Huge failings kept hundreds of corrupt officers in the force, admits Met chief

Huge failings kept hundreds of corrupt officers in the force, admits Met chief

17 Oct 2022 (The Guardian )

Casey report uncovers internal failings that let racist, corrupt and misogynist officers remain in their jobs

Metropolitan police officers suspected of serious criminal offences including sexual assault and domestic abuse have been allowed to escape justice, a damning review has found, with the force’s leader admitting that hundreds of racist, women-hating and corrupt officers have been left in the ranks.

Massive failings in how Britain’s biggest force roots out wrongdoing were exposed in a report by Louise Casey, which found “systemic” racism in the Met, and misogyny.

One officer faced 11 claims including sexual assault, harassment and domestic abuse, but remains in the force, the report found.

The new Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, said he may still not have the power to remove him, and will ask the government for the power to reopen past cases.

Rowley said he was appalled by the findings and apologised to officers and members of the public who had been let down, and said the number of officers and staff being sacked each year, between 30 and 50, was “massively under-engineered”, and he estimated there are hundreds of officers in the Met who should be kicked out of the force.

“You have to come to the conclusion there must be hundreds of people that shouldn’t be here, who should be thrown out,” Rowley said. “There must be hundreds who are behaving disgracefully, undermining our integrity and need ejecting.”

Lady Casey was commissioned by the Met in the wake of the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer. This was her interim report purely focusing on the Met discipline system, and complaints from officers and staff about their colleagues.

It reveals Met officers and staff trying to fight toxic colleagues were betrayed by the force’s discipline system, and fear an “anything goes” culture.

The findings are among the worst faced by any police force and Rowley said he felt shame and anger reading the report, and conversations with female and ethnic minority staff about their experiences had left him in tears. He added the report showed the Met had been “too weak” facing down wrongdoing in the ranks.

Black officers were 81% more likely to face disciplinary action and new ethnic recruits were over 120% more likely to be fired than white counterparts, who were in effect shielded by a system that was broken.

Worse may be to come, with Casey’s full report due next year as is another report ordered by the government, and with other major scandals likely to become public.

The report shows officers and staff being fobbed off when they complain of wrongdoing, and reluctant to do so because they fear nothing will be done or reprisals – and Casey said they are right to feel so.

Casey said: “There are moments when I have looked at the cases with people I’ve listened to and I have wondered what exactly would constitute gross misconduct in order to get them out of the force.”

Casey looked at data and cases from 2013 onwards and among her findings were:

  • About 55% to 60% of allegations made by Met officers, staff or their families receive a no case to answer decision, higher than in other forces.
  •  For discrimination allegations less than three in 10 are upheld, the same for sexual assault and sexual harassment claims against colleagues. Casey said: “This leaves many officers and staff in the Met to conclude that discriminatory behaviour is in fact not a breach of professional standards and adds to the sense that ‘anything goes’.”
  •  Supervisors are putting officers and staff off from raising concerns.
  •  Since 2013, 1,809 officers and staff had more than one allegation against them and only 13 (0.71%) had been dismissed.
  •  Many misconduct cases are dealt with by overstretched local units without proper training.
  • Local surveys of officers in 2021 found between 22% to 47% had experienced unwanted sexual advances or touching, sexism and misogyny.

The report follows others that highlighted serious wrongdoing and demanded reform, most notably the Macpherson report in 1999 that found institutional racism helped the racist killers of Stephen Lawrence escape justice.

Casey said: “Sadly [more than] 20 years after Macpherson, there remains a clear racial disparity and systemic bias throughout the system, and within that there is clear evidence of misogyny.”

Rowley said progress had been made but was “grossly insufficient” and said: “I can only apologise unreservedly to the officers and members of the public who have been let down in this way. We failed as a police service to show zero tolerance for racism, misogyny, homophobia and ableism and that shames us and clearly previous claims of being an organisation that shows zero tolerance have been premature.”

It was the defensiveness and widespread perception that the previous Commissioner Cressida Dick was in denial that led to her ousting in February.

The Guardian understands Rowley was aware while Dick was commissioner that the things were going badly wrong in the Met. He said the Casey report highlighted failings, prejudice and corruption worse than he feared.

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, who ousted Dick believed she lacked a robust enough plan to deal with scandals engulfing the force, said: “I was concerned that a serious cultural problem had developed within the Met which was allowing racist, sexist and homophobic behaviour to be downplayed or left unchallenged. The interim findings of this review not only confirm my concerns, but reveal a situation even worse than feared.”

The home secretary, Suella Braverman, announced a review of how toxic officers are allowed to remain in forces, saying: “Culture and standards in the police must improve. And where an officer has fallen seriously short of these expectations, demonstrable, public action must be taken.”

Rowley accepted the findings in full and promised urgent and sweeping reforms, including a boosted counter-corruption command, as revealed by the Guardian last month, and a trawl through past allegations to see if those who escaped sanction can be ejected.

He said changing the culture was necessary and committed to building an “anti racist” service.

Rowley said the courage, determination and heroism of the majority of officers was reasons for hope and he vowed big and radical changes: “I am determined to take this and I am optimistic we will succeed.”

The force is in special measures after confidence during Dick’s time in office crashed to 49% on one key measure after a series of scandals that threatened the force’s legitimacy.