On Saturday, the Daily Mirror carried a well-researched and detailed article headlined:
MET POLICE’S SEXIST CULTURE OF PORN, BULLYING AND SEX JOKES EXPOSED
with the sub-heading:
EXCLUSIVE: Former female police officers have lifted the lid on the shocking misogyny in the police including male colleagues passing around porn and making jokes about having sex with a missing woman
It quoted former Greater Manchester Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy saying: “I have three grown-up daughters. If a member of my family was attacked, I would probably say no they shouldn’t report it. (The criminal justice system is) built on Victorian principles. It needs an overhaul.”
Susannah Fish, a former Nottinghamshire chief constable, the Mirror reported, believes that “misogyny in our police forces feed into the UK’s shockingly low rape and sexual harassment conviction rates… Misogyny is so ingrained in the decision-making… I would worry about reporting a crime against myself because I am not sure that it would be taken seriously.”
The Observer yesterday ran a piece headed:
REVEALED: THE GRIM LIST OF SEX ABUSE CLAIMS AGAINST METROPOLITAN POLICE
with a sub-heading:
The force upheld 119 cases among 600 complaints; they included an officer who was sacked after having sex with a rape victim
It included this:
“Figures from the Royal College of Policing’s current ‘barred list’ – officers who have been dismissed from a force and are banned from joining another – show that nearly a fifth of offences include abuse of position for sexual purposes, domestic violence or harassment against the public and colleagues.
“Of the 555 officers barred since the list was introduced in December 2017, more than 1,100 reasons for dismissal are listed of which more than 200 involve sexual, harassment or domestic abuse offences. Nearly a quarter of the barred officers served in the Metropolitan Police.”
Today, I read a piece in my local paper, the Borehamwood and Elstree Times, about a woman who had been sentenced to prison for assault – spitting at a Hertfordshire police officer. Admittedly spitting in someone’s face during the COVID pandemic is serious.
But a week ago, I posted a piece written by promoter Sally Homer about her niece, who had been brutally attacked and violently assaulted in the street at night in Warwickshire by a serving, off-duty West Midlands police officer.
It detailed the delay and obstruction which was encountered in trying to prosecute the police officer, despite a CCTV video (with clear sound) of the incident showing the unprovoked attack.
The policeman – PC Oliver Banfield – was last week found guilty of ‘assault by beating’ and sentenced at Leicester Magistrates’ Court for his attack. He was given no prison sentence. He was prosecuted in Leicester despite the fact the crime did not happen in Leicester, he does not live in Leicester and does not serve in Leicester. One can only presume this was done so as not to embarrass him in his home area.
Instead of a prison sentence, he was given a 14-week night-time curfew and faces disciplinary action; he is still a serving police officer and avoided a community service order because it was said it would be difficult for him to work with criminals.
A propos the 14-week night-time curfew – PC Oliver Banfield’s ‘sentence’ for a violent ‘assault by beating’ – it is worth remembering that the current COVID Lockdown restrictions mean no-one is supposed to leave home unless it is absolutely necessary; all pubs, restaurants, cafes are closed except for take-aways; and all entertainment venues are closed.
I cannot see his life being affected.
Sally Homer has written this follow-up piece which discusses the PR spin (some might call it continued dishonesty) used by the police in this case.…
Sally – an expert in issuing PR statements – suggests that this piece should be a must-read for Police Communications Officers. I agree.
My niece’s attacker was sentenced on Friday. She gave an exclusive interview with Channel 4 News and the story went far and wide. This was media relations – the job I have done all my career.
On Friday afternoon both police forces – Warwickshire (investigating) and West Midlands (PC Banfield’s employer) – issued statements after C4 News invited them to respond within 24 hours.
West Midlands’ statement begins: “To protect the criminal case we’ve not been able to carry out our own misconduct investigation until its conclusion. Now sentencing has taken place, our investigation will be carried out and PC Banfield faces allegations of gross misconduct and is currently suspended.”
We were pleased to learn he had been suspended but the word ‘currently’ is deeply misleading.
We received a phone call and follow-up email from their professional standards dept on 17th February (this year) explaining that, because PC Banfield pleaded guilty, they did not have to wait until sentencing and their conduct review could begin immediately:
“To clarify our conversation today I have explained that this matter is no longer Sub Judice as the officer pleaded guilty to assault and he is due to be sentenced on 5thMarch 2020. That now means we can continue with our conduct investigation which will include the review of the criminal case too.”
Did they give us false information a full month ago whilst PC Banfield remained in post (albeit on restrictive duties)?
Were they lying to the victim or misleading the public?
Warwickshire’s statement ended:
“We acknowledge that, due to internal process errors, the initial response to the report of the assault was not as swift as it should have been and an apology has been issued with regards to this. A proportionate investigation was then conducted, which ultimately led to the charge and prosecution of the perpetrator.”
A ‘proportionate investigation’ – nothing to do with the case against Banfield – was conducted into their OWN investigation because we made a formal complaint in August 2020 – that ultimately lead to the apology offered to my niece. The charge was made because we made a ‘victim’s right to appeal’ to the Crown Prosecution Service and the prosecution resulted because he pleaded guilty.
In fact, Warwickshire Police did less than nothing to bring this case to court and this statement is deeply inaccurate and misleading.
So Police Communications Officers take note:
THIS IS HOW TO WRITE A PR STATEMENT:
- DON’T TELL LIES
- DON’T TAKE CREDIT FOR SOMETHING YOU HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH
- DEMONSTRATE COMPASSION
Personally, I think it is a faint hope that the police will change their ways.
Harriet Wistrich, Director of the Centre for Women’s Justice, issued the following statement:
“No wonder women are angry and protesting against male violence, misogyny in the police and across the criminal justice system.
“They are being failed by the police, failed by the CPS (the Crown Prosecution Service) and now failed by the judiciary.
“A mere curfew for a misogynist and violent crime such as this is laughable.
“We hope the police will now take uncompromising action against the officer and signal that there is no place for this conduct under any circumstances from their officers.”
Also, if you read the email received from the Police ‘Professional Standards Department’ on 17th February this year and quoted by Sally Homer, you may have noticed they said in writing: “…this matter is no longer Sub Judice as the officer pleaded guilty to assault and he is due to be sentenced on 5thMarch 2020″.
The sentencing was later delayed to 19th March. But police accuracy is somewhat called into question when they think this is 2020 not 2021…. If you want to know the time (or the facts) do not ask a policeman.
THERE IS A FOLLOW-UP BLOG HERE