The new head of the Metropolitan Police said people will be removed from the force for “ghastly acts” during his tenure, after a BBC investigation alleged a former officer had been posting racist content on WhatsApp.
Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, who started his new job during the official mourning period for Queen Elizabeth II last month, said there are a range of things that can be done to be “more assertive” in identifying people in the force who are problematic.
Sir Mark said the Met has let the public down, as well as good officers who have not seen “the robustness and determination from leaders to sort it out”.
Speaking on BBC’s Newsnight, Sir Mark said: “That’s what I’m going to change. So we rebuild our integrity by firstly getting rid of the people who are undermining it.
“Secondly, by the way we then work with communities.
“There’s a long journey ahead, but I’ve got so many great men and women. I know we will bounce back.”
Pressed on whether there will be officers removed from the force in 100 days, Sir Mark replied: “You will see over my tenure, you will see more people being removed from the force for these sort of ghastly acts because we’re going to turn the stones over.”
He said this will involve vetting, adding: “There’s a whole range of things we can do to be more assertive about identifying those who are causing us problems, at the same time as strengthening community policing and looking again at how we work with communities to tackle the issues that matter to them.”
Sir Mark’s interview comes after the Met arrested a man in his 60s on suspicion of offences under the Communications Act and misconduct in a public office.
The force said the arrest followed reporting by the BBC.
#UPDATE | Shortly after 12:00hrs on Thursday, 6 October, a man aged in his 60s was arrested on suspicion of offences under the Communications Act and misconduct in a public office. He remains in custody at a south London police station.
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) October 6, 2022
Newsnight reported on racist messages in a WhatsApp group used by former Met police officers.
Sir Mark has previously said he wants to be able to show the public that progress has been made in key areas in 100 days, and to bring the force out of a form of special measures in 12 to 18 months.
The former Met assistant commissioner rejoined his old force at one of the most turbulent times in its history.
The Met has been shaken by a series of scandals and missteps, most shockingly the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, but also a number of groups of officers found to have exchanged deeply offensive messages on social media.
Sir Mark’s predecessor Dame Cressida Dick resigned earlier in the year after a clash with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.