Federation chair calls for 'recalibration' of police culture

Police need to recalibrate elements of canteen culture where “sexist nicknames and derogatory remarks are made”, the national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has said.

Nov 1, 2021
By Tony Thompson
John Apter

In an article published in The Sunday Times, John Apter, said policing needed a culture change in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard by serving officer Wayne Couzens to win back the trust of the public.

“It’s not enough to say that this was the actions of one evil man who deserves to rot in jail. We must demonstrate not only through our words, but also through our actions, that sexism and misogyny have absolutely no place in the police service,” he wrote.

“Misogyny is not just a problem for women — it’s a problem for us all. Far too often there is silence when this takes place, and through this inaction we are failing each other and the wider society.

“Even within policing, female staff are treated differently from male counterparts. We badly need to restart how we deal with this internally to get our own house in order, and police leaders must be far more vocal in calling out this injustice.

“What problems do female officers sometimes uniquely face? We need to consign to the history books some of our ‘canteen culture’, where sexist nicknames and derogatory remarks are made. When banter crosses the line to become sexist, derogatory or homophobic, that’s when it ceases to be banter, and this is where we need a recalibration.

“There is growing evidence that shows some policing actions are culturally out of step. Recent events have shone a spotlight on this and without doubt damaged public confidence. Maintaining public confidence in policing is essential, so we have to accept that we have a problem, as only then can we deal with it. Cultural change is never easy, and this is not unique to policing, but just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean we mustn’t try. Doing nothing is not an option.”

Last week, the Independent Office for Police Conduct revealed five police officers from four forces are facing disciplinary action over messages shared on social media about Sarah Everard’s killer.

In addition, a probationary constable from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was investigated over allegations they used WhatsApp “to share with colleagues an inappropriate graphic, depicting violence against women” while off-duty.

Another MPS police constable, also still on probation, had a case to answer for “allegedly sharing the graphic and failing to challenge it” and will also be subject to a misconduct meeting.

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