Revealed: London police forces have lowest proportion of female officers in England and Wales

The Metropolitan Police is under fire after it emerged Wayne Couzens used his power as a police officer to kidnap, rape and murder Sarah Everard.

London has the lowest proportion of female police officers of any region across England and Wales, it can be revealed.

Fewer than three in 10 officers in the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police are women.

Of all forces to fully submit their gender records, the City of London Police has the lowest proportion of women - at just 24.2%.

Out of the 859 officers that protect the square mile, 208 are female, according to Home Office data recorded in June this year.

The Metropolitan Police is the second lowest, with 29.2% of its officers female.

That is 10,056 women out of 33,651 officers.

Across London overall, 29.7% of officers were female - the lowest of any region in England and Wales.

Four years ago, the proportion of female officers at Scotland Yard was just 27%, however 37% of new recruits from 2020-21 were female.

Across England and Wales, the average proportion of female officers was just 33.3%.

The force with the highest proportion of officers was Cumbria Police, where more than two in five officers are women.

ONS figures from January show that 41% of the UK’s full-time workforce is made up of women.

Wayne Couzens was handed a whole life order for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.

Women’s Aid, a charity supporting female victims of violence, said recruiting more female officers could increase confidence in policing.

Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Earlier this year we were shocked by revelations from former female officers of just how pervasive sexism and misogyny are within the Met Police.

“We know that there are thousands of officers doing their best, but the Met must urgently work to eradicate this harmful culture which we know normalises violence against women and girls.

“This is particularly significant because we know that the Met is more male dominated than other police forces.

“We know from our work that women prefer to disclose violence and abuse to other women, and that they prefer to be supported by women.

“Addressing this gender disparity with specially trained female officers might encourage more women to report violence and abuse; it’s little wonder that fewer than one in five women actually report domestic abuse to the police.

“The Met must urgently reform the deep-seated inequalities and sexist attitudes that still exist across the force.

“A higher proportion of female police officers on its own won’t fix this – mandatory training across all levels in the police and a fundamental change in attitudes is needed.”

The officers allegedly shared “discriminatory” messages - including misogynistic content.

Questions are being asked as to whether Couzens - who was reportedly nicknamed “the rapist” - could have been stopped before he kidnapped and murdered Ms Everard.

Sarah Everard, originally from York, died in March after being subjected to rape, kidnap and strangulation by Met police officer Wayne Couzens. Photo: family handout

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating after Couzens allegedly exposing himself in a McDonald’s restaurant in south London on February 28, just three days before the murder and a similar indecent exposure claim in Kent in 2015.

Sue Fish, a former chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police, told Times Radio she believed all forces, including the Metropolitan Police, were institutionally misogynistic.

And the Met has come under fire for the safety advice it has since issued to women.

Jess Phillips, Labour’s shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, said: “The onus is on the Metropolitan Police to do better.”

The MP said confidence can only be restored “if we see the government and police forces starting to actually take violence against women and girls, and the complaints that women make day in, day out, seriously”.

“This is a conversation where women have been saying for some time, even before the death of Sarah Everard, that they don’t feel that they are trusted by the police when they speak up or that violence and crime against them is prioritised,” she added.

A spokesperson said: “Sisters Uncut do not believe the number of female officers will make a difference to how the public is treated, as all police officers are complicit in violence whether they are perpetrating it or silently watching it happen.

“The Met police is a boys club that perpetuates violence and bullying, not just of innocent citizens, but within its own force as clearly stated in a BBC piece that shows female officers are too scared to report their male counterparts.

“The advice coming out over the last 24 hours from the Met - run away from an officer, hail down a bus, call the police to check if the officer is real - show a complete internal distrust and an admission of violence.

“Any female officer able to put on a uniform this morning after everything that has happened is complicit in that violence, and is no sister of ours.”

The Metropolitan Police said that in March 2021, women accounted for 33.4% of the force’s total workforce and only 24.1% of police officers.

It said that the Commissioner’s ambition is for women to account for 50% of new police recruits from 2022.

Det Ch Supt Tara McGovern, chair of the Met’s Network of Women, said: “Every day, thousands of women across the Met are helping keep London safe by bringing their invaluable skills and individual life experience to the job.

“They are achieving exceptional things for the capital and policing, while gaining for themselves the immense personal satisfaction that comes from knowing they’ve genuinely made a difference to the lives of others in the course of their work day.

“The number of women police officers in the Met does not yet truly reflect female representation in the world outside policing, so we’ve made a wholehearted commitment to recruit more.

“We need more women to bring their skills and dedication to the job.

With every woman that joins us, the Met grows stronger, better and more representational of the communities it serves.

“Everyone who joins us as a police officer will receive ongoing, wide-ranging training throughout their career, to enable them to carry out the job with confidence. We’ll also work with officers to help them achieve their personal career aspirations.

“We know that many people have personal commitments to juggle with work, so we are proud to offer part-time and flexible working in some roles to enable more people to join the organisation.

“Officers often describe policing as a ‘family’ and that’s because it’s true, as I can vouch for after 23 years in policing myself. Like a real family, everyone is individual; brings something special to the table and supports one another, from day one of training to retirement and beyond.”

“There are so many women who have the potential to transform lives if they become a police officer. If you think this could be you, please visit our website for more information on joining the Met.”

The City of London Police has been contacted for comment.

Additional reporting: Alex Ross