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‘When Misconduct Means Nothing: Kristina O’Connor and the Met Police’

Gross misconduct still leads to minimal consequences – leaving officers who abuse with their rank and pension intact, writes Jamie Klingler

Stock photo of police officers. Photo: Alex Segre/Alamy

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If you have the desire to abuse women and are a white man is there a better job out there than becoming a Metropolitan Police officer? 

Over the weekend, we learned that Kristina O’Connor will not be able to bring a judicial review against the Met after it failed to fire her abuser – then detective sergeant James Mason. 

Mason sexually harassed O’Connor, in messages, after she was mugged in Camden. A disciplinary panel found him guilty of eight counts of gross misconduct.

O’Connor argued that the Met failed to properly investigate, after he was given a final warning but not dismissed. The High Court ruled against her bid for a judicial review as it found sufficient steps had been taken during the disciplinary process.

Why does it seem almost impossible to get fired from the Met Police for misconduct?

Nine in 10 officers found guilty of gross misconduct keep their jobs, while sexual misconduct cases are more likely to be dropped than theft or corruption. 

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Officers have unlimited access to women at their most vulnerable. Whistleblowing procedures aren’t routinely followed. The correlation between domestic violence and policing is often referenced but rarely is it said that some officers become officers specifically so that they can scare women into doing whatever they say. 

Police officers that want to hurt women know that the rape conviction rate for civilians is 1.7%, let alone someone holding a warrant card.  

The victims of David Carrick – a serving Met Police officer who was a serial rapist, jailed for life earlier this year – all told the same story, of him saying: I am a police officer and no one will believe you. He was right. And he would have continued if his brave victims hadn’t been relentless in wanting to stop other women from suffering in the way they did.

One of his victims went in to report him while Wayne Couzens— who was in Carrick’s unit – was awaiting sentencing for the murder of Sarah Everard. Their report was not escalated.  Carrick wasn’t suspended. None of the officers that discounted his victims were ever held accountable. 

This is the institutional misogyny that puts women in danger.  

It is true that not all, or even most, police officers want to hurt women. But, if a man craves the validation of power that a warrant card holds and knows that most women won’t bother reporting, it is a perfect situation for an exploitative predator to flourish.

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Officers know that, if the misconduct process (typically 400 days) is long enough, victims lose hope and give up.

All of this was exposed in the horrific Casey Review into the behaviour and internal culture in the Met.

By not recognising and removing serial predators, they are putting us in danger. In which other job can you get found guilty of eight counts of gross misconduct and keep your position and pension?

Kristina O’Connor only found out about other victims at the end of her hearing. How is that not crucial evidence? Why is James Mason considered more important than her?  

We need to be able to name our attackers, to protect other women, and stop the patterns of abuse. I stand in solidarity with Kristina O’Connor and all the victims she represents – whose assailants are still abusing women hiding behind a warrant card.  

Thank you for your service Kristina, it matters. 

Jamie Klingler is the co-founder of #reclaimthesestreets

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