Six police forces, including London’s Metropolitan Police Service, have been placed under ‘special measures’ by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) this week following ‘systemic’ failings uncovered within forces in London, Greater Manchester, Cleveland, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire, and Wiltshire. This is the first time in the Met’s almost 200-year history that it has been judged to be in need of special measures (officially known as being in the ‘engage’ phase), and the highest ever number of forces placed in this phase simultaneously.
A recent inspection focusing on the Met – the results of which are yet to be formally published – found 14 new and significant failings. Concerns cover a broad range of issues, including inadequate responses to emergency calls, wide-ranging and substantial failures towards victims of crime, serious errors in stop and search practices, a ‘fundamentally flawed’ approach to tackling corruption, and subpar crime recording – with almost 70,000 crimes going unrecorded in London.
Earlier this week, in a letter to acting Met Commissioner Sir Stephen House – who replaced former leader Cressida Dick in February – Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr wrote that HMICFRS had had ‘substantial and persistent concerns’ about the Met ‘for a considerable time’. The letter also highlighted the ‘relatively young, inexperienced workforce’ of the Met, which had exacerbated the failings set out in the inspection report, following increased recruitment in recent years to make up for staff cuts made as part of austerity measures.
The failures detailed in the report come on top of a series of public scandals relating to the Met, such as the illegal strip-searching of a number children in schools, the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer and the subsequent police response, the inquiry into the Met’s investigation of serial killer Stephen Port, officers sharing pictures of the crime scene of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, and leaked messages in multiple different cases demonstrating racist, misogynistic, and homophobic attitudes among officers.