London’s Metropolitan Police is institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic and unable to police itself, an independent report said on Tuesday, putting pressure on the Met’s new boss to reform Britain’s biggest police force.
The review was commissioned by then-Met chief Cressida Dick in 2021 after serving officer Wayne Couzens was jailed for life for the rape and murder of young woman Sarah Everard in a shocking case. country and focus attention on the broader work culture of the force.
But since then another officer, David Carrick, has also been jailed for life for dozens of rapes and sexual assaults stretching back two decades, and several other scandals have emerged at the Met.
“This report is rigorous, stark and unsparing. His findings are harsh and will be difficult for many to accept. But it should leave no doubt about the scale of the challenge,” said Louise Casey, who led the review, in her foreword.
Casey, a member of the upper house of parliament, identified serious failings throughout the Met that required “radical” reform.
Asked if there could be more officers like Couzens and Carrick – who at one point served in the same armed unit protecting MPs and foreign diplomats – Casey said: “I can’t assure you enough that there is not.”
“The job of the police is to keep us as a public safe,” she said. “Too many Londoners have now lost faith in the police to do that.
The report, which identified “systemic and fundamental problems” within the Met, including “inadequate management”, made 16 recommendations that would constitute a “full review”.
“We found widespread bullying, discrimination, institutional homophobia, misogyny and racism and other unacceptable behaviour,” the report said, adding that “women and children are not receiving the protection and support they deserve”.
Failure to reform could mean the force, which polices more than eight million people across 1,605 square kilometers in the British capital, would be broken, Casey warned.
“The bottom line is that if an organization can’t fix itself, there has to be change,” she told BBC radio.
But she noted, “The hardest part is asking an organization to change its culture and do a better job.”
The Met has failed to protect its female staff and the public from “policing perpetrators of domestic violence and those who abuse their position for sexual purposes”, her report said.
“Time and time again, those who complain are not believed or supported. They are being mistreated or facing counterclaims from those they have accused,” the statement said.
The 363-page review also said the “absence of vigilance” meant “predatory and unacceptable behavior was allowed to flourish”.
Racism also exists within the force, with discrimination “often ignored” and complaints “likely to be directed against black, Asian and minority ethnic officers”.
The Met’s crime investigations have also been criticised, with the review saying the force relied on “crammed, dilapidated or broken fridges and freezers” to store forensic evidence.
In the same refrigerator, a lunch box was found as forensic samples in rape cases, and some appliances were so full that they were chained.
One refrigerator had broken down, meaning the evidence inside could no longer be used, the report found.
The findings come more than two decades after the 1999 investigation into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence identified institutional racism within the force.
Defense and denial
After finding that consent policing had broken down in the capital, the review said the biggest obstacle to consolidating the force was the Met’s defensive culture and denial of the extent of its problems.
Met Commissioner Mark Rowley, Britain’s top police officer, told reporters: “We’ve let Londoners down and we’ve let our own frontline down and this news vividly illustrates that […] I’m deeply sorry.”
“It (the news) generates a whole range of emotions: anger, frustration, embarrassment… But above all, it generates determination,” he added.
He said the force’s professional standards department had been “strengthened” and that with their help “we are discharging officers at a faster rate”. Still, he said the work is not done yet.
“I can’t say I’ve reduced the risk of a bad officer to zero yet, but we’re exploiting people every day and we’re making progress,” he said when asked if officers were still being charged with such crimes. such as murder, rape and domestic violence serving in the armed forces.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said confidence in the police had been “hugely eroded”.
“Now we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again, that we can regain people’s trust and I know the police commissioner is determined to do that,” he told BBC television.
The report said the force needed strong leadership, a women’s protection service and a new strategy for children, among other recommendations for reform.
“It is incredibly important that we take this opportunity, one of the darkest days in the history of the Met Police Service, to make sure there is no one to deny it,” Mayor of London Sadiq Khan told BBC Radio.