‘Vile, nasty and homophobic’ online abuse of new ACC condemned by forces

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has condemned the “horrendous personal, sexist and homophobic” online comments that followed the appointment of Commander Karen Findlay as the new assistant chief constable of British Transport Police (BTP).

Feb 19, 2024
By Paul Jacques
Commander Karen Findlay

Sir Mark Rowley said the “vile and hateful abuse” on X (formerly Twitter) was “not acceptable” and is happening too often.

BTP confirmed the appointment of the MPS commander as its new assistant chief constable in a post on X on Friday (February 16).

BTP’s Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi said she was “shocked” to see how many people took the post as an opportunity to respond with “vile, nasty and homophobic messages”.

Sir Mark said the appointment was “a huge professional achievement for Karen and anyone who knows her or who has worked with her will recognise how well deserved it is.”

“Whilst she has rightly received many congratulations, the X post announcing her appointment has also been targeted by online trolls, many anonymous, making horrendous personal sexist and homophobic comments,” he said.

“I am angry. My colleagues are angry. It isn’t acceptable and it’s happening too often.”

Sir Mark added: “The intensity of the racist, sexist, and homophobic abuse directed at police officers on social media is increasing alarmingly. At a time when we need to attract officers from under-represented parts of our communities this is hugely damaging.

“Just in recent weeks we’ve seen officers become the victim of social media pile-ons for being from Eastern Europe or for appearing to be Muslim.

“We don’t have to look back far to see really prominent examples from across the country of female officers having their appearance, their hairstyles, their clothing or their perceived sexuality become the subject of ridicule or personal cruelty.

“Police officers accept that their actions on duty will be scrutinised, sometimes in a very public way.

“But it is wholly unacceptable that those whose profession is to protect and serve others increasingly face such intrusive, vile and hateful abuse.

“We will offer Karen the support she needs. We will do the same for those other officers who have been targeted. But I urge people on social media to reflect on their actions. My colleagues deserve better.”

In a statement, Ms D’Orsi said: “I have been shocked to see how many people took our post, which was celebrating the appointment of a senior woman in policing, as an opportunity to respond with vile, nasty, and homophobic messages.

“Karen is an exceptional leader and public order commander with over 30 years of experience – I am disappointed her achievements aren’t the focus of the conversation. Although I am disgusted by the replies, I have decided to leave the post up to spotlight the misogyny that women in policing continue to face. But ignoring it would not reflect my values or the values of the force.

“In policing, we understand the value of public scrutiny; we welcome conversations about policing, actions, and how we can improve. But let me be clear, I will not accept bullying.”

As temporary commander at the MPS, Ms Findlay had responsibility for major events, including sporting, ceremonial and protest activity, public order policing, emergency preparedness, business continuity and resourcing for the service.

Prior to that, Commander Findlay undertook roles as head of operations for the National Police Operations Coordination Centre, and secondments to the Police Service of Northern Ireland and South Wales Police to oversee and support national event delivery.

In the New Year Honours list, Commander Findlay was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order, as well as receiving the King’s Police Medal.

British Transport Police Federation said it was pleased to welcome Ms Findlay as the force’s new assistant chief constable and looked forward to working with her, adding: “Very experienced in public order and major events policing, Commander Findlay led the Met through the policing operations for Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral and the King’s Coronation.”

She is expected to take up her post in June.

Related News

Select Vacancies

Chief of Police

Gibraltar Defence Police

Assistant Chief Constables

Scottish Police Authority

Constables on Promotion to Sergeant

Greater Manchester Police

Copyright © 2024 Police Professional