London police officers shared 'shocking' racist, sexist and homophobic messages, says watchdog

London police officers shared 'shocking' racist, sexist and homophobic messages, says watchdog
A damning report from Britain's Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has uncovered racism, misogyny, harassment and the exchange of offensive social media messages between London police officers.
3 min read
01 February, 2022
The discriminatory messages shared by London police officers included abuse against Muslims and disabled people [source: Getty]

London police sent each other "shocking" racist, sexist and homophobic messages, a watchdog said on Tuesday, piling pressure on the force after an officer raped and murdered a young woman. 

The messages were exchanged on WhatsApp and Facebook by a now-disbanded Westminster police unit between 2016 and 2018, said a report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

They made multiple references to sexual violence including "I would happily rape you", while in another discussion an officer said he hit his girlfriend as "It makes them love you more".

One police officer repeatedly boasted about having sex with a prostitute he met through work, while another was referred to as "mcrapey raperson" after he was rumoured to have brought a woman to a police station for sex.

The messages include the use of homophobic and racist language, including references to African children, Somalis and the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, the report said.

There were also references to so-called Muslim "fanatics" and the use of offensive terms for disabled people.

Last year's kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving London police officer rocked the country and prompted calls to address sexism and misogyny in the police.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was "utterly disgusted" by the police behaviour detailed in the report.

"It is right that the team concerned has been disbanded and the police officers found to be involved have been dismissed, disciplined or have left the police," he said.

"Anyone found to be responsible for sexism, racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, antisemitism, bullying or harassment does not deserve to wear the Met uniform and must be rooted out," Khan said, referring to the Metropolitan Police working in the London area.

Some police officers felt unable to raise concerns about the language being used because the messages also contained so-called "banter" that was a cover for bullying and harassment, the report said.

"We know from other recent cases that these issues are not isolated or historic," said IOPC regional director Sal Naseem.

The IOPC investigated 14 Metropolitan police officers, two of whom had a case to answer for gross misconduct. One of those was sacked and one resigned.

Misconduct was proven against another two, one of whom received a written warning, while another four had internal measures to improve their performance, the report said.

Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Bas Javid said he was "angry and disappointed to see officers involved in sharing sexist, racist and discriminatory messages".

"It's clear we have a lot of work to do to ensure bullying and discrimination does not exist in any part of the Met," he said.