Racism, bullying, misogyny: IOPC report brands Metropolitan Police 'disgraceful'

ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger has the details on the latest scandal to engulf the Met

The police watchdog has uncovered evidence of "disgraceful" bullying, racism, misogyny and "inappropriate behaviour" within the Metropolitan Police in a damning new report.

Details of messages from WhatsApp and Facebook groups including multiple references to rape, violence against women, racist and homophobic abuse were unveiled by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) on Tuesday.

Officers used what they called "banter" as a cover for bullying, the IOPC found.

It called for an overhaul of the force after nine linked investigations found bullying, discrimination, racism, misogyny, harassment and the exchange of offensive social media messages by officers.

It made 15 recommendations, including tackling "underlying cultural issues".

Discrimination, misogyny, harassment and bullying involved officers predominantly based at Charing Cross Police Station Credit: PA

Operation Hotton began in March 2018 following an unproven allegation of an officer having sex with a drunk person at Charing Cross Police Station.

It uncovered messages between officers joking about rape, domestic violence and derogatory terms about people with disabilities between officers based in a now disbanded Westminster team between 2016 and 2018.

Offensive messages that officers often defended as "banter" discussed included references to African children, Somali people and Auschwitz, the IPOC found.

WhatsApp and Facebook group messages included multiple references to sexual violence including, "I would happily rape you".

One officer bragged that he had hit his girlfriend, and told a colleague: "It makes them love you more".

Home Secretary Priti Patel called the officers "sickening" and told bosses at the force "standards must be raised" in the wake of the report.

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said the issues in the Met "are not isolated or historic" and described the content of its learning report as "shocking".

"Our recommendations focus on the identified cultural issues and aim to ensure that those who work for the force feel safe with their colleagues and that communities feel safe with those whose job is to protect them," Naseem said.

"The MPS has to enjoy the trust and confidence of its own officers from diverse communities before it can hope to bridge the gap in trust and confidence with the communities it serves."

Metropolitan Police chief Dame Cressida Dick

The Metropolitan Police said the force is "deeply sorry to Londoners".

"The conduct of a team of officers at Charing Cross police station in central London does not represent the values of the Metropolitan Police Service," a Met spokesperson said.

Scotland Yard's Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid said he was "angry and disappointed" at the officers' behaviour and recognised a need for "real change".

Of the 14 officers investigated in the report, two were dismissed for gross misconduct and barred from working with the police, while another two resigned.

Several other officers faced disciplinary action, the IOPC said.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was "utterly disgusted" by the findings.

"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," he said.

Khan said that while he welcomed the IOPC’s recommendations more was required to tackle "the scale of change" required within the Met.

A review of culture and standards in the Met is currently being carried out by Baroness Casey, in the wake of the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer.