Metropolitan Police placed in special measures after series of scandals

·3 min read
Met Police - ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Met Police - ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Scotland Yard was on Tuesday placed in “special measures” after a series of scandals, as Tory sources blamed Sadiq Khan for being “asleep at the wheel.”

The police watchdog told Britain’s biggest force it was deemed failing because of “high profile incidents” that were having a “chilling effect on public trust and confidence” in the force.

It means the Met will be under extra scrutiny, have to report to inspectors more regularly and could be asked to meet specific crime-fighting targets. It is the sixth of 43 forces in England and Wales to be placed in special measures after Greater Manchester, Cleveland, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire and Wiltshire.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary cited scandals including the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, the strip-search of a teenage girl at school while she was menstruating and the stop and search of Bianca Williams, the athlete.

The fresh crisis comes at a critical time for the Met as Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, seeks to have Dame Cressida Dick, the Met commissioner who was forced out after losing the confidence of London Mayor Mr Khan, replaced.

However, allies of the two politicians who will jointly decide on the next commissioner were on Tuesday night embroiled in an extraordinary row over who was to blame for the latest crisis.

A Tory source said: “As the Police and Crime Commissioner responsible for Metropolitan Police, [Mr Khan] is letting Londoners down.

“While other forces across our country have made real headway in making streets safer, the Labour Mayor of London has been asleep at the wheel and now finds himself as the police and crime commissioner in charge of the largest force in special measures.”

A source close to Mr Khan said he would “take no lessons” from Ms Patel, who with Boris Johnson had opposed his “decisive action” over Dame Cressida in order to rebuild trust and confidence in the police.

“He will take no lessons in policing from the Home Secretary, who clearly was happy with the status quo and didn’t want any action taken,” said the source.

"The Home Secretary oversees policing in England and a significant number of the forces she oversees are now in special measures. That fact tells you all you need to know about policing under this Tory government."

Both Ms Patel and Mr Khan on Tuesday publicly backed the decision by the police inspectorate. “I expect the Met and the London Mayor to take immediate action to begin addressing [the failings],” Ms Patel said.

It is understood there had been concerns within policing over the apparent “unduly lenient” approach by the inspectorate and its failure to intervene in the Met despite successive scandals including the Charing Cross outrage where officers joked about rape and racism.

'Substantial and persistent concerns'

The decision to place it in special measures is believed to have been recommended by Matt Parr, the region’s inspector, and approved by Andy Cooke, who took over as chief inspector earlier this year.

In a letter to the Met, Mr Parr said there had been “substantial and persistent concerns” about the force. He also cited systemic failures” around measures to combat corruption highlighted by the independent panel into the unsolved murder of the private investigator Daniel Morgan.

Sir Stephen House, the acting commissioner, and the new commissioner will be required to work with Mr Khan to produce an action plan which the inspectorate will assess. The force will only be released from "special measures" when "sufficient and consistent improvement" has been made.

It comes as the race to succeed Dame Cressida has been whittled down to a final two, both of whom are Met insiders: Mark Rowley, a former head of counter-terrorism, and Nick Ephgrave, currently part of the embattled force’s top leadership.

A source said “restoring the public trust and confidence” had to be at the heart of the action plan. “It is helpful for the new commissioner. It is a launchpad to reform and could help them in doing that,” they said.

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