EYNTK about the new Met Police investigation (in under 60 seconds)
Baroness Casey's year-long investigation into the Metropolitan Police force has come to an end, and her damning 363 page report has – rightfully – made headlines.
Casey was appointed to review the Met's culture and standards following the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving officer Wayne Couzens. During the course of Casey's review, more shocking cases came to light, including that of David Carrick, another serving police officer who was convicted of a series of rapes and sexual offences as well as the torture of women.
Perhaps unsurprisingly then, Casey's investigation found that the Met is failing women. One particularly notable finding is how rape victims are being let down. Casey cited how dilapidated fridges were repeatedly being overpacked with evidence, with one freezer breaking down during last year's heatwave, resulting in all of the evidence being destroyed and their corresponding cases being dropped.
So, what else did Casey's report uncover?
Baroness Casey's Met investigation: What are the key takeaways?
Little has changed since 1999
Following the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the 1999 Macpherson report found that the Metropolitan police was institutionally racist (meaning: they failed to give an appropriate service to some groups in society because of their colour, culture or ethnicity) and three decades on, Casey says the Met is "yet to free itself" from this.
"Clearly not everyone in the Met is racist, but there are racists and people with racist attitudes within the organisation," Casey writes in her report, noting that: "Racism and racial bias are reinforced within Met systems."
"Black and ethnic minority officers and staff experience racism at work and it is routinely ignored, dismissed, or not spoken about. Many do not think it is worth reporting," she says, adding that the Met "under-protects and over-polices Black Londoners", resulting in a "generational mistrust of the police among Black Londoners."
Homophobia is a big issue
In her report, Casey points out that racism is not the only problem within the Met and there is a "deep-seated homophobia" in the organisation.
According to Casey, almost one in five of Met employees surveyed had personally experienced homophobia, with 30% of LGBTQIA+ employees saying they had been bullied. In one instance, a gay, female officer, was asked by a male colleague during a night shift to "warm" his "balls" up because they "were cold". After reporting the incident to her supervisor, the officer was told this was just "banter" and "wasn’t the worst thing in the world".
Similarly, a gay, male officer recalled how his colleagues were obsessed with his sex life and would continually ask inappropriate questions in briefings or around the
police station such as "are you a giver or a taker?"
Given that all of this is going on within the force, it's no wonder that trust, confidence and fairness scores among LGBTQIA+ Londoners has fallen significantly when it comes to the Met.
Juvenile behaviour is rife
Casey's report highlights how "pranks" and "banter" have become commonplace within the force, nothing that this has included everything from bags of urine being thrown at cars, male officers flicking each other’s genitals, dildos being put in coffee mugs, lockers being emptied or covered in evidence tape, and in one case, an animal being put in an officer’s locker.
Unacceptable behaviour has been allowed to "flourish"
"Time and time again, those complaining are not believed or supported. They are treated badly, or face counter-claims from those they have accused," Casey says in her report of how officers who are victims of racism, homophobia and misogyny are treated.
"In the absence of vigilance towards those who intend to abuse the office of constable, predatory and unacceptable behaviour has been allowed to flourish," she adds. "There are too many places for people to hide. The integrity of the organisation remains vulnerable to threat."
Recommendations for improvement
Following her year-long investigation, Casey concludes that numerous improvements must be made by the Met. Her recommendations for improvement include –
Cleaning up the Met through: a reformed misconduct process; embedding and enforcement of the highest policing ethical values; changing the vetting process with immediate effect; and providing the Commissioner with new powers.
Providing a better service to women and girls by: radically reforming and re-specialising Public Protection Teams; and creating an overarching children’s strategy for London.
Building trust with Londoners by: reforming the force's principles; introducing a new process with Londoners to apologise for past failings; resetting the use of stop and search; and listening to Londoners' feedback and concerns.
Increasing accountability through: the introduction of structures that enable Londoners to oversee and scrutinise the changes needed and ensure full transparency; the commissioning of independent progress reviews after two years, and again after five years; and the introduction of key measures used to test whether these reforms are taking place.
Casey stresses that if these changes does not come about, "more radical, structural options, such as dividing up the Met into national, specialist and London responsibilities, should be considered to ensure the service to Londoners is prioritised."
Baroness Casey's Met investigation: How has the force responded?
After the release of Casey's report, Sir Mark Rowley – the Met's Commissioner – apologised to Londoners for failures that have brought "shame" on his force. Speaking to the press, Rowley said that he is "deeply sorry" for the "appalling examples of discrimination, the letting down of communities and victims and the strain felt by the frontline". He branded this "unacceptable" and warned of a "long journey" ahead to restore the public confidence in the Met.
However, Rowley did not accept Casey's conclusion that the Met is institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic. Although he said he accepts Casey's diagnosis of the problems that have led her to use the term, Rowley argued that it has become politicised and means "different things to different people".
Despite this, Rowley made no secret of his plans to overhaul the force. "This report is vivid and it is painful reading. I’m not going to underestimate its significance, the power of it, the scale of reform needed. We all want to fix it. We all know that we have let London down," he said. "This report sparks a whole range of emotions, of shame and anger, but it also increases our resolve."
Rowley went on: "We are going to stare down these issues and take them on. I absolutely understand why Londoners confidence has been shaken by events and this report will add to that sense of frustration, disappointment and upset with the Met.
"We are determined to change and have started on that journey but I’m cautious about listing a load of factors saying we’ve got this cracked. This is a long journey. We will do everything humanly possible to implement the recommendations."
To learn more about what the Met has – and hasn't – changed since the murder of Sarah Everard, head here.
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