PSOOL welcomes Cressida Dick’s resignation but women deceived into intimate sexual relationships by undercover officers are all too aware that this gesture solves nothing. The deep-rooted institutional sexism, racism, homophobia and corruption within the Metropolitan Police does not disappear by one person standing down.
Dick’s departure has, however, drawn public attention to some of the abuses committed by officers in the UK’s largest force. For those of us who have been campaigning for years to highlight police wrong doing, the appointment of a new Commissioner is an opportunity to make our voices heard and our demands as clear as possible.
The Met Police is in crisis. Its founding principle of policing by consent is predicated on a relationship of mutual trust with the public. The reports of institutional sexism, misogyny, homophobia and racism have eroded public confidence to such a degree that for many communities trust was replaced by suspicion and fear a long time ago.
If the incoming Commissioner is to have any credibility with women like us, we need to see a recognition of the institutional sexism and misogyny in the organisation and have our demands met. Specifically, we want to see our files.
Some of us began litigation with the police in 2011; the public inquiry began in 2015. Despite almost a decade of demanding disclosure, we have received nothing. If the new Commissioner wants to build public trust, they can start by announcing a change in attitude towards the core participants in the public inquiry into undercover policing. To illustrate the institution’s fresh start, it can reframe the inquiry as an opportunity for truth and reconciliation. What better way to start than to give us our files?