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London police joked about raping women, domestic violence: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows London Metropolitan Police officers (Via the Guardian Newspaper)

A police watchdog says a series of investigations has found evidence of bullying and a shocking culture of racist abuse within the ranks of the London Metropolitan Police.

In a report released on Tuesday, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said the behavior was part of an offensive police culture, not just rogue individuals. "We believe these incidents are not isolated or simply the behavior of a few 'bad apples.'"

Police forces sent each other "shocking" racist and sexist messages, which made multiple references to sexual violence, it said. Messages, which include the use of racist language, were exchanged on social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook by a police unit between 2016 and 2018.

The watchdog said those officers who knew about the messages had been afraid to challenge it. "Several spoke of how when people spoke out about this behaviour, they were harassed, humiliated and excluded. Challenging sexual harassment led to additional problems."

"Female officers told us they would be treated as the 'weary female', told it was part of police culture that they should accept, 'play the game or stay quiet', or leave. We also obtained evidence that reports of sexual harassment were not dealt with sensitively within the MPS."

The messages also included references to African children and the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, the report said. There were also messages containing abuse against Muslims and disabled people.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said on Tuesday that he was "utterly disgusted" by the police behavior detailed in the report.

"It is right that the team concerned has been disbanded and the police officers found to be involved have been dismissed, disciplined or have left the police," he said.

"Anyone found to be responsible for sexism, racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, antisemitism, bullying or harassment does not deserve to wear the Met uniform and must be rooted out," Khan said.

The report has piled renewed pressure on the force months after a Met Police officer raped and murdered a young woman, Sarah Everard, after kidnapping her under the guise of an arrest.

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