‘Shock and anger’ over online abuse of new Assistant Chief Constable

Senior police figures have expressed shock and anger after a social media post announcing the appointment of a new, female Assistant Chief Constable received “horrendous personal, sexist and homophobic” comments.

British Transport Police (BTP) announced in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Friday that Commander Karen Findlay was joining the force from the Metropolitan Police.

The post was subject to “vile, nasty, and homophobic messages”, which have been denounced by the two forces, including by the Met Police Commissioner.

Sir Mark Rowley said: “Whilst she has rightly received many congratulations, the X post announcing her appointment has also been targeted by online trolls, many anonymous, making horrendous personal sexist and homophobic comments.

“I am angry. My colleagues are angry. It isn’t acceptable and it’s happening too often.”

Ms Findlay condemned the “homophobic, sexist vileness” in a post on X, saying the focus should be on professional experience, contribution and commitment.

She reposted a statement made by BTP’s Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi, which said: “I have been shocked to see how many people took our post, which was celebrating the appointment of a senior woman in policing, as an opportunity to respond with vile, nasty, and homophobic messages.”

Ms D’Orsi added that although she was “disgusted” by the replies, the post will remain up on X to “spotlight the misogyny that women in policing continue to face”.

Sir Mark Rowley
Sir Mark Rowley said he is ‘angry’ (James Manning/PA)

He said: “The intensity of the racist, sexist, and homophobic abuse directed at police officers on social media is increasing alarmingly.

“At a time when we need to attract officers from under-represented parts of our communities this is hugely damaging.”

The commissioner added: “It is wholly unacceptable that those whose profession is to protect and serve others increasingly face such intrusive, vile and hateful abuse.”

He urged people on social media to “reflect on their actions”, insisting that his colleagues “deserve better”.

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