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Met should be broken up if it can’t reform says Casey review

The force has allowed an imbalance to grow between well-resourced specialist units and a ‘denuded’ frontline

The Met should be broken up into national, specialist and London responsibilities to ensure the policing service to Londoners is prioritised if the force does not embark on ‘wholesale reform’, Baroness Casey’s review into the MPS has said.

The report which followed a year-long review in which officers across the service were visited and interviewed, said “radical structural options” such as dividing the Met up should be considered “if sufficient progress is not being made at the points of further review.”

The report stresses that the reforms required are on a similar scale to the Patten report which transformed the RUC into the PSNI as part of the Good Friday agreement.

It said: “It has also allowed the distance between New Scotland Yard and frontline policing teams to widen. Londoners see and rely on frontline officers the most day to day, but these officers feel demoralised and let down by their leaders.”

Asked at a NSY press conference whether the Met was an elitist organisation with well resourced specialist units that had thrown response, BCU RASSO and pubic protection units under the bus, Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley told Police Oracle:  “It is very clear that some of the day to day services for Londoners are where we are weakest.”

He said the inspectorate report which placed the Met into special measures broadly said the Met do “a great job” on the more complex areas but “day to day services to Londoners are much less reliable.”

Full time external support, not advisors

On the inspectorate Baroness Casey’s report said “the engage process holds no real consequences for the Met because HMICFRS can only comment on what they find.” It said the current structures of governance and scrutiny are weak and external people needed to be brought in on a full time basis  - not just as advisors  - to make sure reforms are carried through.  

On breaking up the Met Sir Mark said: “London is a big complex city. Starting to break up its policing would cause me concern that it would create more problems with boundaries than any advantages you might get with smaller organisations.”

He said that 60 per cent of terrorists live in London and 60 per cent of attacks take place there. “We want to reform and if we have to do some massive organisational surgery that will dominate,” he added.

‘We have got the balance wrong’

While national functions are funded separately and there were “people balancing issues” in other specialist teams that were “beyond our gift” he admitted that the Met had got the balance wrong. He also said that with a “big burst of recruitment” provided by the Uplift a lot of those new officers “land in local policing.”

The report said that at BCU level the case of a woman who had been raped and left in a coma would most likely be investigated by a trainee DC. The Commissioner said “sadly” this was true and was due to “fragility and capacity” in public protection units. He pointed out that rape reporting had quadrupled in a decade.

'Dire' evidence storage  

The report also said that the storage of evidence and other exhibits was “dire” with overcrowded fridges and freezers in police stations containing rape victim evidence kits that have to be kept closed with bungee ropes.

At an earlier press briefing to discuss her report Baroness Casey said that the issue of fridges kept coming up in conversations between officers and her team members.

“You spend hours and hours talking to different people and the word fridges kept coming up. The fridges and freezers in each of the police stations are crammed full. All officers and staff talk about having to push them to close them.” During last summer’s heatwave one of the freezers broke down completely which meant that the rape kits within them were not able to be used as evidence.

Deputy Commissioner Dame Lynne Owens said that “she personally” hadn’t seen the fridge position described in the report “but now I know about it I have to understand it.”

Problem units 

The Casey review contains strong criticisms of the culture within MO19  - the specialist firearms command -  and recommends that the Parliamentary, Diplomatic and Protection unit (where both Wayne Couzens and David Carrick served) should "be disbanded" in its current form.

The report describes the unit as "a dark corner of the Met where poor behavious can easily flourish." Officers feel unhappy, unloved and bored, and they are left isolated and unwatched by those above them. 

Baroness Casey told reporters: “I think the really interesting thing about Parliamentary and Diplomatic is they haven’t all been banging on the door saying we have problems yet I think they do have problems.”

Responding to this recommendation Sir Mark Rowley said: “It clearly needs radical reform. I can’t disband it overnight because I have to protect Parliament and the Diplomatic Embassies tomorrow. But we will be as radical and rapid as is practically possible.

“There is already a new leadership team at senior level. A third or half of the sergeants have changed in the last year. We are looking to get a higher turnover of staff to get some new ideas in there. There will also be different arrangements to change their facilities. “

Baroness Casey said that when the new Commissioner and deputy arrived six months ago they knew they were “walking into a tough situation” but she added that they must now know that the situation had become “dire.”

She said: “The Met says it wants to be the best in the world, it says it almost daily. Frankly, I want it to be the best police service for Londoners. It has to do a better job for them be they white, black, men, women, gay or straight.

A plane falling out of the sky

She also said she was surprised at the level of the Met's culture of denial. “When I arrived at the Met to my mind I thought the rape, abduction and murder of Sarah Everard would be the equivalent in any other organisation or industry of a plane falling out of the sky. That is not what I found.”

She said organisations like the Met take recommendations change them slightly and then press on. “Essentially what you need here is wholesale reform.”

She acknowledged that “a decade of austerity has made a huge impact” and there were choices made around austerity by previous mayors and commissioners which were wrong.

But she added: “I have looked at the Met seven days a week for a whole year. While the rest of us in public services such as teaching and children’s services…..know it can attract paedophiles because they want to get near children. In the same way the police service also attracts really dodgy, hateful people who like wielding power. Other public services have woken up to this but I don’t see that in the police service."

Commenting on the recent case of a Met officer keeping his job after being convicted of masturbating on a train she said:  "How can someone with indecent exposure on their record even be considered to be a police officer?

"There are countless officers who are absolutely sick of the Met defending the indefensible.”

See analysis of the report opposite.   

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