After years of shocking revelations, London policing really needs to change

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Protestants outside the courtroom in the case against police officer David Carrick
NOS News
  • Fleur Launspach

    UK and Ireland correspondent

A number of shocking scandals within the London police force are causing great commotion in the United Kingdom. Police officers who abuse and rape women appear to be able to hide within the ranks of the police for years. Many believe that this needs to change now.

Barely two years after a police officer was found guilty of the murder and rape of Sarah Everard, former cop David Carrick was sentenced this month to a minimum of 30 years in prison. He pleaded guilty to 24 rapes and was convicted of at least 50 felonies, including harassment and rape.

‘He used his uniform’

“He wasn’t just a horrible man, he used his uniform and position of power to entrap his victims!” enraged activist Patsy Stevenson said of Carrick’s case. “The police force received several complaints about his behavior, but he was still able to do his thing for decades. And nobody noticed? I don’t believe that,” said Stevenson.

In 2021 she became a familiar face because she was handcuffed by the police at a meeting for Sarah Everard. Images in which the young woman with bright red hair and a determined face was beaten to the ground by an army of male police officers appeared in all British newspapers.

A British police car

It only further fueled national anger. Women massively shared their experiences about harassment and danger on the street. The police promised improvement and politicians tumbled over each other to make violence against women a top priority.

“We all thought it would be a tipping point,” says Patsy Stevenson. “That there would be no more ‘bad apples’ walking around in uniform. And yet new cases of sexual misconduct keep coming out. How many more are there?”

Carrick, the 48-year-old cop who was sentenced this month, kept one of his victims trapped in a small closet under his stairs. He had a long track record in an elite London unit, and despite multiple screenings, he was able to commit crimes for decades. Carrick will go down as one of the worst sex offenders in modern British history.

‘The bastard’ and ‘the rapist’

There were also new revelations in the Everard case last week. The perpetrator, former police officer Wayne Couzens, confessed to three instances of indecent exposure in the months before kidnapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard.

Both Couzens and Carrick showed misconduct against women, but still passed the police checks. Colleagues even gave them nicknames: David Carrick “the bastard” and Wayne Couzins “the rapist”. Between 2000 and 2021, the police received complaints about nine incidents where nothing was done in the force. The women who accused Carrick eventually withdrew their complaint.

The incoming Chief of Police Mark Rowley (r) with King Charles

Several internal investigations have been launched under newly appointed police chief Mark Rowley. Rowley is reviewing some 1,000 sexual and domestic violence complaints against 800 of his officers. He expects “two or three” officers to stand trial for sex crimes and violence against women every week in the coming months.

“I have tens of thousands of officers who do a fantastic job every day, but unfortunately also a few hundred who shouldn’t be walking around in uniform. I’m going to straighten that out.”

The results of an external study, led by Lady Louise Casey, are due to be published at any time. This baroness does not hide her opinion on misogyny and corruption in the police. In her view, thorough reforms are needed to eradicate misconduct within the service.

Tip of the iceberg

According to activists, these shocking police cases are just the tip of the iceberg of the country’s daily violence between men and women. Figures from the British Bureau of Statistics show that the number of women killed by male violence has risen by a quarter in the aftermath of the corona crisis.

In England and Wales, about two to three women are murdered every week by their partner or ex-partner. One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. And as for rape cases, only 1% of reported rapes in the UK currently lead to a conviction.

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