London police hit by new 'offensive' messages scandal
Three officers have been accused of sending obscene texts over a public network.
Prosecutors charged three London police officers on Thursday with sending "grossly insulting" tweets, the latest scandal to hammer the UK capital's tainted force.
The texts were shared in a WhatsApp group chat with former officer Wayne Couzens, who was sentenced to life in prison last year for the rape and murder of 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard, according to reports.
The Metropolitan Police Service has been thrown into disarray as a result of a series of issues, including Couzens' conviction, which prompted its chief, Cressida Dick, to resign last week.
Between April and August 2019, two current policemen and one former colleague are accused of sharing allegedly racist and misogynistic communications.
After the Metropolitan Police Service referred the case to the Independent Office for Police Conduct for inquiry, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) charged the three.
In December, the watchdog handed prosecutors a file of evidence for evaluation, bringing the investigation to a close.
"The CPS has authorized charges against two serving Metropolitan Police officers and one former officer," Rosemary Ainslie, head of the CPS's Special Crime Division, said.
"Each of the three defendants has been charged with sending grossly offensive messages on a public communications network," she added. The trio will appear in court for a hearing on March 16.
The Met has been engulfed in a series of scandals ranging from racism and misogyny to alleged corruption.
Officers in one city center station wrote each other "shocking" racist, sexist, and homophobic messages, according to the police watchdog. London mayor Sadiq Khan said earlier this month that he was "utterly disgusted".
The force was already grieving from the rape and murder of Everard, who was kidnapped and murdered in March 2021 by then-police officer Couzens after he falsely arrested her for violating coronavirus limits.
A week ago, London's police chief Cressida Dick announced she is stepping down following a string of scandals of police misconduct involving racism, sexism, and the murder of a young woman by a London police officer.
This came after an official report from England's police watchdog, which stated that London police officers routinely made jokes about rape and exchanged racist messages, detailing a pattern of misogyny and bullying in the force, the latest blow to an embattled service that has faced intense scrutiny in recent months.
The findings reflected a troubling culture within the London Metropolitan Police Service, according to the report released by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, the police watchdog, which detailed the incidents were not isolated or the work of a few "bad apples".