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21 March 2023

Is this the end of the Met Police?

An investigation has found it to be “institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic”, and raises the possibility of abolition.

By Freddie Hayward

The Metropolitan Police is “institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic” an investigation into its culture and standards has found. The report makes for depressing reading.

The child protection service has “major inadequacies”. Female officers and staff face misogyny on a routine basis. The vetting process for police officers is inadequate. “Predatory and unacceptable behaviour has been allowed to flourish,” the report says. “Eye-watering force” is used against black people. Louise Casey, a crossbench peer and former victims’ commissioner, found that Britain’s largest police force was more concerned about protecting its own reputation than protecting Londoners.

There will now be a debate over how to respond to the report. The Met commissioner, Mark Rowley, said the revelations in the report were “ghastly” but that he would not disband the parliamentary and diplomatic service – for which Wayne Couzens, who raped and murdered Sarah Everard, and David Carrick, convicted of 48 rapes in January, worked – as recommended.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has said that Casey’s recommendations should be implemented in full. The change required is monumental. Casey argues that what is needed is comparable to the transformation of the Royal Ulster Constabulary into the Police Service of Northern Ireland in the 1990s. If the degradation and malpractice ingrained in the force, which accounts for a quarter of policing in England and Wales, is not addressed then Casey raises the prospect of abolishing the Met and starting again.

The problems, the report finds, are linked to austerity. Cuts imposed by the coalition and Conservative governments since 2010 have resulted in a budget 18 per cent smaller in real terms. Front-line services have suffered the most. Current plans to hire 20,000 more police officers will merely replace those cut during austerity and, even then, the report says this was a missed opportunity to increase the diversity of officers. You can add the Casey report to a long list of indictments of the Conservatives’ approach to public services.

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The report means the government will have to defend its record on crime (as will Khan) at a time when it wants to talk about its Illegal Migration Bill. Labour will welcome a debate on crime, particularly given its focus on police standards. Keir Starmer has made crime one of his five priorities. Whether he will promise more money to fix the problems in the police remains to be seen.

This piece first appeared in the Morning Call newsletter; subscribe here.

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[See also: “Woke policing” isn’t to blame for rising crime]

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