Vile and misogynistic abuse of top female police officer shines light on toxic culture facing women

18 February 2024, 09:50 | Updated: 18 February 2024, 10:13

Abuse of top female police officer shines light on toxic culture facing women in force, writes Fraser Knight
Abuse of top female police officer shines light on toxic culture facing women in force, writes Fraser Knight. Picture: LBC/Alamy
Fraser Knight

By Fraser Knight

On the week of the King’s Coronation, Met Police Commander Karen Findlay met with reporters to tell us about all the plans she and her team had put in place to make sure it ran smoothly.

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Our briefing started at 11am – and she opened by making clear that she had been working all night, watching the dress rehearsal, and hadn’t slept.

But it didn’t stop her. Karen Findlay still wanted to speak to us about what would be one of the biggest events, and therefore, policing operations the country had seen in modern history.

And she did it with a smile and a sense of humour.

With more than 30 years’ experience, Karen Findlay’s policing colleagues who I’ve spoken to have nothing but praise for her.

But when the British Transport Police announced on Friday that she would be joining them as their new Assistant Chief Constable, what should’ve been a moment of celebration turned into one of hate and abuse.

Police officers – especially senior ones – know that they will be heavily scrutinised, often in a very public way. And indeed, I and LBC have asked our fair share of pressing questions, including of Karen Findlay.

But the sexist and homophobic bile that has followed this announcement on social media is beyond belief.

The Met Police has of course found itself embroiled in a scandal of being labelled institutionally misogynistic and homophobic, with a series of reforms now being implemented by the leadership team.

But it’s clear that the officers on the front line are facing the brunt of the same abuse their organisation is accused of.

And we all have a responsibility for stopping it.

Policing needs more women to build confidence and trust among the public, but scrolling through the comments under the BTP’s announcement on X makes you question why anyone would want to join the ranks.

Karen Findlay herself said: “Our professional experience, contribution and commitment should be the focus. NOT the vile misogynistic, homophobic, sexist vileness experienced. It’s not ok.”

While her current boss, Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, hit out hard at the abuse directed at his officers more widely, saying: “At a time when we need to attract officers from under-represented parts of our communities, this is hugely damaging.”

The success of women, regardless of what career they’re in, needs to be celebrated without a backhand. Without abuse.

And if we don’t call it out, we become part of the problem.

Police have a duty to keep us safe. We have a duty to do better.


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