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The Casey review: PSUs are under-resourced and “a dumping ground”

Police Oracle examines the fine detail of Baroness Casey’s interim findings of the Met’s ailing internal misconduct system

The Casey review’s dip sampling of some cases where officers are still serving despite plenty of evidence of behaviour which includes criminal conduct will make all the headlines.

But the report also paints a picture in which the units responsible for investigating misconduct are struggling badly.

One chief superintendent told Baroness Casey’s team that “PSUs are like the dumping ground for staff… it is not a place where people aspire to end up”.

The review found there is very little training for PSUs, there is a high turnover of staff and as detectives are not permitted to work in local PSUs there is also a lack of investigatory capacity.

No access to Centurion 

But dealing with misconduct out of PSD on division was also identified as an issue. The review found that supervisors did not have access to the tools that would help them join up issues and identify troubling patterns of behaviour. BCUs do not have access to the Met’s Centurion misconduct data system or information about an officer that might help put together a picture of risk such as declarable associations or business interests.

HMICFRS has identified the Professional Standards operating model within the Met as a cause for concern.

The review concluded: “Evidence suggests a small cadre of Met officers and staff with a pattern of serious and repeated conduct issues which are not being picked up early enough (if at all).”

Tesco sack people for less 

This in turn has an impact on internal confidence in the misconduct system, as officers and staff see poor and repeated behaviour go unchallenged.

One BCU Inspector told the review:"We don’t want this behaviour in the Met…If we worked for Tesco we’d be able to sack someone for less”.

The review also found that “the length of misconduct investigations in the Met is a source of huge frustration for officers and staff.”

On teams with officers who have their duties restricted whilst waiting for the outcome of a misconduct investigation, line managers reported "serious drains on team capacity and time and that this is a particular issue on BCUs which already feel stretched and under-resourced," the report said.

While most allegations are solved within a year (62%), around 20% take over two years to finalise, and in some extreme cases, allegations can be open for years

"It takes forever"

One PC told the review: “The Met take forever to deal with it, absolutely forever, whether it’s right or wrong, they just keep people hanging on and hanging on. How long can an investigation go on for? It’s just wrong. Totally wrong.”

A superintendent told them “we are not exiting people, or bringing people back to work, fast enough.”

Where there is a case to answer for gross misconduct and a hearing takes place, resultant dismissals have been falling both in volume and as a proportion of all outcomes.

This decline the report says, coincides with the 2016 introduction of Legally Qualified Chairs (LQCs) to head police misconduct hearings.

But it also warns that “caution is required as this reduction may be due to the decisions made in staff gross misconduct hearings or accelerated hearings where Legally Qualified Chairs are not involved.”

The review says the fact “that a Chief Constable is not in charge of who can be dismissed from their force is a source of frustration among Chief Constables in the Met and beyond.”

Poor reporting experience 

The poor experience of staff who have reported misconduct is a feature of Baroness Casey’s report. The review team were told that supervisors and managers are actively dissuading their staff from reporting misconduct thereby “institutionalising mistrust in the system”

One officer said they felt they needed to report wrongdoing for the first time in their career. Initially, the first supervisor…said ‘I don’t want to know’”

Another chief inspector alleged that people are being actively talked out of reporting misconduct.

“When people report, the response is ‘are you willing to write a statement and put pen to paper?’ Those supervisors say ‘do you want to do something about this? I am not sure something will happen”

The review concludes: “Many officers and staff told us they are made to feel like they are the one with the problem when they raise a conduct issue.

Are you willing to write a statement?

“These experiences reflect a deep mistrust of the misconduct system. Any initiatives which aim to encourage Met employees to report wrongdoing will continue to be undermined unless the system responds more effectively to those who have come forward.”

The data also showed that when an allegation related to racism, sexual misconduct or other discriminatory behaviour is made, it is less likely to receive a case to answer decision than other issues. “However, it is important to note that this is the area in which the data quality is the least reliable," the reoport stresses.."This means that our Review has likely substantially undercounted allegations linked to racism and sexual misconduct."

The dip sampled cases in which officers were identified as having multiple (and proven) misconduct cases against them is an emotive signal that internal systems are failing and should represent a “line in the sand,” for the Met according to Baroness Casey.

IOPC can reopen cases 

Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley told a briefing before the publication of the interim Casey report that there are “hundreds of officers” who shouldn’t be serving.

While he said the Met can’t legally reopen some of these cases he noted that the IOPC does have the power to do so.

The Casey data says that since 2013 20% (1,809) of the officers and staff with any misconduct case against them were involved in more than one misconduct case. Most of these individuals (1,263) were involved in two separate misconduct cases in the period, over 500 officers or staff were involved in three to five different misconduct cases and 41 officers were involved in 6 or more separate misconduct cases (ranging from 6-19). Only 13 (0.71%) of these 1,809 officers and staff with more than one misconduct case against them had been dismissed, The dismissal rate for all officers and staff with a misconduct allegation against them is 5%.

Evidence from the 2021 Review of Special Case Hearings by the London Policing Ethics Panel shows that those who are dismissed have a higher number of previous conduct issues made against them whether substantiated or not.

The report concludes: “The key issues here is that each conduct issue is viewed separately. Allegations are dealt with individually and as far as we can see, connections are not made to prior concerns raised which fall short of formal misconduct. Crucially, this means repeated or escalating misconduct is not spotted, missing those who potentially pose most risk to others.

Blinkered approach 

“A recent Met report corroborates this finding, highlighting ‘a blinkered approach’ to investigations which focuses too narrowly on the presenting issue. The report identified 24 instances where the same officer had been investigated on two or more occasions for behaviour linked to sexual misconduct and domestic abuse - but found that these previous allegations had not been taken into account when considering if there was a case to answer for the alleged misconduct or its severity.”

The Casey review also highlighted the underuse of Regulation 13 to deal with probationers who should clearly not be in policing.

Reasons for underuse included the amount of paper work required, fear about employment tribunals, and the need to provide ‘clear and incontrovertible’ evidence of problems. It also heard that the rotation arrangements whereby a probationer serves six months on a team then moves to another team means problem behaviour is not identified or is ‘passed on’ to the next supervisor.

The report says: “There were many examples of unacceptable behaviour going unchecked for long periods, including cases where officers had lied on their vetting, failed their exams, and been involved in misconduct issues and were still not being removed. Often, these examples are well known locally by officers and staff, and the lack of effective action both further undermines confidence in the Met’s ability to deal with poor behaviour and harms the reputation of the new intake.”

Case study

Dip Sample Case Study 1 involves an officer with 11 misconduct cases raised against him for cases involving abuse, sexual harassment and assault, fraud, improper disclosure of information and distribution of an explicit image of himself. The officer received a formal sanction in relation to the first misconduct case but was not dismissed. By the time this decision had been made, a further six misconduct cases had already been raised against him. After receiving this formal sanction, a further four misconduct cases were raised against him and the officer then received a further formal sanction but was not dismissed. The officer is serving in the Metropolitan Police.

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