Police are using WhatsApp as a “hiding place” to be racist and misogynistic, a watchdog has warned.
Sal Naseem, London regional director for the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), said the misogynistic canteen culture of the 1960s and 1970s has now transferred to the “psychological safety” of WhatsApp groups .
However, Mr Naseem, who led the investigation into the ‘shocking’ misogynistic and racist messages shared by some at Charing Cross Police Station, said too many officers on duty were failing to call him. He also warned that other cases would be exposed by the IOPC Fund in the coming months.
He told Policing TV: “Basically, we don’t see serving officers calling out other serving officers, when they see these discriminatory things, or when there are officers who are victimized.”
“Start denouncing this behavior”
Mr Naseem said that although the rules for such behavior were clearly set out in a code of ethics for the police, they were “just words on a paper” and had to be enforced.
“What we need is for serving officers to demonstrate what they are doing on the front line, and be there for their colleagues and start speaking out against this behavior,” he said.
“The culture has to be a culture where there is hardly any hiding place for her. And unfortunately we have found that with these WhatsApp groups, officers feel emboldened and safe.
Mr Naseem said he had taken the decision to post Charing Cross’s WhatsApp and text messages so that the public and other serving officers could understand what their colleagues had to suffer.
They included one sent by a male officer to a female colleague, saying, “I would love to rape you.” Officers joked about attending a festival dressed as known sex offenders. Racist texts were also sent about Muslim “fanatics”, “Somali rats” and others referring to Auschwitz.
He said that while he had been the victim of racial slurs on social media after the report was published, he had also been heartened by the “number of supports” he had received from other serving officers.
He said: ‘I’ve had private messages from serving officers saying, ‘Thank you. I’m shocked. I did not know. The serving officers were thanking me, the IOPC, for bringing this to light, for bringing this to light.
Stop and seek issues
Mr Naseem also warned that the “over-representation” of black and ethnic minorities in stops and searches was undermining their communities’ trust in the police.
He said: “We call for an end to the routine use of force, especially handcuffs, stops and searches. It can only be used where it should only be used when reasonable, necessary and proportionate. »