No bandwagon shall go unladen. In considering the many blaring campaigns to end ‘Violence against Women and Girls’ (VAWG), this could be the motto which unites them all. Apart from being divisive, political and completely unrealistic in their aims and actions, such initiatives are almost all the result of sharp media attention on a small number of disturbing events.
In March of this year, Baroness Louise Casey dropped a hefty 363-page review in Sir Mark Rowley’s in-tray. Rowley, a Common Purpose graduate, was appointed Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service (the Met) in September last year, vowing to clear up the almighty muddle left by his predecessor, fellow Common Purpose graduate, Dame Cressida Dick.
A large part of his commitment relates to the horrific and very well-publicised crimes of Wayne Couzens and David Carrick. Couzens and Carrick were both serving in the Met when, respectively, they committed murder and multiple sexual offences. Of the many inferences drawn from the behaviour of these two men, those treated with the most significance have been that the Met—and police in general—have a problem with misconduct and misogyny and that VAWG must be prioritised inside and outside police forces, so that it can be reduced and ended.
According to the Met, which is the subject of the Casey Review, this enormous body of work (which took a year to complete) does but two things.
- It discusses whether the Met’s leadership, recruitment, vetting, training, culture and communications support the standards the public should expect.
- It recommends how high standards can be routinely met, and how high levels of public trust in the Met can be restored and maintained.
The second of the nine Peelian Principles states police must ‘recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.’ A mere glance at Casey’s findings shatters this principle. The Analytical Report, which supports the main document, deals with a total of 18,589 allegations, 10,252 cases and 12,856 personnel involved in some sort of misconduct proceedings between 2013 and 2022.
How grave a problem?
There is no doubt that the Met, comprising around 44,000 police and staff, is a very different beast from the other forces of the UK. As a frame of reference, Police Scotland, which is the second largest force, weighs in with just over 16,500 police and staff. Setting the misconduct numbers in context is difficult, but an average of around 3% of serving personnel can be assumed to have been undergoing some sort of disciplinary investigation during this ten-year period. It must also be assumed that many of those being investigated have had multiple allegations made against them.
On the face of it, this is shocking. How can it be the case that the very organisation that is supposed to prevent crime and disorder is host to so very much of it? Moreover—and more importantly—is it in any way realistic to imagine an institution so polluted may act with efficiency, impartiality and integrity in its dealings with the public?
In answer to the first question, keep reading; and in answer to the second question, almost certainly not.
In November 2022, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) produced a report prompted by these same events. It was entitled An inspection of vetting, misconduct, misogyny in the police service and I wrote an article about it for UK Column. Commentary around the report itself, and the concurrent news items about David Carrick, was based upon the ‘toxic’, ‘male-dominated’ ‘canteen culture’ prevalent within police forces. This commentary was unified, though it missed the point.
Bearing in mind the common basis of the HMICFRS inspection and the Baroness Casey Review, is it possible to judge how much of a problem VAWG is inside the police forces? Statistics, as always, must be treated with great caution. Casey’s figures
suggest that of all the allegations during the decade she looked at, just ‘835 allegations have been made in the period where sexual assault, harassment, or other sexual or emotional misconduct is mentioned’, which is only 4.5% of all allegations, or an average of just over 80 per year, from a pool of 44,000 potential offenders. Given the complete uncertainty surrounding the data that is not
available, such as the number of people that did not come forward to report misconduct, we need to make better use of what we do have.
Those that knew and worked with Wayne Couzens and David Carrick were well aware of their proclivities, even if they may not have realised the potential for their causing serious harm. One of the most significant conclusions drawn by Casey is that ‘The misconduct process does not find and discipline officers with repeated or patterns of unacceptable behaviour’. Of course, she is basing this judgement on an evaluation of statistical and, to an extent, anecdotal evidence.
24 instances where the same officer had been investigated on two or more occasions for behaviour linked to sexual misconduct and domestic abuse—but found that these previous allegations had not been taken into account when considering if there was a case to answer for the alleged misconduct or its severity.
It stands to reason that there are many more such instances that were not uncovered during the trawl, and it is not too much of a stretch to believe that those with allegations made against them would have a high likelihood of involvement in similar but unreported incidents.
Louise Casey and her team found all of this information from a position of being outside the organisation in question. Just imagine what must have been known, and is known, by those on the inside. This would be the point at which to call into question the efficacy of the Met’s Professional Standards Units (PSU) and the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) itself.
Seek not, and ye shall not find
Much is made of the under-staffing and under-resourcing of these units, though the truth lies closer to the Government’s favoured position of not looking for something if you are not keen on finding it. However, from April of this year, the Met has jerked its knees accordingly and announced a great push towards improving the situation, with the Commissioner quoted as saying:
It is clear that the vast majority of our officers and staff are determined to confront those who have corrupted our integrity. I have seen and heard this repeatedly in discussions with those on our frontline. This is our collective fight.
In making such a statement, Rowley seems intent on insinuating and perpetuating at least two untruths.
Had it really been clear that officers and staff were so determined, then they would have done all of this confronting. After all, the ‘challenge’ is central to police use of its much-mentioned but little-practiced Code of Ethics. They would not have needed to wait for one colleague to murder a member of the public and another to commit rape at least twelve times. Furthermore, they would not have needed to wait for the completion of not just one, but two, comprehensive reviews into this issue. Yet Commissioner Mark Rowley is happy to suggest to the public that police are, in fact, itching to clean house. On top of this, he infers that the huge bandwidth of media coverage of the recent misdeeds of two serving constables is illustrative of this problem being a completely novel phenomenon.
The slide below this paragraph shows a selection of the national and worldwide organisations that appear to be completely aligned on the matter, despite there being no evident connections between many of them. The topic may as well have been the ‘climate emergency’ or Black Lives Matter (BLM) or the rank and idiotic selfishness of those declining experimental pharmaceuticals.
I make these comparisons because they share a common factor, and that is that they segment and divide society. Violence against Women and Girls is a perfect example of this; implicit in the very definition is the inherent danger that men present to the opposite sex. You may well have wondered why other dreadful and often criminal behaviour of serving police constables and staff is not treated with equal disdain, or why violence of all natures is not condemned.