London should see “month-on-month” improvement in policing, says Met chief
Londoners need to see progress in policing the British capital “month by month, quarter by quarter”, the head of the Metropolitan Police said on Tuesday, as criticism of the force’s culture intensified following a damning report.
Responding to Baroness Louise Casey’s view that Britain’s biggest police force has been found to be institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic, Sir Mark Rowley admitted he had a huge task but insisted change had to happen.
Rowley, who was appointed Met commissioner last year, said the findings of the report – which was drawn up following the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by an on-duty Met officer in 2021 – would be incorporated into the reforms and provide a basis for a “fresh start”. “.
“There is a long mission of change here. But people have to see progress month-on-month, quarter-on-quarter, and certainly after a few years there should be a significant change that people will start to recognise,” he told the BBC.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman told MPs she supported Rowley’s plans but warned of a “long road to recovery”. Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer has warned that the UK’s model of consent policing is “at risk”.
As well as findings of institutional racism, sexism and homophobia, Casey’s report also revealed serious organizational failings within the Met, stating that the force was failing to protect not only women and children, but also women and ethnic minorities from police abuse .
Its latest review – which followed an interim report in October last year – condemned the Met’s handling of misconduct proceedings, noting that female and ethnic minority staff had been harassed and abused.
Rowley said he has identified “too many cases where there are still problem officers in the organization” and that the backlog is being addressed, with some officers suspended and hundreds of officers restricted from the agency pending the outcome of investigations.
He also said he has applied for new licenses from the government to speed up disciplinary processes and is putting more resources back into neighborhood policing.
But Rowley rejected Casey’s suggestion that the Met should be disbanded and stripped of its national functions, including counter-terrorism oversight, if it did not change, stressing that it should focus on restoring public trust.
“We can create chaos and create the appearance of business and energy by doing something big structural. . . it’s really just going to be on its way to get below the surface, dig deep, lift rocks, find out what’s there and change the culture,” he said.
Baroness Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence, whose murder in 1993 prompted the Macpherson test, which six years later issued the landmark finding that the Met was institutionally racist, Casey’s review said the force was “rotten to the core”.
But like Rowley, Braverman rejected Casey’s judgment that racism and misogyny within the Met was “institutional”.
“It’s not a useful term. It is an ambiguous, controversial and politically charged term and risks making it difficult for officers to regain the trust of communities,” he said.
Starmer responded by saying that policing problems were driving up the crime rate. He promised to unify vetting standards across forces in England and Wales if elected to government, saying it was “extraordinary” that there were no uniform rules setting out how recruits should be carefully vetted.
Starmer added that unlike most police forces around the world, UK police are “caretakers, not guards”, rooted in a “strong tradition of consent policing”.
“This vital tradition is under threat and without the biggest overhaul of policing since [Met] I fear for his future,” he said.