Sexual misconduct by police officers has prompted outrage across Britain and led to increasing skepticism that departments can investigate or discipline employees who abuse women.
James Mason was on duty in a North London police station when a young woman came in to report that she had just been mugged on a city street. Already shaken, the woman became even more unnerved by Mr. Mason’s questions: What clothes did she wear to work? Did she have a boyfriend? Would she like to go to dinner?
When she contacted him asking for case updates, he continued to aggressively pursue her. And when she told him he was out of line, he replied in an email, “Actually, coming on to victims is positively encouraged,” adding: “It’s all part of the friendly and accessible face of the Met Police. It’s the rejection that’s frowned upon.”
Mr. Mason would rise through the ranks of London’s Metropolitan Police Service, eventually becoming a detective chief inspector, while the young woman remained silent about the 2011 episode, saying in an interview that she did not feel empowered to come forward until last year, the New York Times reports.
At a disciplinary hearing last month, in which the woman was granted anonymity, Mr. Mason was found to have engaged in gross misconduct for abusing his power as an officer for a sexual purpose. Rather than being dismissed, though, Mr. Mason was given a final written warning this month, a ruling that shocked his victim but reflected what criminal justice experts describe as a systemic failing within Britain’s police forces as they struggle to control or discipline employees who abuse women.
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