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British Transport Police chief constable: “We are creating a hostile work environment for predators”

Lucy D’Orsi, chief constable of British Transport Police (BTP) said she wants to create a company culture that is hostile to predators and abuse of power.

Speaking at the CIPD’s 2023 Festival of Work conference D’Orsi said: “We are creating a hostile environment for people who don't share our values. We don’t want to attract people who get into policing for the wrong reasons.” 

D’Orsi said she was deeply troubled by recent instances of criminal behaviour from officers in the Metropolitan Police, where she was formerly the deputy assistant commissioner. 

She said: “Both Wayne Couzens, a murderer, and David Carrick, a serial rapist, were in commands I led. I often look in the mirror and think, ‘is there something I could have done differently?’ 

“That’s why I don’t apologise for wanting to be against people who are predatory or want to abuse their power.” 

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One of the ways D’Orsi is doing this is by encouraging people to call out bad behaviour. 

“People need to know ‘if I behave like this, someone's going to report me’. And we’ve seen a real increase in internal reporting, which is brilliant,” she said. 

She also emphasised the importance of transparency in instances of malpractice. 

 “We have to stop being soft in our language about this,” she said. “In the past we would say someone was ‘dismissed for inappropriate language’. Now we’ll say – both internally and externally – exactly what they said.  

“We don’t want to give people anything to hide behind.” 

D’Orsi said police forces also have to be mindful of the nature of the profession when they are recruiting staff. 

She said: “Candidates do need thorough vetting, but we also need to put off anyone who is coming into policing for the wrong reasons. 

“Our interview process really questions people’s values and reasons for joining the force. We can teach people the legislation they need to enforce, but really, we can’t teach them to have the mindset and attitude we’re looking for.” 

She also emphasised the importance of recruiting diverse candidates who reflect the communities they serve. 

“Traditionally policing has been a very white and male dominated profession,” she added. “But now we need to make sure we reflect the very best of the communities we police.” 

The Baroness Casey report in March found the Met institutionally sexist, racist and homophobic with a rife a ‘boys’ club’ culture.  

D’Orsi is the first female chief constable for the BTP and has had her own experiences of sexism in her career. 

She said: “When I joined 21 years ago, I was given a smaller truncheon than my male colleagues to fit in a handbag. I often reflect on that story and think about how I was supposed to defend myself. 

“What we need to do today is think about policies that, in another 20 years, will seem as ridiculous as that.” 

To identify problematic areas, D’Orsi listens to negative experiences 

She said: “After George Floyd’s death in America, I held some listening sessions with staff from minority groups. I really felt angry and disappointed at what they were experiencing and obviously I don’t have those lived experiences. 

“But the people who do have those experiences are often those with the quieter voices. I really see it as my duty to use my position and amplify those voices to drive reform.  

“Just maintaining the status quo is unacceptable.”