A damning report into the Metropolitan Police has concluded that it is institutionally racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynistic. Can it ever be reformed?
The murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens, a serving Metropolitan Police officer, shocked the UK and made headlines around the world:
“In Britain, a London police officer has been sentenced to life in prison for the kidnap, rape and murder of a young woman. In a case that has caused anguish across the UK, a court heard how PC Wayne Couzens pretended to arrest Sarah Everard and used his police handcuffs to kidnap her.”BBC News
Wayne Couzens was given a rare whole life term for his crimes – which means he will die in jail. But the fallout from the scandal continues to plague the Metropolitan Police.
Some of his colleagues in the police force had been aware that he was a dangerous sexual predator and had even nicknamed him “The Rapist’”.
Other victims have claimed that Sarah Everard would still be alive if their reports about Couzens’ offending had been taken seriously in the days before her murder.
A parliamentary inquiry found that the Metropolitan Police breached fundamental human rights when they broke up a vigil for Sarah Everard in South London:
[Sound of protests]
The handling of the Sarah Everard case – and a number of other scandals involving sexism and misogyny at the Met – would ultimately cost the commissioner, Cressida Dick, her job.
It is against this backdrop, that the former victims’ commissioner, Baroness Louise Casey, launched her year-long review into the conduct of the Metropolitan Police.
And the findings contained within her 363-page report are absolutely damning:
“There is without doubt a discriminatory culture right across the Metropolitan Police. It’s not in pockets, it pervades the whole organisation, um, and I think that institutional racism, institutional sexism, institutional misogyny and homophobia are definitely present across the organisation.”BBC News
The Casey Review – which includes harrowing testimony from officers about how they have been treated by colleagues – has found that:
Freezers used to store victim rape kits were overfilled. One broke down in the 2022 heatwave meaning rape cases had to be dropped – putting women and children at risk.
Around a third of women in the Met Police say they have experienced sexism, with around 12 per cent of female officers experiencing either sexual harassment or assault.
Complaints were “likely to be turned against” ethnic minority officers, with Black officers significantly more likely to be in the misconduct system than white colleagues.
Casey also noted that Black people in London are ‘over-policed’ and significantly more likely to be stopped and searched, batoned and Tasered than Londoners of different races.
And the detailed review found that one in five lesbian, gay and bisexual Metropolitan Police officers had experienced homophobia at work.
Her conclusion is that the Metropolitan Police Service must now be forced to clean up its act… or it faces the prospect of being disbanded.
“I think the Met is not able to assure all of us that its officers are of sufficient integrity and standards to be serving police officers. So, it needs to clean itself up.”BBC News
So, what happens now?
The home secretary, Suella Braveraman, offered this response to Baroness Casey’s review:
“The report is clear that there are systemic and chronic problems with leadership and culture and what we need to do is change the culture, change the practice and change the systems in place that are running and regulating the Met.”Sky News
The Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, added that the findings are accurate – but that some of the details had blindsided him:
“It’s upsetting, it’s angering, it’s frustrating. We have let Londoners down. I’m very, very clear about that. The findings are brutal and I think they are accurate. Like lots of others, I have to reflect on why didn’t I see the depth of these issues. Why didn’t I see the toxicity that Louise is calling out in this report?”BBC News
But can the Metropolitan Police reform itself? Here’s Mark Rowley again:
“I’ve been more outspoken about the challenges we face than probably any commissioner in decades. Month by month, Londoners will see the issues dealt with. They’ll see policing improve and we’ll make the difference that people expect.”BBC News
Others are more sceptical: one woman who reported being raped to the Met Police called the force an “abhorrent institution” and said there was no chance of reforming it.
Baroness Doreen Lawrence – the mother of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in London in the 90s – said the report laid bare the challenges facing the Met.
So, what needs to be done?
Baroness Casey says there are “systemic and fundamental problems in how the Met is run” and the problem with the force is not its size but “inadequate management”.
t the current Metropolitan Police commissioner, Mark Rowley, is committed to addressing disciplinary issues and misconduct in the police force.
But Baroness Casey says that London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, and Mr Rowley must now work together to fix the organisation. If not: it may well be the end of the Met as we know it.
This episode was written by Rhys James and mixed by Karla Patella.