UK

Met Police to overhaul recruitment to ‘weed out’ homophobes amid intensifying backlash

Lily Wakefield March 3, 2022
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Met Police recruits take part in a parade at the end of their training

Met Police recruits take part in a parade at the end of their training. (Getty/ Chris J Ratcliffe)

The Metropolitan Police is reportedly reviewing its recruitment processes to “weed out” homophobes after months of backlash over discrimination within its ranks.

The Met has faced severe criticism in recent months, after inquests found that police failings “probably” contributed to the deaths of gay men brutally murdered by serial killer Stephen Port in 2014 and 2015.

Following a years-long investigation, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) published its Operation Hotton learning report last month, which evidenced extensive racist, homophobic and misogynistic discrimination and harassment by Met Police officers.

Chief inspector Declan Halton-Woodward, a gay man and communications lead for the Met’s LGBT+ staff network, told MyLondon that he had seen a “dip” in the confidence of the Met’s LGBT+ employees since the report’s publication and the inquests, but said: “The Met is a different organisation now to the time of the Stephen Port murders.”

However, IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said last month that issues of discrimination within the Met “are not isolated or historic”, and added: “The MPS has to enjoy the trust and confidence of its own officers from diverse communities before it can hope to bridge the gap in trust and confidence with the communities it serves.”

Halton-Woodward insisted the force is making changes to do just that.

The Met Police are now reviewing recruitment interview questions to “weed out” bigots and homophobes, he said.

He explained: “We’re looking at how recruitment can weed out people more likely to breach the standards of professional behaviour, including homophobia.

“That includes interview questions. We’re trying to draw out their values, and issues in their past that might make them more homophobic.”

Halton-Woodward added: “Officers are all getting briefed on how to be actively anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic. You cannot understate the impact [Operation Hotton] has had. We are working on a really robust reporting framework internally.”

The Met Police is also reviewing its uniform policies to make life easier for openly trans police officers – it currently has four out of more than 33,000 officers.

Under current policy, it is up to managers to dictate whether officers wear “male” or “female” uniforms, meaning trans officers are forced to come out to their boss if they want to wear uniform that aligns with their gender.

A Met Police spokesperson told MyLondon: “The Met’s contract with its current uniform provider is due to expire in 2023. Before agreeing a new contract with a supplier, the Met is considering what it requires of its uniforms in the future to ensure officers are best able to carry out their job, while continuing to adhere to equality law.

“In the very early stages of that work, the Met is seeking the views of police officers and staff who have a wide range of protected characteristics, including those who identify as non-binary or gender fluid.

“This important and valued feedback will be taken into consideration before a new contract with a supplier is agreed.”

More: Cressida Dick, Homophobia, London, Metropolitan Police, Stephen Port

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