Former Met cop says female officers too scared of violence to report force misconduct

Ms Sandhu’s comments come as the Metropolitan Police stands accused of failing to spot that killer cop Wayne Couzens was a risk to women, despite reportedly being nicknamed ‘The Rapist’ by colleagues.

A former Met policewoman says female officers don’t always report suspicious behaviour of male colleagues because they “close ranks” and you risk being left to have your head kicked in on duty if you call for help.

Two years after leaving the Metropolitan Police, Parm Sandhu, who rose to the rank of Chief Superintendent during her 30 years as a policewoman, has spoken of a “very sexist” and “mysogynistic” culture within the force.

It comes after police officer Wayne Couzens was sentenced to life in prison for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard .

The Met stands accused of failing to spot that the former firearms officer was a risk to women, despite flashing allegations and reportedly being nicknamed ‘The Rapist’ by colleagues.

Speaking to Sarah Montague on BBC World at One, Ms Sandhu said a lot of female officers “will not report their colleagues” if they witness or hear of suspicious conduct.

“Unfortunately the majority of police officers are male, and it’s put down to banter and it’s put down to ‘oh you can’t take a joke’,” she said.

Asked by Montague if she had experienced anything that should have been reported, Ms Sandhu said she had, but had typically dealt with it herself.

On the one occasion she had reported such an incident, Ms Sandhu said she was “vilified”.

“What happens is, the male police officers will then close ranks, and the fear that most women police officers have got, is that when you’re calling for help, you press that emergency button on your radio and they’re not going to turn up and you’re going to get kicked in the street.”

“So you’ve got to be very careful to weigh which battles you’re going to fight and which ones you can win.”

Asked if we should trust the police, Ms Sandhu said “we need to”.

“We do need to trust the police, and we do need to rebuild the trust that we’ve lost with this incident, with this tragic murder,” she continued.

“I think that women would hesitate now to get into a car with a lone police officer who is not in uniform.”

Ms Sandhu said she had fielded calls from women all morning, who were predominantly asking her for suggestions on how to act if they were stopped by a lone police officer.

“My advice is – and I’ve said this to my own family members – if you’re stopped by a lone police officer, comply, check that they’ve got body warrant video and if you’re unhappy, go and phone 999 and say ‘I’m unhappy and I feel scared’,” Ms Sandhu said.

“Do not get into a car unless it’s a marked police vehicle and insist on them calling another officer or transport so that you can get into a marked police vehicle.”

Ms Sandhu pointed out that while officers couldn’t not arrest women who were on their own and committing crimes, the situation now needed “extra caution” so that women felt secure whatever situation they may be in.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cressida Dick is facing calls to quit after Couzens’ sentencing.

Harriet Harman, the country’s longest serving female MP, is one of those calling for Dame Cressida to step aside, to allow changes to be made under new leadership.

Dame Cressida said Couzens “has brought shame” on the Met Police and “eroded” public confidence in the police.

She said: “There are no words that can fully express the fury and overwhelming sadness that we all feel about what happened to Sarah. I am so sorry.”

Ms Sandhu echoed Ms Harman’s sentiment during her interview with BBC World at One and said there was a need for a “fresh set of eyes” and a “complete overhaul and review of vetting procedures”.

“What’s happened in the last few years is we needed to recruit 20,000 people and the vetting has let us down,” she said.

“We have not vetted the individuals that are coming in.”

Ms Sandhu said the changes were not just needed in the Met, but right across the country.

“I personally haven’t got the trust in the commissioner to make those necessary changes. I think she’s done as good a job as she can but she cannot move with the times. She needs to go so that we can get a new person in.”