The findings of the Casey report are devastating for victims, exposing a broken Met police system. It now falls on forces to reform and restore the public’s trust. Never have specialist independent victim services been more needed.
Baroness Louise Casey’s review details the failings of the Met Police, stating that Britain’s largest police force is institutionally racist, misogynist, and homophobic.
Commissioned in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder by serving police officer Wayne Couzens, the report exposes widespread bulling and an ingrained culture of arrogance and denial which developed over many years.
Casey describes how patterns of predatory behaviour were not identified and, when they were reported, they were not believed and the people complaining were ‘treated badly’ and subjected to counter claims. She goes on to state that, in the absence of vigilance, predatory behaviour was allowed to flourish. The report suggests that Londoners have been ‘put last’ with women and children left behind, describing the force’s violence against women and girls’ strategy as ‘ringing hollow’.
The report also provides a stark reminder that the force has been subject to similar reviews over several years and no effective action has been taken.
For the many thousands of victims and survivors who need to report domestic abuse or sexual violence every week these findings will be distressing and likely further reduce their confidence in reporting. This confidence has already been undermined by poor conviction rates and a huge waiting time for cases to come to court. Victims, survivors and, in some cases, their children are being failed by the very systems and organisations set up to protect them.
Additionally, although the report deals only with the Met Police, it undermines the reputation of police forces across the country, many of which have made huge improvements in their responses to victims and survivors over the last 5 years.
We work closely with our local police forces to help improve the response to violence against women and girls, challenging attitudes and beliefs that allow predatory behaviour to flourish.
We have seen the development of proactive strategies to combat violence against women and girls in both North and South Yorkshire and we have been proud to support the training of all new police recruits in these areas. This commitment to bring about change must continue, and it needs to be underpinned by our specialist, independent, victim support services as, whilst confidence in policing remains low, charities and other community organisations continue to offer green shoots of hope to victims.
We provide a lifeline for survivors, responding to increasing demand with compassion, determination, and innovation, whilst managing spiralling costs and a reduction in donations due to the cost-of living crisis. The failings of the Met Police make a compelling case for sustainable funding for specialist, community-based victim services who can lead a ‘whole community’ approach to tackling violence against women and girls.
Victims and survivors need us more than ever to listen, believe and advocate for them.