Ex-police chief slams Cressida Dick for lack of action on misogyny

Ex-police chief slams Cressida Dick for lack of action in tackling misogyny and says Met’s safety guidelines have ‘absolutely no insight whatsoever’ amid anger at handling of Sarah Everard case

  • Sue Fish, former chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police, slammed Met Police
  • She claimed the force’s safety guidelines have ‘absolutely no insight whatsoever’
  • She called them ‘completely absurd’ as fury grows about the Sarah Everard case

A former police chief has slammed Dame Cressida Dick for a lack of action in tackling misogyny in the Metropolitan Police.

Sue Fish, ex-chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police, blasted the London force’s safety guidelines as having ‘absolutely no insight whatsoever’.

She rubbished them as ‘completely absurd’ and ‘impractical’ as fury grows at the handling of the Sarah Everard case.

Scotland Yard bosses are believed to remain sceptical about recording misogyny as a hate crime despite the majority of other chief constables backing the move.

Some senior officers are said to think the reform – drafted in March after Ms Everard’s death – is not needed because present legislation is adequate.

Ms Fish’s powerful intervention was echoed by Alice Vinten, who served in the Met for more than 10 years as a constable before leaving the force in 2015.

She hit out at the ‘lads culture’ during her time there and said women were still worried to report concerns about their colleagues.

But she was shot down by former Met Commissioner Lord Blair, who said: ‘It simply cannot be the case that this lads culture of the 1970s is surviving everywhere.’

Meanwhile politicians including former Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and current Home Secretary Priti Patel also weighed into the debate.

Mr Javid today called for a reform to policing in London but said he backed officers who do ‘an amazing job’.

Mr Johnson last night savaged the ‘infuriating’ failure of the Metropolitan Police to take violence against women seriously.

And Ms Patel ordered police to take harassment and flashing more seriously and dismissed the idea that they were ‘low level crimes’.


Sue Fish (left), ex-chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police, blasted Dame Cressida’s (right) force’s safety guidelines as having ‘absolutely no insight whatsoever’

She rubbished them as ‘completely absurd’ and ‘impractical’ as fury grows at the handling of the Sarah Everard (pictured) case

Ms Fish was the latest former police chief to take a shot at Dame Cressida, slamming a lack of action in tackling misogyny in the Met.

She called the guidelines ‘completely absurd’ and ‘impractical’, adding the force ‘have absolutely no insight whatsoever’.

Ms Fish, who was chief constable with Nottinghamshire Police in 2016 when it recorded misogyny as a hate crime, said it made a ‘significant difference’.

She told Newsnight: ‘This isn’t about an individual officer. This is about a prevailing culture within policing and it has to be broken. It has to have been broken many years ago.’ She called for a public inquiry around policing and misogyny.

But the Metropolitan Police is said to be sceptical about making misogyny a hate crime, the Times reports.

Some senior officers are understood to believe the legislation as it currently is written is adequate.

This is despite the government making it a key reform for all forces in March after Ms Everard was killed.

Out of the 43 forces in England and Wales, 11 have already followed the new guideline.

But chief constables are believed to be waiting for the Home Office to issue specific guidance on how to record the offences.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council debated it at a meeting earlier this week, with sources revealing the majority supported the change.

But the Met is said to be unsure. Deputy Commissioner Sir Steve House said this summer Dame Cressida needed to be ‘convinced’ and is said to hold the same views.

Despite this, Ms Vinten, who served in the Met for more than 10 years as a constable before leaving the force in 2015, said ‘it was very much a lads culture’.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme women were worried to report concerns about their colleagues because this was still ‘stigmatised’.

Former Met commissioner Lord Blair disagreed, saying: ‘It simply cannot be the case that this sort of lads culture of the 1970s is surviving everywhere.’

But he admitted Ms Everard’s case and the fact her killer Wayne Couzens was in the police had been a ‘seismic shock for policy and it needs to be addressed’.

He told the Today programme: ‘I think the most important thing about the murder of Sarah Everard is that comparative cases are things like Dr Shipman, the Soham murders, the collapse of Barings bank, something that was so simply shocking – how can this have happened.

Former Met commissioner Lord Blair (pictured) said: ‘It simply cannot be the case that this sort of lads culture of the 1970s is surviving everywhere’

‘The response of the Met needs to be the response to those kind of crises which is an independent inquiry to try to discover what are the processes that allowed this man – who’s obviously a manipulative, homicidal maniac – to become a police officer.’

He continued: ‘But we do have to discover what is fact. The claim Couzens was called a rapist by his colleagues, the trial judge said this was the best murder investigation he’d every seen and that investigative team found no record of that phrase. Yet that’s sort of circulating around as a fact when it isn’t a fact.’

He added of any future inquiry: ‘This needs an absolutely forensic outside look.

‘Something has gone wrong in vetting perhaps, although one thing I would also want to add is that although they discovered the car involved in the indecent exposure belonged to a Wayne Couzens, the police national computer doesn’t tell you he was a police officer.

‘Are we going to do this for every citizen of the country? What their occupation is… if you started to do that for police there would be calls for all occupations to do that.’

He went on: ‘I don’t necessarily think [an inquiry] should be lawyer or judge led. It needs to be someone with an idea about organisational culture…

‘I’m just saying I’m not sure it’s a judicial issue. I think it’s much more an organisational culture and internal procedures issue.’

Politicians also weighed into the row, with former Home Secretary and now Health Secretary Mr Javid backing calls for an independent inquiry.

He told Sky News: ‘The police are there to protect us and what I saw as Home Secretary day in day out the police were doing an amazing job looking after the British people, protecting people.

‘I saw things they did, quite heroic things, to save lives, a countless number of lives across the UK.

‘But it’s because of that, because they’re there to protect us that that this appalling crime has had the shock it has across the country and rightly so.

‘No one would have thought a police officer would be capable of this and that’s why I think it is right there needs to be reform.

‘I can’t tell you – I wish I could – exactly what what that should be. I think it should be looked at properly and carefully and the police do need to be part of that reform.’

He added: ‘Look I’m a proud father of four children, which includes three girls, including two teenage girls and I think as any parent in the country over the past few days especially we would have all thought about our own families.’

Meanwhile Prime Minister Johnson savaged the ‘infuriating’ failure of the Metropolitan Police to take violence against women seriously.

He said the public are right to question whether police are failing women in the wake of the damning revelations of Ms Everard’s case and the missed opportunities.

Mr Johnson held talks with Dame Cressida Thursday about how to boost the low rate of prosecutions for rape in the hope of removing dangerous men from the streets.

He told The Times: ‘Are the police taking this issue seriously enough? It’s infuriating. I think the public feel that they aren’t and they’re not wrong.’

‘Do I fundamentally believe the police are on our side? Yes, absolutely they are. Can you trust the police? Yes you can. 

‘But there is an issue about how we handle sexual violence, domestic violence, the sensitivity, the diligence, the time, the delay, the confusion about your mobile phone. That’s the thing we need to fix.’

Only three per cent of rape cases reported to police last year resulted in a suspect being charged, a record low.

The government has pledged to reverse the decline and set itself a target of 13 per cent.

Earlier, Mr Johnson ordered the authorities to ‘come down hard’ on officers found guilty of misconduct as a watchdog investigates multiple serving cops for allegedly exchanging misogynistic, racist and vile messages in a WhatsApp group with Couzens.

It emerged last night that Wayne Couzens was named as a suspect in a sex offence 72 hours before he killed Sarah Everard

He said on Friday: ‘I do believe in the police. I do think that we can trust the police. And I think the police do a wonderful, wonderful job.’

He added that ‘hundreds of thousands’ of officers would be ‘absolutely heartsick’.

But he said the Government needed to get to the bottom of ‘what on earth’ happened to ensure nothing like it occurred again.

Ms Patel ordered police to take harassment and flashing more seriously and dismissed the idea that they were ‘low level crimes’.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the Home Secretary said forces have been given ample resources to treat all reports of crime adequately.

She said: ‘I would say to all women: give voice to these issues, please… There is something so corrosive in society if people think that it’s OK to harass women verbally, physically, and in an abusive way on the street.

‘I want women to have the confidence to call it out. I don’t see all of this as low level. I don’t want to see postcode lotteries around the country.

‘This is a very clear message to police to raise the bar: treat everybody in the right way.

‘Make sure that when these crimes or concerns are reported, people are treated with respect, dignity and seriously.’ 

Earlier, Ms Patel said those in power needed to come together to say that the current climate was ‘unacceptable’.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, she said: ‘I don’t just say this as Home Secretary. I think women have basically said that’s it – enough is enough.

‘This was a monster that absolutely abused power and authority and that’s an absolute scandal.’

Despite the concerns about the Met’s failings, Mr Johnson backed Dame Cressida though there are understood to be growing frustrations in the Home Office.

The PM said he wants to make sure women feel more confident in how their complaints will be handled going forward.

To add to the Met’s failings, it emerged last night that Couzens was named as a suspect in a sex offence 72 hours before he killed Sarah Everard.

CCTV evidence of a car involved in an alleged flashing incident at a drive-thru McDonald’s in February this year generated the name ‘Wayne Couzens’ as a suspect on Metropolitan Police systems – and provided his address.

But officers failed to realise he was a serving officer and further inquiries were not made until after Ms Everard’s disappearance on March 3. 

It had been known Couzens’ car was reported by staff at a McDonald’s restaurant in Swanley, Kent, after two female workers said they had been flashed by a motorist there on February 7 and again on February 27. The complaint was made on February 28.

But last night it emerged the CCTV evidence showing his number plate had actually brought up Couzens’ name as a suspect on Met police systems.

Yesterday a McDonald’s worker who was flashed by the sexual predator blasted officers for ‘not acting quickly enough’.

The worker, who did not want to be named, said: ‘The police took our statements and took away CCTV.

‘If they had taken this more seriously, they could easily have figured out that he was a policeman who had committed these crimes.

‘The police had three days to stop him but didn’t. It could have stopped him from doing a lot worse.’

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