Met Police placed in special measures after series of scandals

·4 min read
More cases have been referred to the IOPC relating to child strip searches (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)
More cases have been referred to the IOPC relating to child strip searches (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

The Metropolitan Police has been placed in special measures after being hit by a series of scandals.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) announced it had decided to place the force under “additional scrutiny and support” after it was criticised for events including the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer and the strip search of a school girl in Hackney.

In a statement, the Inspectorate said: “We can confirm that we are now monitoring the Met Police Service through our engagement process which provides additional scrutiny and support to help it make improvements.”

Asked if this meant special measures, a spokesman said: “Yes.”

A Met spokesman said the force recognised “the cumulative impact of events and problems” it was dealing with.

They said: “We understand the impact this has had on communities and we share their disappointment.

“We are determined to be a police service Londoners can be proud of. We are talking to the Inspectorate about next steps."

It comes as the government continues its search for a new commissioner for the force after Dame Cressida Dick left after Mayor Sadiq Khan said he had no confidence in her.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick leaving Scotland Yard (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick leaving Scotland Yard (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I expect the police to get the basics right. It is clear the Metropolitan Police Service is falling short of these expectations which is why I support the action that HMICFRS has taken today to highlight their failings – and I expect the Met and the London Mayor to take immediate action to begin addressing them.

“The process to recruit a new Commissioner is well under way and I have made clear that the successful candidate must demonstrate sustained improvements in the Metropolitan Police Service in order to regain public trust both in London and across the country.

“The new Commissioner will need to deliver on the public’s priorities for the police – making our streets safer, bearing down on crime and bringing more criminals to justice, while continuing to recruit thousands of new officers to protect local communities.”

Dame Cressida’s replacement is expected to be unveiled in the summer, with Sir Stephen House currently running the force as acting commissioner.

The Met is the second force to be placed on special measures in recent years. The watchdog placed Greater Manchester Police on the “engage” process in 2020 after it failed to report 80,000 crimes.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he welcomed “the additional scrutiny and support that these measures will now bring.”

He said: “A series of appalling scandals have not only exposed deep cultural problems but have damaged the confidence of Londoners in the capital’s police service.

“The decision by the HMIC to now move the Met into special measures has laid bare the substantial performance failings by the force.

“As I have been saying for some time, Londoners deserve better. That’s why we now need to see nothing less than a new contract forged between the police and the public in London. This means root and branch reforms and systemic change to the Met’s performance and culture.

“This will be a crucial first step for the next Commissioner to start rebuilding trust and credibility with our communities. I will work with HMIC and will hold the Met to account in delivering the police reforms and step change in policing performance and culture that all our communities deserve.”

The family of Child Q, the Hackney teenager who was strip-searched by Metropolitan Police officers while she was menstruating welcomed the decision.

They said: ““The Metropolitan Police has shown time and again that it cannot do its job properly and its officers’ actions have had life-changing, devastating consequences for innocent people across London, including Child Q. It is no wonder that there is little to no faith left in the Metropolitan Police.

“We hope the additional scrutiny of special measures will result in permanent change in the force’s culture and practices. The Met must now respond meaningfully to the failings which have been identified by HMICFRS as well as those identified by the numerous recent reports into its wrongdoing. Londoners deserve so much better.”

Among the scandals to have rocked the Met in recent years are the racist texts exchanged by members of Charing Cross police station and the jailing of two officers who admitted sharing photographs of two sisters, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, after they were found murdered in a Wembley Park.

It also drew fire for its policing of a vigil following Ms Everard’s murder after women were handcuffed on the ground and led away by officers.

A woman is arrested by police during a vigil for Sarah Everard (Getty Images)
A woman is arrested by police during a vigil for Sarah Everard (Getty Images)

A report by the inspectorate concluded the police “acted appropriately” at the event, but also found it was a “public relations disaster” and described some statements made by members of the force as “tone deaf”.

Last week, the Met confirmed a further eight voluntary referrals involving strip searches of children have been made to the Independent Office of Police Conduct after two teenage girls were strip-searched by officers while they were menstruating.

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