The police authorities in the United Kingdom have called for an end to the macho, sexist, misogynist and homophobic “canteen culture” found within the police in order to try to regain the trust of society as a whole.
John Apter, the National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, who represents over 130,000 police officers, has recognised that in the police forces in the United Kingdom, women officers are subjected to sexist nicknames and disparaging remarks, and added that such behaviour had to be brought to an end, according to a report published a few days ago in the British newspaper the Sunday Times.
Apter added that it is essential to maintain public trust in the police, and that it therefore had to be accepted that there was a problem as the only way to deal with it.
After Wayne Couzens was found guilty of the murder of Sarah Everard, aged 33, the country’s police forces were described as institutionally misogynist by a former head of the Nottinghamshire police, Susannah Fish. Fish stated that she had herself been sexually assaulted by colleagues while working as a police officer. Cultural changes are never easy, and this is not true only in the case of the police, but just because a situation is difficult to change does not mean that an attempt should not be made. Taking no action is not an option.
Wayne Couzens was sentenced to life imprisonment for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, after she had disappeared while she was returning home from a friend’s house in South London. At the time, Couzens was an on-duty police officer and used his police badge and handcuffs to kidnap her.
Apter declared that this terrible murder had damaged society’s trust in the police. Everybody in the police needed to tackle this problem. It was not enough to say that these were the actions of an evil man who deserved to rot in jail.
It had to be shown, not only through words but also through actions, that sexism and misogyny have absolutely no place in any police force.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct announced that five police officers from four different regional police forces were facing disciplinary measures for messages shared on the social networks concerning Everard’s murder.
John Apter added that misogyny was a problem not only for women, but for everyone. Only too often such incidents were passed over in silence, and such inaction meant officers were failing each other and wider society.
There was a need to consign to the history books this canteen culture where sexist nicknames and derogatory remarks were made. When joking crossed the line to become sexist, derogatory or homophobic it ceased to be joking, and this is when it was necessary to react.