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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Anthony France

First citizens’ assembly set up in east London to help scrutinise Met Police

London’s first citizens’ assembly has been set up in the wake of Baroness Louise Casey’s damning report into the Metropolitan Police’s culture and standards.

Around 40 selected residents of Waltham Forest, a borough with the joint lowest levels of trust in the force, will hold senior officers to account and meet early next year.

Residents are getting a say in how policing can be delivered in the hope of forging a new and long-lasting partnership.

Waltham Forest Council said it is the first local authority in the country to hold a such panel.

Baroness Casey’s review, ordered in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder by PC Wayne Couzens, found the Met is institutionally racist, misogynist and homophobic and laid bare a slew of troubling incidents.

The new scheme is being supported by London mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

Councillor Khevyn Limbajee, Waltham Forest’s cabinet member for community safety, said the assembly will seek to rebuild confidence and make the area a place where all residents feel safe regardless of age, sex or ethnicity.

He added: “Baroness Casey’s review into the culture and practises of the Met revealed many failings across the service.

“We know too that locally trust and confidence in our local police is low, and that is what this assembly will seek to address.

“We want a police service that works for all our communities, and we know that many of the police want that as well.

“One of the most striking things to come out of the Casey report was that there were lots of officers who knew things weren’t right and wanted change.

“We hope this assembly will help give them the right tools to achieve that.

“We believe this could be a model for how community policing can be conducted in future.”

Baroness Louise Casey (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

Chief Superintendent Simon Crick, the borough commander, said: “As the senior officer responsible for policing in Waltham Forest, I wanted to work in partnership with the local authority to deliver the citizens’ assembly.

“Our officers in Waltham Forest are hard-working and dedicated to keeping the public safe.

“We want to do everything we can to reassure the communities in which we work of that commitment.

“For me this is an excellent opportunity to give the people who reside in Waltham Forest a greater voice in how policing services are delivered locally.

“A key word for me in relation to the citizens’ assembly is legitimacy.

“By consulting with a diverse and representative group of people from across all geographical areas of Waltham Forest, I believe the assembly will be truly representative of our communities.

“This will give my senior team and I the legitimacy to act on any recommendations the assembly may put forward, and for me this is critical to success.”

Cllr Grace Williams, leader of Waltham Forest Council, added: “There have been reports into the police before, and things haven’t improved – or at least not by enough.

“We want this citizens’ assembly to show what can be achieved when the officers listen to the communities they serve and work alongside them for change. And so, create a lasting legacy.”

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