Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Damning report reveals British public’s loss of faith in Met Police

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Britain’s biggest police force will be disbanded unless it overhauls a toxic culture of sexism, racism and homophobia. A quarter of a century after the force was first branded “institutionally racist” it has been plunged into its biggest-ever crisis by a damning new report that says it remains not only institutionally racist but also sexist, homophobic and has repeatedly failed to protect the safety of women and children.

Baroness Casey review – ordered after Sarah Everard was abducted, raped and murdered by serving Met officer Wayne Couzens in 2021 – warns the force no longer has public consent such is the mammoth level of distrust – and refused to rule out other evil officers still patrolling the streets.

Shock behaviour of officers uncovered includes bags of urine being thrown at cars, male officers flicking each other’s genitals, sex toys being put in coffee mugs, lockers being emptied or covered in evidence tape, and an animal being stashed in an officer’s locker.

A Muslim officer had bacon put in his boots while a Sikh pc had his beard forcibly shaved off. Posters in which female officer’s guns and batons were digitally altered to kettles, irons and mops were put up at one station.

The behaviour followed on from a previous well-known  practice called “station stamping” where new female recruits were ordered to lift their skirts or expose their chest to have their new station ‘stamp’ put on their buttocks or breasts.

Baroness Casey said: “The Met can now no longer presume that it has the permission of the people of London to police them. The loss of this crucial principle of policing by consent would be catastrophic. We must make sure it is not irreversible.”

Following a year-long probe of “holding a mirror up to the force” Baroness Casey says the Met is a “breeding ground” for misogynists and “a magnet” for bullies.

The 363 page report unveiled today (Tuesday) has left Met Chiefs “fighting for their lives” but while newly-arrived commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said while he accepted all of the report’s findings, he refused to label his force’s failings “institutional”.

He has also chosen to “radically overhaul” rather than disband the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection unit where both Couzens and serial rapist David Carrick worked.

Baroness Casey called the report “rigorous, stark and unsparing” and said the force had five years to change – or the only answer would be to break it up.

But when asked if there could be more officers like Couzens and Carrick lurking within the force, she said: “I cannot sufficiently assure you that that is not the case.”

Her finding that the force is institutionally racist echoes that of the Macpherson Inquiry in 1999, which took place after Stephen Lawrence’s murder and the abject failures in how the Met investigated his death.

But since then the force remained largely white and male, the review found.

The Met was also accused of homophobia over the failure to stop serial killer Stephen Port after he took the life of his first victim and went on to murder three more men, but force bosses denied there was an issue.

The report reveals 22 percent of staff and officers have experienced bullying, while 33 percent with long-standing illness, disability or infirmity have fallen foul of bullies.

One in five LGBTQ admitted they had personally experienced homophobia while black officers are 81 percent more likely to be in the misconduct system than white counterparts.

Baroness Casey called for the Met to “change itself”, adding: “It is not our job as the public to keep ourselves safe from the police. It is the police’s job to keep us safe as the public.

“Far too many Londoners have now lost faith in policing to do that.”

She pointed out that Carrick was only caught after one of his victims heard a heart-wrenching statement made by Miss Everard’s devastated mother that moved her to contact Hertfordshire Police, rather than as a result of any action by the Met.

She added: “The Met has not protected its female employees or members of the public from police perpetrators of domestic abuse, nor those who abuse their position for sexual purposes.”

The review also paints an alarming picture of how crimes against women and children are investigated.

Officers are relying on “over-stuffed, dilapidated or broken fridges and freezers” instead of fast-track forensic services and in one shocking case a lunchbox was found in the same fridge as rape samples resulting in contaminated the evidence.

Another had to be strapped shut with bungee ropes and last summer a fridge jam-packed with rape kits broke down – meaning the kits had to be discarded as evidence.

The review said the public had been “put last” with the loss of police commands for each borough, and that the English capital “no longer has a functioning neighbourhood policing service”.

Baroness Casey accused the Met of a “tick-box” approach to critical media coverage, preferring to put the blame on “bad apples” rather than tackling systemic problems.

Problems including austerity, changes in crime, and a disciplinary system that makes it “difficult to get rid of people who corrupt the Met’s integrity” have “eroded frontline policing”, Baroness Casey said.

She refused to heap blame on previous commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, the Met commissioner who resigned last year after it was revealed how officers at Charing Cross police station exchanged WhatsApp “jokes” about raping colleagues and killing black children, saying the problems were more deep-rooted than just Dicks five-year term at the top.

She added: “There are too many places for people to hide.”

The report called for a “complete overhaul” of the service and a “new approach to restore public trust and confidence” with 16 recommendations to be made to the Met, the Mayor’s Office for Policing to “create a radically improved new London Metropolitan Police Service”.

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