Sir Mark Rowley, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has said he will urgently confront the culture, systems and leadership in the force after a review found that hundreds of police officers should have been sacked.
Baroness Louise Casey’s interim report on misconduct found that officers and staff suffered discrimination and hate from colleagues and were then let down by a weak response from the Met.
She found that many claims of sexual misconduct, misogyny, racism and homophobia were badly mishandled and that one serving police officer had 11 misconduct notices for allegations involving assault, sexual harassment and fraud.
The Casey review into misconduct concluded that the Met takes too long to resolve allegations, that staff do not believe action will be taken when concerns are raised, and that allegations relating to sexual misconduct and other discriminatory behaviour are less likely to result in a “case to answer” decision. She added that more HR expertise was needed to support the misconduct process.
Rowley said: “Integrity is the foundation of policing. People rightly expect us to uphold the highest standards.
We don’t want this behaviour in the Met… If we worked for Tesco we’d be able to sack someone for less” – Met inspector
“Yet our organisation is being undermined by corrupting behaviours that have gone unchallenged and have been allowed to multiply.
“While the focus of this report is on misconduct, it tells a serious story about our culture. We need to radically overhaul how our organisation is set up and instil our values in everything we do.”
Baroness Casey was appointed to review the Met’s approach to misconduct after the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard last year by serving police officer Wayne Couzens. He was sentenced to life imprisonment last year but appeared in court earlier this month to face two counts of indecent exposure pre-dating that crime.
According to the report, 20% of those facing allegations – more than 1,800 officers – had more than one complaint against them, with 500 of those facing between three to five separate misconduct claims since 2013.
Met Police misconduct
Baroness Casey, who served as the UK’s first victims commissioner from 2010 to 2013, also found racial disparity across the misconduct system, with white officers dealt with less harshly than black or Asian officers.
In a letter to Rowley, she said that despite some improvement, it was still the case in 2021-22 that black officers and staff were 81% more likely than white officers to have misconduct allegations brought against them, while Asian officers were 55% more likely. Both ethnic groups were also more likely to have an allegation substantiated than white officers. “This is a longstanding issue and is clear evidence of systemic bias,” she wrote.
In qualitative research, the review was repeatedly told that staff and officers want colleagues removed from the police for unacceptable behaviour, and are frustrated with the Met’s inability to do so.
It heard accounts that the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards had told people raising misconduct issues that unless an officer is convicted of a criminal offence, it will be hard to remove them for gross misconduct.
One senior police staff member told the review: “I’m losing good staff because they say, ‘how am I sitting next to a guy who bullied me or exposed himself?’”
A Met inspector said: “We don’t want this behaviour in the Met… If we worked for Tesco we’d be able to sack someone for less.”
In her letter she said: “A piecemeal approach to these issues is unlikely to work. Radical and wholesale reform of the system is required to increase both public confidence in the Met and internal confidence in the misconduct process. Accountability for achieving them also needs to be held at the highest level of the Met.”
The final report by Baroness Casey and her team is expected to be published in spring 2023.