The Metropolitan Police have come under fire for a lot lately.
Its controversial advice to women on staying safe by waving down a bus or calling 999 if they’re in danger, and an attempt to distance the force from Sarah Everard’s murderer were only the start. Now, days after Everard’s killer was sentenced to life in prison, PC David Carrick has been accused of raping a woman he met on Tinder. Carrick “emphatically denies” the charges.
Women’s rights campaigners are “tired”, “saddened”, and “not surprised” at the misogyny that exists in places of power.
“It’s ridiculous that it’s taken such horrific things to happen for these things to come to light,” says activist Eliza Hatch. “It shows the true nature of the culture of the police force – an environment in which sexual violence is just completely normalised.”
Hatch runs a photo campaign called Cheer Up Luv that highlights everyday sexism and aims to tackle sexual harassment.
She says after the murder of Sarah Everard, the police were in a “rush” to look at problems that have been around for “decades”.
“There’s this culture of normalised misogyny that we have in our society. There’s also a culture of victim blaming that goes with that.”
And she’s not the only one critical of the police.
You can't reform this.
The institutionally misogynistic Police covers up for rapists, misogynists and harassers of women in police uniform.
This is not news to them. #CressidaMustGohttps://t.co/5AEAxno0o4
— Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (@SholaMos1) October 3, 2021
serving officers just raping and killing women for vibes but it’s me who should flag down a bus or leg it and dial 999 kmt https://t.co/rdhZESR68F
— shakeena (@iamshakeena) October 3, 2021
Hatch believes there’s a “tired narrative” going on that needs to be addressed for us to move forward.
“The Met’s response to these incidents was how can women and marginalised genders restrict their behaviour. How can they avoid being raped and kidnapped. The onus is never on the perpetrator, never on the person who’s actually committing the crime to do anything to change that.”
Carrick worked in the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command. He was arrested on October 2 and suspended by the Met the same day. He was off-duty at the time of the incident.
The policing system is just completely rotten to the core and entirely misogynistic. There's a culture of normalisation of sexual violence happening within the police force.Eliza Hatch, founder of Cheer Up Luv
Hatch wants to see an independent inquiry into the police force and better steps being taken next.
“There needs to be a better vetting process for officers entering the police force and there should be consistent checks for people who are serving as police officers. It shouldn’t be once you’re in you’re in. These things should constantly be under review.”
Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, admitted that incidents of sexism still exist in the Met and announced that an independent review will take place.
“We will have an independent person come in and review the Met in terms of its standards, and in terms of its culture, how we treat each other, and how we treat the public.
“I’m determined that all elements of sexism are rooted out and that we display the highest possible professional standards and behaviours to each other and to the public.”
The report will be published publicly once completed.
Hatch wants behaviours like misogynistic group chats, indecent exposures, and everyday sexism to be investigated and taken seriously more widely.
“It’s not just in the police force, it’s something that filters into the the framework of our culture and society.”
“Nobody thinks that somebody who’s catcalling them on the street or shouting at them from a moving vehicle is in any way linked to the horrific rape and kidnap of someone but we’ve got to start connecting those dots because ultimately it’s the same system that allows for those things to happen in the first place.”
Claire Barnett, executive director of UN Women UK says the charges against David Carrick are part of a “much wider structural issue” and that a change in our society is “long overdue”.
Data collected by UN Women UK suggests over 70% of women in the UK have experienced sexual harassment in public.
“We need justice, protection for survivors, and practical measures to stop abuse on our streets and in our schools. And we ask anyone who agrees with this and is looking for support to call out malpractice and put measures in place to reach out to us and commit to doing more.”
Hatch hopes this momentum will bring about change.
“I just hope that it is a wake up call to the government and it’s a wake up call to the public as well that we should scrutinise, question and challenge the people who are supposed to be keeping us safe.”
Help and support:
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.