September 26 2023

Met’s misconduct system needs ‘radical and wholesale reform’

Met’s misconduct system needs ‘radical and wholesale reform’

The chairperson of a long-running review of professional standards in the Metropolitan Police has urged the Commissioner to ‘take necessary action by making urgent and effective improvements, not incremental reform’ to the force’s misconduct system. In a letter to Sir Mark Rowley, Baroness Casey noted that ‘a piecemeal approach to these issues is unlikely to work. ‘Radical and wholesale reform of the system is required to increase both public confidence in the Met and internal confidence in the misconduct process.’

‘We hope that the disgusting racism, sexism, misogyny and general incompetence exposed by the Casey Review will force the Met to radically rethink how it deals with allegations of misconduct,’ said Holly Bird from StopWatch. ‘Although the evidence set out in the letter is appalling to read, it can’t truthfully be said that any of it comes as a surprise – especially to marginalised communities and those with direct experience of police racism and sexism.’

In an interim report attached alongside the letter, Casey found that the length of misconduct investigations undertaken by the Met was a ‘huge source of frustration for officers and staff’, impacting ‘the individual making the allegation, the officer subject to the complaint, as well as operational effectiveness and the service to Londoners.’ Misconduct investigations were estimated to take around 400 days, with allegations not severe enough to warrant an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct still taking ‘nearly 350 days’.

This lack of timeliness was compounded by the fact that complaints raised by serving officers and staff, and allegations about sexual misconduct and other discriminatory behaviour, were less likely to receive a case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct. Since 2013, 55-60% of allegations made by officers, staff, or their family and 66% of finalised complaints about sexual misconduct and other forms of discriminatory behaviour were given a no case to answer decision.

The report also concluded that there were evident racial disparities in the misconduct system, highlighting concerns that ‘raising issues relating to racism, or other discrimination and wrongdoing often led to [BAME officers] being labelled a troublemaker’ and that the misconduct system was not sufficiently robust with White officers who breached professional standards. ‘In the most recent financial year, Black officers and staff were 81% more likely to receive a misconduct allegation than their White colleagues, Asian officers/staff were 55% more likely and Mixed Ethnicity officers/staff 41% more likely.’ The lack of clarity surrounding the definition of gross misconduct, the failure to adequately resource professional standards units, and the inability to identify and discipline officers with patterns of unacceptable behaviour, were further identified as contributing to regulatory failures within the force.

‘The problem identified in Louise Casey’s report is not just a Met police problem but common to many police forces across England and Wales.  However, from the cases we have seen misogyny and racism are endemic within the Met,’ said the Centre of Women’s Justice. ‘In addition to inadequate disciplinary processes and the failure to deal with multiple allegations, we note that in many cases following a criminal investigation where no further action is taken, there are frequently very inadequate misconduct investigations if one is conducted at all.’

‘Our findings strongly support Baroness Casey’s concerns about the Met failing to take issues raised seriously and leaving complainants unsupported.’

In a letter to Baroness Casey, the Met Commissioner stated that he was ‘appalled by the extent of the findings’ in the interim review and accepted ‘the conclusions in full’. ‘The public deserves a better Met and so do our good people who strive every day to make a positive difference to Londoners.’

‘Some changes can be made rapidly, but we know that others, which are more focused on culture, will take longer to establish and have effect, and will be informed by further insight from the final report.’