Women police officers are afraid to report the misconduct of male colleagues as they fear they will be left to “get kicked in” if they call for help while on duty, a former senior cop has said.
Following the jailing of Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens for the murder of Sarah Everard, Parm Sandhu, an ex-chief superintendent in the Metropolitan Police, said she had been “vilified” when she raised concerns about the way she was treated.
Questions have been raised over whether Scotland Yard turned a blind eye to Couzens’ behaviour prior to the kidnap, rape and murder of the 33-year-old.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating whether previous allegations against him were properly dealt with.
Couzens was accused of indecent exposure in the days before the killing, and he had been accused of the same crime in Kent in 2015, while working as an officer for the Civil Nuclear Constabulary. According to The Sun newspaper, he was nicknamed “the rapist” by colleagues there.
The Old Bailey heard that his colleagues knew he was “attracted to violent sexual pornography” and an “incident” was reported in 2002.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s The World At One, Sandhu said: “The police service is very sexist and misogynistic. A lot of women will not report their colleagues.
“What happens is that male police officers will then close ranks and the fear that most women police officers have got is that when you are calling for help, you press that emergency button or your radio, they’re not going to turn up and you’re going to get kicked in in the street.
“So you have got to be very careful which battles you can fight and which ones you can actually win.”
Can’t quite believe what I just heard on @BBCWorldatOne. Former Met chief super Parm Sandhu saying female officers don’t always report suspicious behaviour of male colleagues because they “close ranks” & you risk being left to get your head kicked in on duty if you call for help
— Kate McCann (@KateEMcCann) September 30, 2021
Couzens was sentenced to whole life imprisonment on Thursday after facing charges for kidnapping, raping and murdering the marketing executive after she disappeared on March 3 earlier this year.
The judge said Everard was a “wholly blameless victim”, and Couzens used his position as a police officer to “coerce” her.
On the same day, an environmental activist who was deceived into a nearly two-year relationship with an undercover officer won a landmark tribunal case against the Metropolitan Police for breaches of her human rights.
Kate Wilson, 41, began a relationship with Mark Stone shortly after first meeting him in 2003 and had a “whirlwind romance” for over a year before they split amicably in 2005, when she moved to Spain.
In the last two days, Scotland Yard has faced criticism for distancing the force from Couzens by emphasising he was an “ex” officer – despite the fact he used Met-issued ID and handcuffs to abduct Sarah. He was only thrown out of the service after his arrest.
The Met’s commissioner Cressida Dick faces calls to step down amid demands for urgent action to restore the confidence of women in the police.
Following the sentencing, Dick was heckled by people calling for her resignation as she said Sarah’s murder has brought “shame” on the force, admitting: “A precious form of trust has been damaged.”