers, messages were sent “about police officers attending a festival dressed as known sex offenders and a molested child”, as well as further comments about “rape” and “raping” each other.
Other messages included referring to Somalian people as “rats”, Black people as “robbers” and disabled people as “spastics” and “retards”.
One message from a Metropolitan Police officer read: “My dad kidnapped some African children and used them to make dog food.”
Multiple messages were discovered that bragged about domestic violence, with one officer writing: “You ever slapped your missus? It makes them love you more.
“Seriously since I did that she won’t leave me alone. Now I know why these daft c**ts are getting murdered by their spastic boyfriends.
“Knock a bird about and she will love you. Human nature. They are biologically programmed to like that s**t.”
According to the IOPC, during the investigation two officers were dismissed for gross misconduct and barred from future employment with the police, four officers attended misconduct meetings and a fifth would have done the same had they not resigned first, two officers received management action and another officer received practice requiring improvement.
The incidents described in the report are ‘not isolated or historic’, said the IOPC
IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said: “The behaviour we uncovered was disgraceful and fell well below the standards expected of the officers involved.
“While these officers predominantly worked in teams in Westminster, which have since been disbanded, we know from other recent cases that these issues are not isolated or historic.
While Naseem said he “welcomed” steps taken by the Met to address the issues of discrimination within the force, for example its its Rebuilding Trust plan that focussed on standards, culture and women’s safety, he insisted that “more is required”.
The report sent out 15 recommendations to “tackle underlying cultural issues by preventing environments from developing in which unprofessional and inappropriate behaviour can thrive and go unchallenged”.
The recommendations include for the Metropolitan Police Service to “publicly commit to being an anti-racist organisation with a zero-tolerance policy towards sexism, misogyny, bullying and harassment”.
Naseem added: “Our recommendations focus on the identified cultural issues and aim to ensure that those who work for the force feel safe with their colleagues, and that communities feel safe with those whose job is to protect them.
“The MPS has to enjoy the trust and confidence of its own officers from diverse communities before it can hope to bridge the gap in trust and confidence with the communities it serves.”