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‘Predatory sexual behaviour and casual sexism’ tolerated in National Crime Agency, watchdog finds | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


“Predatory sexual behaviour” and casual sexism is tolerated in the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), a watchdog has found.

The body, sometimes described as Britain’s FBI, is responsible for the fight against organised crime and also leads large-scale investigations into grooming gangs and international paedophile rings.

Probing the NCA’s record on vetting and corruption for the first time since a wave of horrific criminal cases and damning reports into British policing, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary found examples of senior officers “with multiple allegations against them” being allowed to remain.

A report published on Thursday warned that “toxic male cultures” were being tolerated “because women are outnumbered and fear the stigma and repercussions of speaking out”.

The watchdog found that cases of “proven sexual misconduct” did not always result in sackings, adding: “We found examples of first written warnings being given for predatory sexual behaviour. We don’t support the rationale for this leniency.”

In other cases, men received written warnings for misconduct and then were allowed to return to the same team.

The report said that while junior NCA officers were usually suspended immediately if suspected of sexual misconduct, senior officers were not.

“We found examples of officers more senior than their victims, with multiple allegations against them, being moved to other departments,” it added. “This might, in part, explain the results of the staff and culture surveys and our interviews, all of which reveal a lack of confidence in reporting issues to senior managers.”

The report said that an undisclosed NCA unit had an “old boys’ network” where a member of staff alleged that if one of “their boys” was accused of improper behaviour, it would be “brushed under the carpet”.

A staff survey showed that women didn’t feel they would be protected if they reported prejudicial or improper behaviour, and 34 per cent of victims felt they had been punished for reporting.

More widely, the inspectorate found that “casual sexism was still tolerated” in the NCA, with women sometimes being given certain roles on operations because of their gender.

The report said women were still subject to sexist comments in the office and on informal WhatsApp groups, including some containing senior leaders.

“Worryingly, these individuals aren’t only failing to challenge poor behaviour – in some cases, they join in with it,” the watchdog warned.

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“There are pockets of bad behaviour across the organisation that are known to leaders and staff but haven’t been tackled. The teams and units where this poor behaviour occurs have been revealed in previous misconduct investigations, referred to in the culture and staff surveys, and are widely discussed among staff.”

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary made 19 recommendations on sexism, corruption and wider vetting issues, and called for action on “concerning examples of prejudicial and improper behaviour in some units and teams”.

It warned: “In many of the recent high-profile cases involving police officers, there has been an underlying tolerance of unacceptable behaviour, often badged as ‘just banter’. The agency must make sure that behaviours like these aren’t tolerated in its own ranks.”

The NCA said its own checks had found only one incident where a written warning had been issued for predatory sexual behaviour, rather than the multiple cases suggested by the inspectorate, and said steps were being taken to ensure it could not happen again.

It said guidance had been issued on messaging, and that a confidential reporting tool for staff to report concerns about colleagues would be created.

Graeme Biggar, director of the NCA, said: “The report finds that most of our officers are professional and our culture is generally positive and inclusive. But it also identifies pockets of bad behaviour and casual sexism, and that we have not provided the leadership to ensure they are tackled.

“These findings cause me deep discomfort, and I apologise to officers, particularly female officers, that we have let down, through the conduct of their colleagues, through our leadership, or through inconsistencies in our disciplinary outcomes.”

Mr Biggar, the former director for national security at the Home Office, said he was “determined to set high standards” and root out unacceptable behaviour.



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