14th March 2023

Any act of violence is a disgrace. But violent acts are particularly harmful when perpetrated by people who have additional responsibilities to keep the public safe.

In light of the sentencing of Sarah Everard's murderer for indecent exposure, and a spate of stories about violence in the Metropolitan Police, The Fawcett Society, along with our partners the Runnymede Trust, Muslim Women's Network UK and Agenda Alliance, have written to Sir Mark Rowley, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

We welcome the Met Police's commitment to rebuilding trust with women and Black and minoritised communities and believe that as a coalition of women's organisations and race equality charities, we can offer insights on how to embed the voices of diverse groups of women into policy design and action planning. 

Read the letter in full below. 

9th March 2023

Dear Commissioner Rowley,

The sentencing of former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens this week has been heart-breaking to watch – we are reminded yet again of the life of Sarah Everard that could have been saved if not for the institutional failures of the organisation that was meant to protect her. We know this is just the tip of the iceberg for women, people of colour and LGBTQ+ communities who are failed by policing at every level of their interaction, as has been highlighted by Dame Casey in her interim report and brought into sharp focus by the treatment of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, amongst many other cases recently.

We have read your plan for transforming the Metropolitan Police, and your response to the interim findings of the Casey review with interest. We welcome your commitment to rebuilding trust with women and Black and minoritised communities.

We are writing to you as a coalition of women’s organisations and race equality charities – in the week of International Women’s Day – to request a meeting with you to discuss that plan as you develop it, and to offer our insights on how you can embed the voices of diverse groups of women into your policy design and action planning.

We believe that without a greater focus on the specific experiences of women and their range of interactions with the Metropolitan police, alongside giving this activity your highest priority, it will be extremely difficult to achieve the changes that you have proposed to make. We hope that there is indeed a detailed plan in production which will centre the experiences of women and minoritised communities both working in, and being served by, the Metropolitan police, and which will allow us to understand your process and hold you to account on it.

We are particularly interested in ensuring that the Metropolitan police recognises the institutional nature of the problem and responds with serious institutional solutions, and does not just treat this as an exercise in holding individuals to account. We know that there are no quick fixes, and that the deep-seated nature of the issues will take sustained engagement and commitment over the long term.

It is absolutely crucial that recent media attention translates to real change in the way that the Metropolitan Police responds to violence against women. This must include transforming the cultures that shape how it interacts with women, including those within the institution itself, and especially minoritised women. This is particularly important as often this group of women is less likely to attract sympathetic media attention and yet experiences greater forms of institutional neglect and discrimination.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you how you plan to give London’s diverse communities more confidence in their policing, and how we can ensure that the lived experiences of women and communities lie at the heart of your plans.

Yours faithfully,

Jemima Olchawski, Chief Executive, The Fawcett Society

Shabna Begum, Head of Research, The Runnymede Trust

Baroness Shaista Gohir OBE, CEO, Muslim Women’s Network UK

Indy Cross, CEO, Agenda Alliance