Clapham vigil policing investigator is suing Home Office for sex and race bias

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matthew Parr claims that he faced discrimination for being a white man

The investigator helping coordinate the official inquiry into the Metropolitan police’s handling of the Sarah Everard vigil and concerns over women’s safety is suing the Home Office for sex discrimination over claims that he has been penalised for being a “white man”, the Observer can reveal.

Matthew Parr, one of five HM Inspectors of Constabulary who oversee UK police forces, is involved in shaping the inquiry into why officers manhandled women at the vigil where hundreds had gathered to call for safer streets and an end to “misogynistic” policing. However, Parr is also currently suing the government for sex and race discrimination after learning a black female colleague was being paid more.

Recently Parr told an employment tribunal that he believed his “race and sex had a clear influence” on the decision to pay him less, which the Home Office denies.

Parr receives a salary of £140,000 a year but claims his pay is too low compared with colleague Wendy Williams, who is paid £185,000.

Following last weekend’s vigil, the home secretary Priti Patel ordered the policing inspectorate to carry out an independent inquiry and report back within two weeks.

Parr, who is an inspector of several police forces including the Met, has been involved in meetings regarding the vigil investigation.

The report’s conclusion could intensify pressure on the force’s commissioner, Cressida Dick, who so far has resisted calls to resign amid widespread outrage over officers’ approach towards women mourning the killing of Sarah Everard.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick
Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick has resisted calls to resign. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

In the meantime, scrutiny of Britain’s most senior police officer on issues of women’s safety remains fierce with the commissioner on Saturday night accused of effectively blocking the national rollout of misogyny as a hate crime among police forces.

The academics who helped Nottinghamshire police become the first force in the country to treat the offence as a hate crime in April 2016 said the commissioner’s refusal to follow their lead in 2018 undermined the widespread adoption of the measure.

In November 2018 the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Sara Thornton, said incidents of misogyny should not be pursued because forces were too stretched, a stance supported by Dick who said her focus was on reducing violent crime.

Criminologist Loretta Trickett from Nottingham Trent University, whose work was instrumental in persuading her local force to adopt the offence, said: “If the Met had come on board with this all the other police forces would have followed because it’s so big and influential.

“What was so damaging was that it was deemed to be something trivial … the opposite of what Nottinghamshire police had been saying.

“We were trying to have this taken seriously by police and to have that undermined by the Met as the biggest force in the country was a big blow. That sent a clear message that they didn’t think it was important enough.”

Trickett believes that Britain’s biggest police force had difficulty understanding the escalation of street harassment to sexual violence.

“I don’t think the Met are joining the dots between street harassment against women and girls and how that can escalate into wider violence. They don’t see the connection between the sort of men engaged in street harassment and those who are committing rape and domestic violence offences,” added Trickett.

However Trickett and her colleagues did celebrate a breakthrough last Wednesday when ministers announced they would require police forces to collect data on crimes seemingly motivated by hostility towards women, a significant step towards making misogyny a hate crime.

A statement from the Met said: “The commissioner is determined to improve criminal justice outcomes for women and all victims of crime.”

It added: “At the current time there is no specific recognition of misogyny within the criminal law. However, such incidents may amount to harassment, threats, intimidation or assault which are criminal offences we take very seriously.

“We would urge anyone who believes they may have been a victim to report to us.”


Mark Townsend

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Cressida Dick refuses to quit over vigil policing and dismisses 'armchair critics'
Metropolitan police chief stands firm after criticism from London mayor and home secretary

Vikram Dodd, Aamna Mohdin and Aubrey Allegretti

15, Mar, 2021 @12:23 AM

Article image
Crisis after crisis: what is going wrong at the Met police?
The fights outside the Euro 2020 final and the Daniel Morgan inquiry are just the latest controversies to hit the force. But Cressida Dick is confident of serving a second term as its chief

Mark Townsend

18, Jul, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Wrong to label Extinction Rebellion as extremists, says Home Office adviser
Peer at odds with Priti Patel over climate activists on eve of more protests

Tom Wall

21, Aug, 2021 @1:00 PM

Article image
Police clash with mourners at Sarah Everard vigil in London
Unofficial event on Clapham Common marred by at least one arrest and confrontations with officers

Emma Graham-Harrison

13, Mar, 2021 @11:53 PM

Article image
The Metropolitan police canteen culture that shielded Sarah Everard’s killer
The murder of a woman by a serving officer has exposed the Met, once labelled institutionally racist, to accusations that it is also institutionally misogynist

Mark Townsend

02, Oct, 2021 @3:07 PM

Article image
Parliament Square crowd protests against policing of Sarah Everard vigil
Officers take a hands-off approach to event on Sunday called in response to tactics used the previous day

Aamna Mohdin and Damien Gayle

14, Mar, 2021 @7:19 PM

Article image
Anti-corruption tsar vows to tackle Met police over Daniel Morgan cover-up
Pressure increases on Cressida Dick to resign as commissioner after PM’s adviser condemns ‘horrifying’ findings of inquiry into murder of private detective

Mark Townsend and Michael Savage

19, Jun, 2021 @4:00 PM

Article image
Everard murder case sparks urgent inquiry into vetting of police officers
Those who report inappropriate behaviour in forces should be given more support, say senior officers

Mark Townsend and Michael Savage

03, Oct, 2021 @5:15 AM

Article image
‘We can’t wait any longer’: anger over Priti Patel’s ‘inaction’ on violence against women
The killing of Ashling Murphy this month has highlighted the lack of progress on promises made after Sarah Everard’s murder

Mark Townsend Home Affairs Editor

22, Jan, 2022 @2:15 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on the Met and protests: police need reform, not more power | Editorial
Editorial: The service cannot win back public trust without a fundamental change in culture


14, Mar, 2021 @6:32 PM