Who will protect women from police misogyny? | Letters

Jenny Jones decries police violence against women and new laws against peaceful protest, Caroline Harper calls for a global response, and other readers give their views

The police service is finally coming to terms with having a significant number of rapists and domestic abusers in its ranks (Elite Metropolitan police officer David Carrick revealed as serial rapist, 16 January). From the state-sponsored abuses of the spy cops scandal to the murder of Sarah Everard and the arrest of those at her vigil, the police have failed to deal with misogyny in their own ranks.

The turning of a blind eye when women reported that their police officer partners were abusing them is also part of this pattern of failure that has led to record low conviction rates for crimes of sexual violence against women.

Six police services in England are in special measures and hundreds of thousands of everyday offences are not being investigated as they are “no crimed”; yet the government is obsessed with passing draconian laws aimed at peaceful protesters who commit no violent acts.

The distorted priorities of ministers, who are afraid of protest against corruption, austerity and rightwing policies, means that they wish to hand a mistrusted and failing police service the ability to arrest people who are thinking about protesting peacefully.
Jenny Jones
Green party, House of Lords

• The focus is on the Metropolitan police now, but misogynistic culture in policing is a global challenge for these male-dominated institutions. Systemic abuse of power by police is increasingly the norm rather than an exception. Other examples include dismissal of women’s disappearances by Mexican authorities, sexual violence by security force personnel in Chile, and the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody in Iran.

Transformative change to policing will depend on looking deeper than just institutional recruiting processes and protocols. This is because those working in the police are just a reflection of the culture that exists across wider society.

To shift attitudes and behaviour, challenging gender norms must be at the centre of training practices and disciplinary decision-making, but real change will depend on more structural commitments. This means more women in politics, digital regulation of online misogyny and access to violent pornography, legislative and judicial shifts to focus on perpetrators rather than victims/survivors, and early years education to halt abuse before it starts.
Caroline Harper
Director of gender equality and social inclusion, ODI

• I finished my police career in 2004. In my day, there was locker-room banter, but no one had a nickname like “Bastard Dave”. Our locker room seems a very innocent place compared with current Metropolitan police behaviour.

A common feature, however, was the sometimes terrible handling of rape complaints. While I was serving as a police officer, my daughter was one such victim and the wildly botched handling of the incident caused much unnecessary additional strife for her, me and the rest of my family. Many unjustified sexist biases existed and are obviously deeply rooted.

Vetting of police officers must improve, for the sake of the service as much as the sake of the public.
Name and address supplied

• Twenty-five years ago, I taught an undergraduate course in policing at Liverpool John Moores University. My colleague, a former police officer, contributed a set of lectures that he entitled “Can’t change, won’t change”. Enough said.
Peter Gill
Weymouth, Dorset

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