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Friend of Tortoise Exclusive

The banter backlash: is ‘political correctness’ holding back police reform?

The banter backlash: is ‘political correctness’ holding back police reform?

This event is exclusive to Friends of Tortoise

This is a digital-only ThinkIn.

Dame Cressida Dick described Sarah Everard’s killer as a ‘bad apple’, but he is far from the only officer found to have been sharing discriminatory, misogynistic and graphic content in Whatsapp and private facebook groups. The soon-to-be-former Met Commissioner wrote to all of her 43,000 officers demanding they do not stand by when they witness bad behaviour. London Mayor Sadiq Khan was not satisfied with the response, claiming no confidence in her leadership, in turn leaving the Commissioner “no choice” but to resign.

On the other hand, some police insiders have taken to social media to express real concern that the intense focus on misogyny in policing is counterproductive. They suggest that some police leaders’ newfound anti-sexist stance is heavy-handed, sanctimonious and hypocritical. 

Some insist that ‘banter’ is a harmless and critical part of police culture, and others simply object to yet another set of guidelines over what is and isn’t OK to say. Who’s right? Could it be that where major efforts to shift police cultural norms around sexist behaviour exist, they could be making things worse?

This ThinkIn is part of Tortoise Investigates: Police and Misogyny. A year-long collaboration between Tortoise reporters and members, this project seeks to explore the way police culture consistently permits the failure to prosecute, and sometimes even to investigate, sexual and violent crime against women and girls.

If you have an experience to share that would help our investigation, on or off the record, please contact liz@tortoisemedia.com.

editor and invited experts

Liz Moseley

Graham Goulden
Former Chief Inspector, Scottish Violence Reduction Unit