Sadiq Khan has backed growing calls for misogyny to be treated as a hate crime, while warning that the Metropolitan Police Service has a “big job to do” to regain the trust of “women and girls, and all Londoners,” in the wake of the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met officer.
Any police officer who abuses their position must be “rooted out”, he added, speaking at the London Assembly’s monthly Mayor’s Question Time session yesterday.
The Mayor said that confidence in the capital’s police service had been damaged not only by the circumstances of the murder but also by reports of “sexism, misogyny, racism, homophobia and sexual misconduct” among some groups of officers.
“I know that the vast majority of police officers are decent, dedicated public servants, but all police officers must adhere to the highest professional standards,” he said. “We must stamp out misogyny, sexism, racism and homophobia, root out those who abuse their trusted position as police officers, and ensure that tackling violence against women and girls is treated with the highest priority.”
Khan welcomed the forthcoming Home Office inquiry into the issues raised by the case, which he said had been agreed at a meeting with Home Secretary Priti Patel. “We agreed that the gravity of the situation required nothing less than a proper inquiry that would leave no stone unturned,” he told AMs.
Khan also backed the wider independent probe into conduct and standards in the Met ordered by Commissioner Cressida Dick, to be carried out by veteran Whitehall trouble-shooter Baroness Louise Casey, and the separate national review of current and past investigations of sexual and domestic abuse allegations against serving officers.
The Met would be publishing a new action plan shortly on tackling violence against women and girls, Khan confirmed. “I have been clear with the Commissioner about the challenges we face,” he said. “I will continue to support and hold the MPS to account to deliver the change we agree is needed.”
The Mayor also suggested that recent comments by Prime Minister Johnson opposing treating misogyny as a hate crime “may not be the view of the government”. Announcements are expected later this year, with some police forces already categorising misogynistic abuse or violence as hate crime.
That experience had led not only to more reporting but “a cultural change for the better in those police forces as well,” Khan said. “I’m quite clear: just as other [Equality Act 2010] protected characteristics are categorised as hate crime, I think misogyny should be as well.”
The session also heard a call for the full restoration of the Night Tube from Conservative Emma Best, elected as a London-wide AM this May, including a powerful focus on her own experiences of travelling at night.
“I’ve witnessed and heard stories of inappropriate sexual behaviour at night on London streets, in taxis, at bus stops, as, sadly, a lot of women in our city have,” she said. “While most bus journeys are uneventful and most taxi drivers are lovely and professional, it’s easy to see why women and girls want a better transport option at night. And the Night Tube provides that safe haven.”
Yesterday’s Mayor’s Question Time can be watched in full here.
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