Online Abuse Towards Police Officers: A Growing Concern

Online Abuse Towards Police Officers: A Growing Concern

Recently, Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley spoke out against the “horrendous personal, sexist, and homophobic” comments directed at newly-appointed assistant chief constable, Karen Findlay. This incident occurred when the announcement of her move from the Met to the British Transport Police (BTP) was met with a slew of online abuse, with many comments coming from anonymous accounts. Sir Mark Rowley expressed his anger and emphasized that such behavior is unacceptable and occurring far too frequently.

Reflecting on the broader issue of online abuse faced by police officers, Mr. Rowley highlighted the increasing intensity of racist, sexist, and homophobic attacks on social media platforms. He expressed concerns about how this trend might negatively impact efforts to attract officers from under-represented communities. The commissioner stressed that it is wholly unacceptable for those whose duty is to protect and serve others to face such vile and hateful abuse online.

In response to the abusive comments, Ms. Findlay herself condemned the “homophobic, sexist vileness” and called for her appointment to be judged based on her professional experience, contribution, and commitment. She reposted a statement from BTP’s chief constable Lucy D’Orsi, who expressed shock at the hateful responses to the announcement about Ms. Findlay’s appointment. Despite the disturbing nature of the replies, Ms. D’Orsi decided to leave the post up in order to draw attention to the misogyny that women in policing often endure.

Several other senior police officers also weighed in on the issue, expressing their solidarity with Ms. Findlay. Matt Jukes, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, called the misogyny prompted by the incident infuriating. Assistant commissioner Pippa Mills emphasized the wave of congratulations from colleagues as a testament to Karen’s reputation, dismissing the sexist and homophobic comments from anonymous accounts as unworthy of a response. College of Policing CEO Andy Marsh echoed the sentiment that the abusive comments towards Ms. Findlay are unacceptable.

Despite the outpouring of support for Ms. Findlay, some commentators criticized the defense put forth by the police forces. They deemed it embarrassing and called for the authorities to show more backbone in handling such incidents. Additionally, there were dismissive remarks about Ms. Findlay’s appointment being seen as merely box-ticking. However, it is important to note that Ms. Findlay’s extensive experience in policing, including overseeing significant events like the King’s coronation and the Queen’s funeral, as well as her role in the security operation for the 2012 Olympics, speaks to her qualifications and capabilities.

The incident involving online abuse towards assistant chief constable Karen Findlay sheds light on a larger issue of increasing online attacks against police officers. It is crucial for individuals on social media to reflect on their actions and treat law enforcement officers with the respect they deserve. As a society, we must work towards creating a safer online environment for all, free from prejudice, discrimination, and hate.


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