Monday, 13 January 2014

In which the Met has a woman problem

"Urgh, I keep being fobbed off."

"They might be useless, but they at least seem to take me seriously when I call them."

It was that brief exchange over breakfast a week or so before Christmas having called Brixton police station for the Nth time that crystallised what I'd been aware of at an abstract level for a while, but have only recently been able to put into words.

I think the Met has a woman problem: it doesn't seem to like us, and it sure as hell doesn't take us seriously.

In December I was assaulted. Mercifully - and, I believe, purely down to a combination of my own actions and blind luck – I was physically unharmed. The police, despite having caught and kept my assailant overnight at the station, are doing nothing about it.

In the call afterwards, they said that had "no evidence" to charge him, that it was "his word against mine", and the officer dealing with the case went on to say, "well, if you will live in Brixton."

I've since complained (at length: the wording of my complaint is here) about both the procedure as well as the conduct of the individual officer. The complaint is being investigated, but whether anything is actually addressed remains to be seen.

But it's not my isolated experience that's led me to this pretty sad conclusion.

One of my good friends went through the hideous experience of being attacked - far more seriously than I was. She was left hurt, both physically and psychologically, and her boyfriend ended up in hospital. She had no help from the police either.

The campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez has reported how she's making a complaint to the Met after they announced in a press release that they'd be charging two people who were abusing her online. They'd not told her - they'd told the media. Which tells you a lot about their priorities, and where victims lie in that list in relation to a shiny piece of press coverage.

This piece, which provides a pretty damning run-down of how 2013 went for the police (TL;DR: really fucking badly), notes that they failed to stop Jimmy Savile when they had the chance. A quick news search reveals a story about failings at the Met that resulted in a woman's rape. And the CPS earlier this year celebrated “record” prosecution rates for rape – at the same time that fewer than one victim in 30 being able to expect their attacker to go to jail.

I’m sure there are some great individual officers in the Met, just as there are anywhere. But those parts aren’t enough to convince me that there isn’t wider problem, and those parts don’t add up to a particularly cheering sum. 

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