Female and gay police were 'told to act like straight white men', says former senior cop

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LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Former police commander Brian Paddick leaves after giving evidence at the Leveson inquiry on February 27, 2012 in London, England. The inquiry, which will take evidence from interested parties and may take a year or more to complete, comes in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that saw the closure of The News of The World newspaper.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Former Met Police senior officer Brian Paddick said officers were concerned things were going backwards, not forwards, when it comes to racism and prejudice within the force. (Getty)

Police officers in London are "concerned that things may be going backwards rather than forwards" when it comes to sexism and racism, according to a former Met Police boss. 

Lord Paddick, a former Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner, said there was too much denial around issues of inequality and injustice, prompting concerns from officers.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme: "When I was in the police, I was told it was okay to be a woman, or to be gay, or to be black, provided you behaved like a straight white man."

Watch: The five questions the police still need to answer about Wayne Couzens

He added: "We need more women leaders. But, more importantly, we need police leaders who recognise the problems with prejudice in the police service; whether it’s sexism or racism or other forms of prejudice, who are prepared to acknowledge that these problems exist, who are prepared to do something about them. At the moment, all we get is denial.

"Even now, I talk to serving police officers and they tell me – particularly in the Metropolitan Police – they are concerned that things may be going backwards rather than forwards."

Read more: ‘Absolutely terrifying’: Women react to revelation Wayne Couzens ‘falsely arrested’ Sarah Everard

The comments from Lord Paddick, who was Britain's most senior openly gay officer, come as the Met Police came under fire following the sentencing of Wayne Couzens, who murdered Sarah Everard. 

Couzens, a Met Police officer, was given a whole life sentence on Thursday after admitting the kidnap, rape and murder of the marketing executive

Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by Met Police officer Wayne Couzens. (PA)
Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by Met Police officer Wayne Couzens. (PA)

During his sentencing, it emerged that Couzens had carried out a fake arrest of Everard, handcuffing her and putting her in the back of a hire car before driving her to a secluded location where he raped and murdered her. 

Following the sentencing, the Met’s former chief superintendent advised women not to get into a car with a lone male police officer – even if they show their warrant card.

Dal Babu said: "Women will be asking the question, should I get into a car if I'm approached by a police officer who shows their warrant card?

"My advice would be no. You need to ask for a female officer to come along. You need to make sure there is another officer there."

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has faced calls for her resignation amid concerns about the force's handling of Couzens, and of the issue of violence against women. 

It has been reported that officers who worked with Couzens had in the past allegedly referred to him as "The Rapist", and that he had also previously been accused of indecent exposure on a number of occasions.

Senior Labour MP Harriet Harman was among those to call for Dick's resignation, writing to her as well as to home secretary Priti Patel.

Paddick joined the Met Police in 1976, rising through the ranks to become deputy assistant commissioner until his retirement in May 2007. 

He now sits in the House of Lords as a life peer was was the Liberal Democrat candidate for the London mayoral elections of 2008 and 2012.

Watch: Policing minister Kit Malthouse says it's 'reasonable' to call 999 to identify lone officers

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