The news that serving Met Police officer David Carrick has pleaded guilty to 49 sexual offences against women spanning more than two decades took me back to Leeds, 1981. My feminist group was aghast at the news that a young woman we knew had been raped in the back of a police van, but had been kicked out of the police station when she tried to report the crime – rather than being treated as a victim.
What has changed in the four decades since then? As a feminist campaigner who has worked alongside police officers to share knowledge and expertise regarding sexual assault and domestic abuse, I can’t help but wonder if we have gone backwards in recent years.
Carrick was on the same elite squad in the Met as Wayne Couzens and had access to a firearm. A number of women accused him of rape and domestic abuse over the years, but no action was taken. Carrick passed the vetting procedure to join the squad in 2001, despite two allegations against him.
In July 2021, Carrick was arrested for rape. The victim came forward shortly after Couzens admitted to the murder of Sarah Everard. Carrick was not suspended, and nor was his gun taken from him. He was instead placed on restricted duties. He continued to be a police officer and continued to offend.
Five members of the public had made allegations against him and his colleagues were well aware of his vile, misogynistic views towards women – hence his nickname, ‘Bastard Dave’. Carrick’s colleague, Couzens, was known as ‘The Rapist’ by other Met officers.
This behaviour has been allowed to exist and develop unchallenged within the Met – and the police service generally – for decades.