The Independent Office for Police Conduct’s regional director for London said a lack of supervision from senior officers in the Metropolitan Police allowed a “really, really toxic culture” to “grow and ultimately fester”.
Sal Naseem told LBC that the watchdog’s investigations were instead spurred on by victims who came forward despite “fear of reprisal” to share examples of “the worst kind of discrimination you can possibly imagine”.
He said the comments were often dismissed as “canteen culture” and that “when some officers tried to raise concerns they weren’t heard”.
“We wanted to lift the lid and demonstrate to the public and to serving police officers what canteen culture actually looks like,” he said.
“It was actually victims that started coming forward, and that one independent investigation mushroomed into nine separate independent investigations.”
He added: “What we found… was actually a lack of supervision. That was a contributory factor to how this sort of really, really toxic culture was allowed to grow and ultimately fester.”
His statement comes as Home Secretary Priti Patel has told the Commons Home Affairs Committee that there have been too many instances of appalling conduct within London’s Metropolitan Police.
“We have seen now too many times, too many instances where in policing, we just see … the most appalling behaviours, the most appalling conduct,” Ms Patel said, adding that she would not rule out holding further inquiries into policing conduct.
IOPC seeking to challenge ‘culture’ in the force
Mr Naseem’s comments come a day after the IOPC released a report showing an officer who joked about raping women at knifepoint was allowed to keep his job – while two others sacked for sharing misogynistic, homophobic and racist messages were granted anonymity by the force.
Sources close to Sadiq Khan said he was “furious” at the report, which found that a group of 14 officers based at Charing Cross police station shared dozens of vile exchanges on social media.
Mr Khan is understood to believe the findings further damage public confidence in the beleaguered force in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard and amid the row over the police’s handling of Downing Street “partygate” allegations.
Sal Naseem has also said the two Metropolitan Police officers sacked over racist and misogynistic messages were the “worst perpetrators” but did not confirm whether any others responsible for the comments are still serving.
Sal Naseem told Good Morning Britain: “What I do know is that there were nine investigations here. The two officers who were sacked for gross misconduct were the worst perpetrators of some of these exchanges.”
He added that there is a wider problem of “culture” within the force which the IOPC is seeking to challenge.
He said the watchdog is making 15 recommendations to the Met addressing the issue.