Toxic Culture and Sexual Misconduct Rampant in the NCA and Police Forces

Photo Credits: Jonathan Harrison via Unsplash

Last week, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) released a report assessing how the National Crime Agency (NCA) deals with corruption. This was one part of a two-part investigation that looked into the behaviours of workers and leaders in the organisation, most of which were often improper.

In their investigation, they found that while there was a generally positive and inclusive culture in the NCA, there have been instances of improper or prejudicial behaviour. This was particularly in cases involving sexual misconduct where there has been inconsistency in decision-making. Additionally, there were instances where there have been inconsistent standards of behaviour by senior leaders.

Unacceptable Behaviour in High-Profile Cases

The report mentions how there have been cases where police officers have demonstrated improper behaviour. They said that the examples they found of such behaviour were “concerning”. The report says, “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.”

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The report also pointed out how the NCA claims that “diversity is one of their greatest strengths”. However, in 2021, only 12.2% of NCA staff were Black, Asian or from ethnic minorities. In addition to that, less than half (43.2%) of the staff were women, making the NCA a male-dominated organisation.

And while the NCA has an Inclusion Culture Strategy, that promises to break barriers and commit to the community, it is still at an early stage. As of yet, there are no specific action plans for gender or ethnicity representation. The NCA must come up with an action plan to tackle the gender-based discrimination and casual sexism that are still present.

The HMICFRS report tells us not just about the instances that show bad behaviour but the also fact that it is often not dealt with appropriately.  

Women in the NCA informed the HMICFRS that they wanted to change roles so they can step away from the “male culture”. According to the report, this has come about because senior men in the organisation are not being reprimanded despite multiple instances of unwarranted comments and sexualised comments.

Some people even admitted that one of their locations has an “old boys network” and if anyone from that network is accused of improper behaviour, it is “brushed under the carpet”.

NCA has a Strong Sense of Purpose

The NCA has miles to go before it can fully tackle internal corruption, misogynistic behaviour and misconduct, but it is not all bad. The report says that the HMICFRS is particularly pleased with the IPS department, which is responsible for safeguarding the public, as they are tremendously committed to tackling corruption. Moreover, the creation of the IPS department has improved internal communication.

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HMICFRS in their report have offered 19 recommendations to the NCA, some of which include:

  1. Defining standards of expected behaviour
  2. Creating a record of all grievances and misconduct matters
  3. Publicise their “compromising individual’s policy” to all staff members and offer them a better understanding of how to notify line managers.
  4. Produce accurate data that breaks down the workforce by age, gender, ethnicity etc
  5. Adopt HMICFRS’ definition of “misogynistic and predatory behaviour” to set standards or come up with a similar alternative

The report concludes by stating that senior leaders need to not only set standards but also lead by example. It is only then that the message for better work culture, especially for women and ethnic minorities, will be conveyed to all units and teams.


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