JUST A COINCIDENCE: 5 Met officers separately accused of sexualised behaviour towards colleagues
CAMPAIGNERS claim it is no longer a "few bad apples" tarnishing the police service in response to the large volume of officers facing sexually-related misconduct claims.
Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said sex pest officers have become an "institutional issue" that still needs tackling.
She spoke out after it emerged a string of officers in Britain's biggest police force have been accused of sex assaults and indecent behaviour towards colleagues.
Details of misconduct cases for five officers accused of sexualised behaviour to colleagues, both on and off duty, were released by the Met in the past few weeks.
PCs Mark Neale and Joseph Demir and special constable Michael Yeomans are all separately accused of sexually touching colleagues while on duty on different dates over the past three years.
PC Andrew Featherstone is accused of inappropriately touching the same colleague on two occasions on nights out while off duty in 2021.
It is alleged that former Police Sergeant Anish Sharma inappropriately touched and exposed himself to a police woman at a party in the Thames Valley area in July 2021, before he and Thames Valley DCI James Senior, who is also accused of misconduct, allegedly tried to cover up his behaviour.
Separate misconduct hearings for the five officers and Mr Senior are set to take place over the next five months.
The Met said it was a "coincidence" that details were released of so many officers accused of similar behaviour at the same time.
It follows a string of sexual and misogynistic-based behaviour by police officers across the country including Wayne Couzens, who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard and serial rapist David Carrick, both formerly of the Met Police.
Ms Simon said: “While it is positive that more women and whistleblowers are coming forward to report sexual harassment and abuse perpetrated by male police officers, and that historic cases of misconduct are being looked at again to ensure they were handled appropriately, we cannot ignore that these cases have an extremely negative impact on public trust and confidence in policing.
"The scale of officers not fit for serving and the numbers of police perpetrators now being investigated is evidence of an institutional issue.
"There can be no more talk of a few ‘bad apples’ when it is clear the Met’s culture must change so that misogyny, racism and other forms of discrimination are not tolerated.
"The police hold a particular position of power and authority, and need to be held to the very highest standards of transparency and accountability.”
A spokesperson for Women Against Rape (WAR) said: "We’re glad the Met is tackling officers who assault female colleagues – they should be sacked!
"Police shouldn’t investigate sex crimes if they’re committing those crimes themselves. But shouldn’t they also be prosecuted, along with all the other police criminals? (Sir Mark) Rowley has said over 1,000 Met officers are under investigation or suspended. The public is entitled to accountability, including the sacking and prosecution of all misogynist, racist, homophobic, corrupt officers.“
A Met spokeswoman said there had been no crackdown on officers who allegedly sexually abused colleagues and it was just a coincidence that all the cases appeared at the same time.
He said: "There have been significant steps to root out the hundreds who have corrupted our integrity as we tackle systemic issues that allowed them to endure.
"One hundred police officers have been dismissed for gross misconduct in the last 12 months, an increase of 66 per cent on the historic rate and a total of 183 officers are currently suspended, up from 69 in September 2022 - a 165 per cent increase.
"There has been a 102 per cent increase in the number of officers awaiting a gross misconduct hearing, compared with this time last year (136 to 275)."