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Met admits 'cumulative impact' of scandals as HMIC steps in

The Met’s embattled leadership is being given extra support after a critical review by inspectors.

The Metropolitan Police’s senior management team is being given additional support after a HM Inspectorate decided to place the force in special measures.

For the first time in its history, the force is being placed in the first stage of a turnaround programme and joins Cleveland Police and GMP who are also currently in that process.

The full PEEL assessment report by HMIC Matt Parr is yet to be published but a letter sent by Mr Parr to the Met has outlined the main areas of concern. 

These include a substandard response to emergency calls, “barely adequate” crime recording and a backlog of child abuse referrals.

The letter said failures have been exacerbated by the number of young and inexperienced recruits brought in as part of the national drive to replace thousands of officers cut during austerity measures.

Mr Parr wrote to acting Met Commissioner Sir Stephen House, saying the organisation has had “substantial and persistent concerns” about the force “for a considerable time”.

These included the findings of a damning report in March which said the force’s approach to tackling corruption was “fundamentally flawed” and “not fit for purpose”.

In the letter, seen by the PA news agency, Mr Parr said: “These systemic failures were not just in relation to counter-corruption related specialist matters but more generalist matters too, such as the quality of basic supervision provided to officers.

“In this respect, the gravity of the matter is amplified by the presence of a relatively young, inexperienced workforce – a consequence of the Metropolitan Police Service’s increased recruitment enabled by the police uplift programme.”

The PEEL inspection had raised “further systemic concerns”, he said.

These included:

In its own statement the force said it "was talking to the inspectorate about next steps." It added: "We recognise the cumulative impact of events and problems that the Met is dealing with. We understand the impact this has had on communities and we share their disappointment.

"We are determined to be a police service Londoners can be proud of."

The initial HMI view was that the force’s top team, led by acting Commissioner Sir Stephen House, could tackle the concerns. 

But new Chief Inspector Andy Cooke took the decision to go further and order an improvement team in.

The new HMI intervention is on top of two other official reviews that resulted from the Sarah Everard case. They are due to report by the end of the year.

One of the priorities for the improvement team will be detoxifying the operating environment.

Met Fed leader Ken Marsh had already told the London Assembly that his members are tired of being repeatedly accused of failings dating back years.

A senior Fed figure told Police Oracle they shouldn’t have to carry the can: “They’ve had a tough time already as it is.”

The Met had already changed its area boundary to increase applications and then officered a cash bonus to people in surrounding force areas – which Police and Crime Commissioners claimed had broken a gentleman’s agreement not to do.

Met insiders say the crux problem is the lack of supervising officers and not having enough officers to meet the volume of crime on the capital's streets since the start of austerity.

Senior officers warned that the decision to abolish borough commanders in a bid to save cash - and abolish neighbourhood teams at the same time - was a mistake.

The force created Basic Crime Units (BCUs) dividing up the 32 London boroughs into 12 groups.

"You cannot be effective radioing from the back seat of a car as you're being blue lighted from one incident to another," a Met officer said.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said that the intervention by HMIC validated his decision to demand an improvement plan from the Met.

He said: “Unlike many others, I have long been clear that wide-ranging reforms are urgently needed for the Met to regain the trust and confidence of Londoners – which is so vital to policing by consent.

“A series of appalling scandals have not only exposed deep cultural problems but have damaged the confidence of Londoners in the capital’s police service. 

“The decision by the HMIC to now move the Met into special measures has laid bare the substantial performance failings by the force.

“As I have been saying for some time, Londoners deserve better. That’s why we now need to see nothing less than a new contract forged between the police and the public in London. This means root and branch reforms and systemic change to the Met’s performance and culture.”

It adds to the strained relationship between City Hall and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

She said: “I expect the police to get the basics right. It is clear the Metropolitan Police Service is falling short of these expectations which is why I support the action that HMICFRS has taken today to highlight their failings – and I expect the Met and the London Mayor to take immediate action to begin addressing them.”

The impact of the Met’s problems has impacted on neighbouring forces.

Thames Valley’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, questioned whether the Met was too big to handle.

Matthew Barber said: “I don’t take any pleasure in this headline but it’s been clear for a long time that the Met needs some big changes. The whole of policing must come together to support the Met in this change but now’s the time for a fundamental look at the scale and role of the Metropolitan Police.”

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