A leading police officer has warned that racism and distasteful jokes have been “taken out of canteens and put on WhatsApp” within the Metropolitan Police.
Andy George, president of the National Black Police Association, said racism had not gone away in the past 20 years but has instead been moved to “WhatsApp groups and anonymous police social media accounts”.
His comments come as a court heard that police officers shared messages about rape and domestic violence in a WhatsApp group including Wayne Couzens before he killed Sarah Everard - the officers involved pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Couzens, a former parliamentary and diplomatic protection officer, was jailed for life last year for the kidnap, rape and murder of Miss Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive.
Speaking to the Independent, Mr George said these problematic exchanges reflect a “systemic” cultural problem within the police.
“How many times can we say it’s a few bad apples, we’ve dealt with them, things are great? There’s a wholesale systemic issue with culture,” he said.
Mr George added: “That attitude just shows that in the last 20-plus years all we’ve done with racism is pushed it underground.
“We’ve taken it out of canteens, out of mainstream documents and put it on WhatsApp groups and anonymous police social media accounts.
“We’ve made it something that you can’t say in the open anymore, but that people still obviously think and feel is acceptable - that’s the worrying bit.”
He warned: “How widespread those WhatsApp groups seem to be and what is said on them shows that we have a culture that normalises racism, misogyny and other discriminatory behaviours.”