Oct 3, 2021 - World

U.K. police accused of misogyny problem after Sarah Everard murder

Protestors demonstrate outside Scotland Yard over the treatment of people by police at a March vigil for Sarah Everard  in London, England.

Protesters demonstrate outside Scotland Yard over the treatment of people by police at a March vigil for Sarah Everard in London. Photo: Guy Smallman/Getty images

The kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a London police officer bring to the fore a "culture of misogyny" in British police forces, activists and policing experts say, per CNN.

Context: A police watchdog is investigating five serving officers and one former officer from London's Metropolitan Police for their alleged involvement in "misogynistic, racist and homophobic" WhatsApp group messages with Everard's killer, the Independent notes.

A woman is arrested at a peaceful vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common in South London in March London, England.
A woman is arrested at a vigil for Sarah Everard in March in London. Male officers were accused of"grabbing and manhandling" women during the arrests, which they said were to enforce pandemic laws. Photo: Kristian Buus/In Pictures via Getty Images
  • The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is also investigating allegations that the Metropolitan Police failed to properly examine reports of Wayne Couzens allegedly exposing himself to other women days before he killed Everard, London's Evening Standard reports.
  • It's also investigating Kent Police for another indecent exposure event that Couzens, who was sentenced Thursday to life in prison, was accused of in 2015, according to the Standard.
  • And it's investigating reports that Couzens was referred to by colleagues as "the rapist" for the way he made women feel uncomfortable, iNews notes.

Meanwhile, North Yorkshire Police Commissioner Philip Allott sparked calls to resign after he told the BBC on Friday that women "need to be streetwise about when they can be arrested and when they can't be arrested, adding that Everard "should never have been arrested and submitted to that."

  • He later apologized for being "insensitive" and said he wished to retract his statement.

The big picture: "At least 16 serving or former police officers have killed women" in the past 13 years, notes the Femicide Census, an organization that collects data on women killed by men.

  • "Police officers and staff across the U.K. were reported for alleged domestic abuse almost 700 times in the three years up to April 2018," per the Bureau of Investigative Journalism investigation.
  • Russell Findlay, a member of Scottish Parliament, alleges in the Sunday Times that "misogynistic bullying, sex discrimination and sexual predators are as much a problem in Police Scotland’s ranks as the Met's, with the important caveat of the majority of officers being diligent and decent."

What they're saying: Brian Paddick, who served as deputy assistant commissioner in London's police, told the BBC "a series" of recent allegations "about inappropriate behavior by Metropolitan Police officers" points to "a sign of a wider cultural problem" and "widespread sexism within the force."

  • Zoe Billingham, who formerly served with an agency responsible for the inspection of police forces in the U.K., told Sky News: 'We need to stamp out in policing these misogynistic attitudes."

For the record: Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick, who's faced calls to resign over the fallout from the Everard case, apologized following Couzens' sentencing and acknowledged that trust in police "has been damaged."

  • She said after Everard's killer pleaded guilty last month: "I have 44,000 people working in the Met. Sadly, some of them are abused at home, for example, and sadly, on occasion, I have a bad 'un."
  • Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said discrimination "of any kind is deplorable and unacceptable" and that progress had been made, but there's "work to do," according to the Courier.
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