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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Martin Bentham

London deserves better, says Baroness Casey after damning Met Police report

The Met must reform to root out bigotry and other catastrophic failings that have left it rotten and broken because Londoners deserve better, the author of the most damning report in the force’s history said on Tuesday.

Baroness Casey said it was “rapidly losing the permission of Londoners to police them” because of its failure to “keep out, or root out wrongdoers”, its inability to protect women and children, and its withdrawal from frontline policing.

She said it was “riven with racism, sexism and homophobia, in the way it treats its staff and the way it polices Londoners” and the principle of policing by consent was at risk of being destroyed unless radical change was implemented.

Baroness Casey said this included apologising with humility for past mistakes, improving its accountability and restoring frontline policing, including in relation to the protection of women and children, as well as doing “much more” to improve diversity in its ranks.

London deserves a better Met,” Baroness Casey said in an article for the Evening Standard. “The many great Met officers deserve a better Met. The Met cannot be in denial now. My report makes clear what its problems are and what needs to change. This is the moment for the Met to take action.”

Baroness Casey’s demand follows the publication of her landmark 360-page report in which she revealed that women in the Met were “traded like cattle”, initiation rites with people being urinated on in showers, and racist actions including a Sikh officer having his beard trimmed, another having his turban put in a shoebox, and a Muslim officer finding bacon in his boots.

Baroness Casey arrives to address media on Monday (PA)

Widespread failings in the service to the public were also exposed with samples taken from rape victims lost through contamination and crammed into a freezer so full that it needed three officers to close the door.

The damning findings came as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warned that public trust in policing had been “hugely damaged” by the failings exposed in the report and that “everyone’s trust” had been put under strain. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the report was “incredibly sad and one of the darkest days in the Met police’s history”.

Campaigners representing women, victims, ethnic minority Londoners and others also joined the calls for wholesale reform and expressed similar dismay at the gravity of the problems afflicting the Met.

In response, Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley conceded that he should have spotted some of the bigotry during his time as head of counter-terrorism, but insisted that he was determined to implement the reforms needed to restore trust in policing in London.

“I was spending a lot of my time wrestling with Isis [Islamic State] and terrorism,” Sir Mark told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “I saw some cultural challenges, I made some changes in the protection world but clearly they weren’t enough. The level of toxicity that Louise [Baroness Casey] calls out, I didn’t see it.”

However, he faced further criticism for refusing to accept that the force was “institutionally” racist, sexist or homophobic. Sir Mark said he would not use the terms because they were politicised and meant “different things to different people” but said that he recognised that there were systemic problems with bigotry and he was already taking action to address the problems identified in the report.

“I am determined to succeed,” he said, appealing to Londoners considering joining the police not to be deterred.

“It is an immense task. I will be able to say to Londoners month by month, quarter by quarter, this is how we are getting better. It has to be a new beginning. After a couple of years there should be a significant scale of change that people are starting to recognise.”

Baroness Casey reiterated her concerns, however, during a series of broadcast interviews in which, in addition to her findings on institutionalised bigotry, she also highlighted the misallocation of resources as a further way in which the Met had been failing the public.

“If a woman is left raped and in a coma she is dealt with by phenomenally hard-working but dilapidated public protection teams,” she said. “Meanwhile back in firearms command, and Scotland Yard, resources are aplenty — their use of consultancy budgets, their use of contractors, the fact that the guys who hold the firearms get any toy they want at all.”

Her comments came as her report, which was commissioned in response to the conviction of Met officer Wayne Couzens for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, warned that the Met was an institutionally sexist, racist and homophobic force, riddled with bullying, poor leadership and the “rotten” treatment of black people.

Baroness Casey said the protection of women had also been “thrown out of the window” and that the problems infecting every level of the force were so severe that there could be other officers as bad as Couzens and his serial rapist colleague David Carrick, below, still within the Met’s ranks.

Baroness Casey said the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command, where both Couzens and Carrick served, should effectively be disbanded and that both it and the separate firearms unit were blighted by “elitist attitudes and toxic cultures of bullying, racism, sexism and ableism”.

Her report said that other problems included “too much hubris and too little humility” and a “defensiveness and denial” at the top of the Met that “starts from the position that nothing is wrong, speaking up is not welcome”.

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