The Casey Review final report, investigating the standards and culture of the Metropolitan Police, has published its findings, the review is damning and sets out clearly that the Metropolitan Police faces huge challenges in tackling its institutional misogyny, racism, and homophobia, and ensuring it supports all Londoners.
Supporting women and children
The report also makes it clear that the deprioritising and, in some cases, effectively decriminalising of crimes against women and children was a choice made by the police in the face of budget cuts. Women have continued to report only to be disbelieved or poorly served, they have come forward about misconduct within the force and made complaints, but the Met Police has not been prioritising them. We have been consistently highlighting that women and children are being failed and it is still harrowing to how some survivors have been treated.
Bernadette Keane, Interim CEO, Solace Women’s Aid, says;
“Day to day we have seen the impact that the deprioritising of support for victims of violence against women and girls and the removal of specialist officers has had. This report makes explicit that this was a choice, and this should be a moment of reckoning – we must ensure that the day-to-day support for women and children matches the public messaging that it is a top priority. Women coming forward to report rape and domestic abuse are so often disbelieved, traumatised, and met with inexperienced officers who are overstretched or do not see VAWG as a priority. This urgently needs to change.”
“We need violence against women and girls to be prioritised as a serious crime including when it happens behind closed doors, and for the officers investigating these cases to be specialists, receive training and to work in a supportive environment. Currently, women are not getting justice, and as London’s leading violence against women and girls’ charity we will continue to fight every day to ensure they do.”
Solace welcomes the report highlighting the need to radically reform and to have specifically trained public protection teams for rape and serious sexual offences. It is vital that the Met Police specialise its domestic abuse services to create more victim-centred approaches and to work more closely and in a more integrated way with independent domestic abuse services. Solace, and wider violence against women and girls (VAWG) services, have been calling out for this for many years.
As Baroness Casey clearly states, the tragic murder of Sarah Everard murder by a serving police officer should have been a moment of reckoning. Despite calls from women across London, this moment did not lead to the reflection and change needed to improve the Met and ensure the force ‘cleaned up its act.’ The report highlights that there has been little vigilance towards those who intend to abuse their position . It is really disheartening to see that predatory behaviour by police officers, both towards their fellow colleagues and the public, has often been left unchallenged, overlooked, and even supressed. The Met Police urgently needs to reform recruitment, vetting and misconduct procedures, as well as providing clear leadership.
Discrimination and racism within the force
The Metropolitan Police was first found to be institutionally racist in the Macpherson Report in 1999, and trust with Black Londoners has long been broken. Nearly 25 years later, the report outlines that little has been done to tackle discrimination within the force or to challenge why Black victims are “under protected and over policed”. None of this should still be happening and this must be a moment for change.
We see that Black and minoritised women are often less likely to be believed when reporting violence and abuse – the Casey review highlights that Black people in London were nearly twice as likely to be a recorded rape victim than white people and 66% more likely to be a reported victim of domestic abuse. The police must take an intersectional approach to support victims of abuse and work with specialist ‘by and for’ domestic abuse services to ensure victims are supported.
The report also highlights widespread bullying and discrimination faced by officers within the Met themselves with one in five lesbian, gay and bisexual Met employees have personally experienced homophobia and 30% of LGBTQ+ employees have said they had been bullied. Female officers routinely face sexism, and Black officers are much more likely to be in the misconduct system.
Bernadette Keane, concludes ‘“We urge the Metropolitan Police to accept the recommendations of the Casey Review. We are pleased to see recommendations around leadership, culture change and further transparency, and are heartened to see that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will set up a new police oversight board – women, Black and minoritised people and LGBT+ people must have a voice on this.”