Is political correctness behind the police’s failure?

 As each day passed with the trial of police officer Wayne Couzens, jailed for a whole life term for the horrific kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, it has become increasingly apparent that the Met and the UK police more broadly have a problem with institutional prejudice. Are the police in denial, and if so, why? Could it be that as a society we have become so politically correct that we can’t see what’s staring us in the face? My latest novel, Murder in the Manor, touches on the issue of homophobia in a remote part of Norfolk and also suggests that the police themselves may be homophobic. Not only some friends with whom I shared the first draft felt this couldn’t be stated in blanket terms, but also I had discussions about the issue with my publisher’s editors. People are tempted to believe the “one bad apple” theory. After all, aren’t there plenty safeguards within police procedures to keep us safe? Yet now it’s known that Couzens was part of a WhatsApp group which exchanged overtly abusive content, including jokes about violence against women, racist messages and information about Couzens’ prosecution. One of the officers now under investigation for gross misconduct is from Norfolk, where my crime novels are set. This is not just a London problem. My own research for Murder in the Manor threw up plenty anecdotal reports about racism, homophobia and misogyny in constabularies across the country. So how come the police authorities have been so slow to act against what is now being described as institutional prejudice? I suspect that it could it be the same political correctness that delayed the investigations into the sex trafficking of white girls in Rochdale and Rotherham because the perpetrators were overwhelmingly of Pakistani origin. So far the Met’s reaction has been far from satisfactory in the wake of the Sarah Everard killing. The Met chief, Cressida Dick, was right to say that Couzens has “brought shame” on the force. But her apologies are not enough. Couzens was clearly not a “rogue” officer. She must resign to allow a root and branch reform of the police force whose practices have left all women wary of the very people who are supposed to protect us.

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