Disabled campaigners have criticised a review of standards in the Metropolitan police for failing to conclude that the force is institutionally disablist, and then refusing to explain that decision.
Baroness Casey’s review of the force’s culture and standards found one in three (33 per cent) disabled members of staff had experienced bullying, while she found there were 358 employment tribunal claims related to disability discrimination brought against the Met between 2017-18 and 2021-22.
Her review described the number of disability-related tribunal claims – which compared with 219 related to race and 131 related to sex discrimination – as “striking”.
And she found that eight per cent of staff grievances related to disability discrimination, compared with six per cent related to race and three per cent linked to sex discrimination.
But despite the apparent weight of evidence of disability discrimination across the force, Baroness Casey concluded that the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic, but not that it was institutionally disablist.
When Disability News Service asked why there was no finding of institutional disablism, bearing in mind the evidence within the report, a spokesperson for the review pointed to some of the references to disability discrimination in the report, and added: “I’m afraid we won’t be providing further quotes or commentary.”
An autistic detective in the Met who was bullied out of her dream job by the “toxic and discriminatory” actions of her managers told DNS last week that she believed the Met was a disablist institution.
This week, disabled campaigners criticised the review’s failure to condemn the Met’s “rampant institutional disablism”.
Louise Holden, a member of the Met’s disability independent advisory group (DIAG) and Inclusion London’s hate crime partnership project manager, said: “Once again, even with clear evidence of institutional disablism, it is not called out for what it is by this review, or in the mainstream media.
“Why are institutions so scared to call out all forms of prejudice; why focus on some and not others?
“It sends a clear message that disablism is not as important.
“I can’t imagine how it must feel to the disabled police officers in the Met who gave their personal experiences to know that it has been ignored as a priority yet again.”
She added: “I want to know that I am valued and respected as a disabled member of the DIAG, not there as a tick box exercise.
“I want to support the police officers I know in the Met who really want to make a difference and make the changes needed, to regain the trust of disabled Londoners.
“We are calling on MOPAC [the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime] and the MPS to set up disability leads who work across all workstreams, to make sure issues relating to systemic disablism are taken on as part of a whole system change to root out all forms of prejudice, bias and abuse.”
The grassroots, user-led mental health group Recovery in the Bin said: “We think the Casey Review exposed its own ableism by failing to properly identify and condemn the Met’s rampant institutional disablism.”
Dr David Wilkin, an honorary fellow at the University of Leicester’s School of Criminology, author of a book on disability hate crime on public transport and a coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network, said the Casey report was “a missed opportunity” as “the use of the term would have shone a more powerful light on a potential problem”.
He said: “What would however have been helpful is telling us why it was not mentioned.
“If they didn’t find institutional disablism, tell us. If they did find it, but were unable to reveal this, tell us why.
“What they have done therefore is to devalue institutional disablism within the police by citing that issues occur, without elevating them to an ‘institutional’ footing.
“This leaves the phenomenon as somewhat lesser in importance than the other biases.”
Anne Novis, a former DIAG chair, former chair of Inclusion London, and a long-time campaigner on disability hate crime, was another to criticise the review’s failure to conclude the Met was institutionally disablist.
She said: “Due to lack of awareness and recognition of how they should be working with Deaf and disabled people, including staff, the Met is institutionally disablist.
“Mainly because they do not integrate and sustain all the work of Deaf and disabled people who are advising them.
“Whilst I acknowledge it’s difficult for such a large institution, that’s no excuse, they have had input for many years, from Deaf and disabled people, yet the same negative attitudes and barriers continue.”
She added: “There is an ingrained expectation of physical fitness within all police services.
“Even when a member of staff becomes disabled by work-related injuries, or stress on mental health, they do find negative attitudes.
“There is a lack of understanding that enforces a medical model approach rather than the social model.
“Therefore, it’s down to the disabled person to prove themselves able, rather than the police service identifying the barriers that disable staff and service-users.”
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