The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has today (1st February 2022) released findings from its Operation Hotton investigations into the misconduct of several Met Police officers.
Operation Hotton consisted of nine separate investigations into the conduct of serving police officers from the force. Most held the rank of police constable and were based at Charing Cross Police Station.
This report is a shocking indictment of police culture. It shines a light on the institutional misogyny and racism that create an environment in which police officers can freely discuss and make light of raping colleagues and partners, physical violence against women and engaging in coercive and manipulative behaviour with women they come into contact with in their position of power. In addition, the report sheds light on the normalisation of discriminatory and misogynistic, racist, and homophobic language used by serving officers.
Details of the officers’ misconduct range from bullying to sexual harassment, misogynistic and discriminatory language used by officers, and an allegation of what is described as ‘sex’ with a member of the public who was in the police station while drunk.
All of the investigations that the IOPC was able to report on resulted in proven misconduct and gross misconduct, and one officer found guilty of “improper use of public electronic communications network” under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. However the strand 6 investigation was discontinued and details of the investigation and its outcome were not included due to their “sensitive nature”.
In a recent YouGov poll we found that 47% of women and 40% of men had less trust in the police following the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens. The data also found that 76% of women and 71% of all adults polled think the culture of policing has to change in order to better respond to violence against women and girls.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition has spent years campaigning for scrutiny, accountability and leadership within the police and this report illustrates yet again how far there is to go.
Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) said:
“While the behaviour and language exposed in the report is shocking, it is not surprising. Cultures of racism and misogyny have long been a systemic issue within our police forces.
Following the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met Police officer and the Black Lives Matter movement against racist police violence, we’re now seeing these deeply rooted issues in policing brought into sharp focus, as public awareness and outrage reaches a tipping point.
The leadership of the Met has been keen to distance the force from the actions of Wayne Couzens – calling him a “bad apple” that is not representative of the force as a whole. But this report, which references another officer called “Mcrapey Raperson”, makes it hard to not see Couzens as in part the product of an environment that allowed his misogyny to fester and grow.
We cannot keep having the same conversations about rebuilding trust and confidence in the police without seeing plans that will actually deliver accountability, transparency and a radical overhaul of the whole system, root and branch. These are not isolated incidents – these are systemic issues that must be matched by a response that reflects the gravity of the problem.
We will not accept superficial, piecemeal reforms that do nothing to challenge or change the systemic cultures of racism and misogyny that enable police officers to perpetrate harm and face little meaningful consequence.”
 A note on terminology – the report refers to sex but given that this women was perhaps unable to consent due to being under the influence of alcohol, and the abuse of power likely at play given the inherent power imbalance between an on duty male police officer and a female member of the public, we question this term and this language.
Sinead Geoghegan, Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org 07960 744 502