Metropolitan police officers have been using a chat forum that contained posts insulting travellers and their community and should face misconduct meetings as a result, according to a watchdog.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found that three officers from the force and one police staff member did not make the comments but failed to challenge them.
The posts were made on the secret ‘I’ve met the Met’ Facebook page, an invite-only club which is predominately used by serving and retired Met officers.
According to the Traveller Movement charity, posts included: “I f****** hate Pikeys” and “You know when they are lying… their lips move.”
Despite the original conversation not constituting a crime, the IPCC said that the four officers had potentially breached standards of professional behaviour in relation to authority, respect and courtesy, equality and diversity, and failing to challenge inappropriate behaviour.
The IPCC finding reverses previous internal Met police disciplinary inquiries and says the four should face misconduct meetings – that cannot result in any sackings.
Yvonne MacNamara, chief executive of the Traveller Movement, welcomed the IPCC decision.
She told The Guardian: “The lack of confidence the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities have in the police can come as no surprise if this is how the police treat discriminatory comments against them.
“It is high time we saw a root and branch review of the way the police treats Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, who deserve the same quality of service and policing as any other member of our society.”
Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, added: “We support the IPCC’s recommendation that the officers at hand should be subject to misconduct meetings and we urge the Met to take this seriously.”
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The Met said they were considering the IPCC’s recommendation.
They added: “The directorate of professional standards concluded a reinvestigation on Monday 27 March into inappropriate comments made on a social media site and found that no serving MPS personnel had committed any criminal offences or breaches of professional standards.”
Six officers had already received “management action”, according to the Met.