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Casey report confirms Met Police racism is institutional

Muddassar Ahmed
April 4, 2023

Last week we travelled back to 1999 and re-learned that the Met Police is institutionally sexist, racist, and homophobic.

Surprising? Not in the slightest.

It took the awful murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met officer to spark the independent investigation by Baroness Louise Casey into the institution.

The blame game and finger pointing reactions to Baroness Casey’s review is as predictable as the shocking findings in the report itself.

The Casey Report affirms some of the experiences that marginalized communities in the world’s most multicultural city have had with the country’s largest police force. Women and minorities have long complained they have been victims of police bigotry and mistreatment.

The report also exposes how officers themselves are targets of racism, sexism and homophobia within the force. One Sikh officer’s beard was cut in a racist attack and one in five LGBT+ officers say they had been bullied.

This culture of fear and intimidation has led to an erosion of trust in the force’s ability to do its job, with one officer warning in the report, “You don’t want to be a rape victim in London. Anyone who relies on policing in London for anything I’m scared for.”

Sadly, the Sarah Everard murder was not an isolated incident. It’s one of several killings in London that have exposed the Met’s deadly and reckless behaviour – with minorities offering bearing the brunt.

In 2005, Brazilian national Jean Charles de Menezes was killed by armed police after being mistakenly identified as terrorist. During the anti-G20 protests in 2009, newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson died after an unprovoked attack by a riot police officer. And in 2011, armed police shot dead Mark Duggan in Tottenham, sparking nationwide riots.

Despite the long history of misconduct and the explosive admonishment of this report, it appears neither the government nor the opposition are taking it seriously.

Suella Braverman, the minister with ultimate responsibility over policing, offered little more than hollow soundbites in response to the report and dismissed the idea of breaking up the Met police entirely – something that may well be inevitable.

What did stand out in Braverman’s response was her insistence that Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, was equally responsible for the recommended reforms - a nakedly partisan attempt at associating the opposition to the conduct of the Met. Conveniently Braverman avoided mentioning her own responsibility over policing or the fact that her own party has been in government for the last 13 years.

At a time when public confidence in institutions is ebbing by the day, it’s reckless for officials to politicize such a serious issue. Sadiq Khan has been Mayor of London for eight years but the Casey Report suggest the Met’s history of discrimination and sexism long predates Khan’s tenure. In fact, the 1999 McPherson Report described and defined the Metropolitan Police as an “institutionally racist” force. Evidently, little has changed in almost twenty-five years.

What is needed is far greater than just more police officers. We need a root and branch reform of a Met police force that suffers from deep systemic and cultural flaws.

Accountability is desperately required within the Met. To remove the rot, a zero-tolerance policy must be applied to make misconduct and bigoted ideology within the force categorically unacceptable.

We need a root and branch reform of a Met police force that suffers from deep systemic and cultural flaws. Quote

Baroness Casey’s report outlined 16 major recommendations the Met must implement to restore, “public trust and confidence.” If these recommendations aren’t carried out, we will likely see increasing numbers of Londoners unwilling to be policed by a force so reluctant take responsibility for its own actions.

We need only look at America - where the murder of George led to widescale unrest - to recognize how fundamental distrust in an institutionally broken policing system can contribute to dangerous levels of national instability.

And even if the Casey Report’s recommendations were carried out – which, let’s be honest, few trust they will – there are still major social issues contributing to police force’s being overloaded that remain.

As the Chairman of Bow Food Bank, I’ve seen a sharp rise in people accessing our services. We face troubling economic news, even unprecedented levels of hunger and food shortages. This is coinciding with a breakdown in state services and questions about our ability to empower our youth. On top of this the ongoing collapse of our courts system is ensuring that only 5% of sexual crimes are prosecuted.

All these major societal issues must be addressed in parallel for effective police reform to stand a chance.

Ultimately, the British public, who already have a record loss of confidence in the nation’s institutions, will no longer stand for the much needed reform of the nation’s largest police force being reduced to little more than political window dressing. And with UK General Elections only a year and a half away, it’s high time our political parties devised genuine proposals for the root and branch reform the Met has long needed.

Mudassar

Muddassar Ahmed is the managing partner of Unitas Communications; a former UK Government independent advisor; and Chair of Bow Food Bank, one of the largest independent food banks in London.

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