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


A toxic “boy culture” exists in Britain’s largest police force and the job attracts bullies seeking power, a former Met officer has said.

Alice Vinten, who served in the police force for 10 years, believes the police service can only change if bosses admit it attracts more ‘wrong people’ than other professions.

A scathing report is expected this week accusing the Metropolitan Police of racism, sexism and homophobia despite repeated warnings not to change.

Baroness Casey will release her assessment of the culture and standards in the force commissioned by an acting officer following the murder of Sarah Everard.

Ms Vinten said that although the focus was on the Met, she believes the same issues exist across the police service.

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

“The fact that women often do not feel supported by their male colleagues, especially when they have to complain about a male colleague, men do not often stand behind them.

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

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

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

The police officer-turned-author wants measures including a unit of female detectives to investigate allegations of sexual offenses by female officers and staff, and a system whereby two people screen job applicants separately.

She said the force must also accept that policing attracts power-hungry bullies.

“You have to admit that power attracts bullies and the police service as a whole attracts more ‘fake’ people than other professions,” Ms Vinten said.

“You have to admit that they are a profession under attack by evil people who want to abuse their power.

“Until they do this and use enthusiastic officials/civilian personnel to root 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 must be punished just like the perpetrators themselves.

She told the PA: “It is clear from everything we’ve seen over the last few years that the Met has allowed a culture of misogyny, racism and homophobia to run unchallenged within the organisation.

“Failure to address these issues and sweep them under the rug has led to the most horrifying results in cases like (Wayne) Couzens and (David) Carrick, fundamentally undermining trust in the police.

“One of the key issues, I think, is the culture of loyalty, which punishes whistleblowers and rewards accomplices – that needs fundamental reform.

“Those who collude or fail to speak up and challenge blatant misogyny and racism should be held accountable, as should the perpetrators.”

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

The Met has vacillated between a series of scandals in recent years, including the case of Wayne Couzens, the acting officer who is set to die in prison for the murder of Miss Everard, and David Carrick, who is considered one of the most prolific sex offenders Britain was exposed.

Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said she hopes the review will examine how police powers 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 Inspectorate reports, we look forward to this review finally going home, the culture and workings of the institution need to change, and urgently,” she said.

“The report’s findings are likely to point to issues that we have long known about, so we look forward to hearing specifically how he can drive action that leads to 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 shift to restore public confidence in policing.

“We want a zero-tolerance approach to officers faced with allegations of sexual or domestic violence and proper review procedures to root out those who hold sexist, racist and misogynistic views.

“It is critical that the Met can clearly articulate a definition of gross misconduct and that it is consistently applied.

“It is also important to detail how professional standards will be made more robust and how these will be enforced and further developed where necessary.” Former Met officer wants ‘toxic culture of sexism’ exposed through scrutiny

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