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Revamp recruitment to tackle Met corruption

Seema Dosaj
September 22, 2023

The seemingly never-ending stream of harrowing incompetence being revealed within the Metropolitan Police is deeply concerning. Revelations this week from the Met themselves that around 60 officers per month could face dismissal over the next two years, underscores the gravity of the issue. With over 1,000 Met officers currently either on suspended or restricted duties, with a further 1,600 cases of alleged domestic or sexual violence involving officers having gone unaddressed, the situation is alarming and has forced the Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Professionalism, Stuart Cundy, to admit that it will take a number of years before the presence of corrupt and incompetent officers can be fully addressed.

It's clear that the Metropolitan Police, which has recently faced numerous scandals, including those of serving armed officer Wayne Couzens, who raped and murdered Sarah Everard, and David Carrick, who was unmasked as a serial rapist, has a long and challenging journey to rebuild public trust and integrity within its ranks.

The Met, in the wake of Carrick’s life sentence, reviewed 1,600 cases where officers had faced allegations of domestic or sexual violence over the past 10 years, but no action was taken. They have since launched 450 live investigations into these cases.

The Met has also divulged figures about disciplinary processes, including: 100 officers being sacked for gross misconduct in the past year, up by 66% on the normal rate; and 201 officers are currently suspended, up from 69 in September last year.

Meanwhile, 275 are awaiting a gross misconduct hearing, a significant proportion of which involved alleged violence against women and girls, compared with 136 last year. The number of reports from the public and officers of alleged misconduct has also doubled.

The force’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, the troubled elite squad in which Couzens and Carrick both served, has reportedly had a third of its staff cleared out in a major overhaul. It was singled out in a damning review by Baroness Louise Casey last year, which painted a bleak picture of a male-heavy team where offensive comments were seen as banter and supervision was minimal.

Laurence Taylor, the Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations, admitted that unhealthy work cultures had developed in the unit, partly due to a lack of diversity, poor leadership and a sense of disconnection from the rest of the force.The force’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, the troubled elite squad in which Couzens and Carrick both served, has reportedly had a third of its staff cleared out in a major overhaul.

It was singled out in a damning review by Baroness Louise Casey last year, which painted a bleak picture of a male-heavy team where offensive comments were seen as banter and supervision was minimal. Laurence Taylor, the Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations, admitted that unhealthy work cultures had developed in the unit, partly due to a lack of diversity, poor leadership and a sense of disconnection from the rest of the force.

Addressing sexism, racism, and workplace culture is a multifaceted challenge Quote

It is clear from the Met’s openness in disclosing these figures that they believe communication and open dialogue with the public is the key to regaining public trust, but there is clearly much more to be done. There have been concerns regarding police recruitment, vetting, training, and broader issues of sexism, racism, and workplace culture within law enforcement more generally for quite some time and it is clear that these demand immediate attention and reform.

The recruitment process needs to be reevaluated and revamped to attract a diverse pool of candidates. Vetting procedures are essential in ensuring that candidates undergo thorough background checks to identify any red flags, including histories of violence, racism, or misconduct. Psychological evaluations for such high-stress roles should also be considered.

Moreover, training programs should emphasise de-escalation techniques, conflict resolution, and cultural sensitivity. Addressing sexism, racism, and workplace culture is a multifaceted challenge. A zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment is imperative, and reporting mechanisms should be in place to encourage others to come forward with any such concerns.

Additionally, creating an inclusive and respectful workplace culture will prove essential for retaining diverse talent and fostering trust within the force. Leadership plays a crucial role in setting the tone for organisational culture, and senior officers should lead by example in promoting diversity and inclusion.

Public dialogue and scrutiny are indispensable. Transparency in police practices, including the release of data will help hold law enforcement agencies accountable for their actions. Independent oversight bodies should be empowered to investigate allegations of misconduct, ensuring that there is a checks-and-balances system in place.

Addressing these concerns will be essential for building trust back up and ensuring the professionalism and effectiveness of Met personnel. Public dialogue and scrutiny are vital for holding police forces accountable and driving the necessary reforms. By proactively addressing these issues, police departments can work towards a future where law enforcement is more equitable, just, and responsive to the needs of all citizens.

Seema dosaj

Seema Dosaj is a Managing Partner at London-based Berris Law.

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