Sarah Everard murder: ‘Misogyny and widespread sexism’ within the Met

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Brian Paddick
Brian Paddick

There is “widespread sexism” within the Metropolitan Police and misogynistic attitudes must be stamped out, policing experts said on Friday.

Liberal Democrat Lord Paddick, who was a deputy assistant commissioner in the force, said there needs to be a “cultural change”, particularly in the Met, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “There’s been a series of allegations recently in the Metropolitan Police about inappropriate behaviour by Metropolitan Police officers, and for me that’s a sign of a wider cultural problem.

“I wouldn’t go so far as to call it institutional misogyny, but I would describe it as widespread sexism within the force, and we need police leaders to acknowledge prejudice within the police service, and who are prepared to do something about it.”

Her Majesty’s former inspector of police Zoe Billingham told Sky News: “We need to stamp out in policing these misogynistic attitudes. This sense that its alright to join into banter which is making fun of women, demeaning women, subverting women away from their principle activities.

“We know that within policing there has been an awful lot of work done...to challenge some of these attitudes. This is not just about supporting male officers and female officers who speak out against this, this is actively encouraging this to happen.”

It comes as Dame Cressida Dick and Scotland Yard faced more criticism on Friday amid claims that an “extraordinary story of blunders” enabled Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens to become a Met police officer - and a tolerance of misogyny by some officers may have meant warning signs from Couzens were not flagged.

It emerged that Couzens shared offensive material on a WhatsApp group with five serving officers, including three from the Met, months before he killed Ms Everard.

The IOPC said two of the Met officers and a former Met officer were being criminally investigated for sending grossly offensive material between March and October 2019.

Lord Paddick said police officers in the Met are “concerned that things may be going backwards rather than forwards”.

He added: Lord Paddick said: “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.

“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.”

et Police Commissioner Cressida Dick apologised to the public in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard, saying the PC responsible had “brought shame” on her police force.

Speaking outside the Old Bailey after Wayne Couzens was jailed for the rest of his life, the Scotland Yard chief said she understood the murder has eroded public faith in her officers.

“I am absolutely horrified that this man used his position of trust to deceive and coerce Sarah, and I know you all are too”, she said.“His actions were a grave betrayal of everything policing stands for.”

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