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Met encounters bottlenecks in its misconduct and rogue officer drive

No revoked vetting gross incompetency hearings have yet been heard and only 44 per cent of misconduct hearings take place within 100 days of papers being issued

Over 200 individuals being investigated for misconduct have been put through the Met’s vetting process designed to fast track dismissals but not a single case has been resolved yet the MPS has confirmed.

The experimental process that the Met SMT took legal advice on at the beginning of this year and were told provided a legal loophole, has 10 appeal cases pending after vetting had been withdrawn but the gross incompetence board that sits to decide those cases has not sat in a single one yet.

DAC Stuart Cundy, the officer in overall charge of professional standards at the Met told a briefing at New Scotland Yard yesterday that back in April the SMT hoped that if an officer had their vetting clearance taken away the first gross incompetency hearings would be heard in May. “We are now sitting here in September and we have still not had our first hearing” he said

He said he expected that the first case will start in a month’s time but he admitted the process “had proved to be more complicated than we thought it might be.”

At the start of the process DAC Cundy said the Met intended to put about 30 cases through the process “but we have got over 200 cases into this system now.” He added: “We are literally updating our approach to turn the tap on more as well as ensuring that it is legally compliant and fair to officers and staff.”

As it stands a total of 10 officers and staff have had their vetting revoked. Some have appealed and are awaiting for gross incompetence hearings which unlike their misconduct equivalents, are held by a senior officer and not subject to a majority vote so he or she has the final say. Three officers who have had their vetting revoked have resigned before a hearing can be arranged.

When officers have their vetting revoked the MPS takes their warrant cards away and they are essentially “on gardening duty” doing no police work he said.

Over the last 12 months the Met have dismissed more than 100 officers for misconduct matters. DAC Cundy said for the next “year, two years and maybe longer” the Met is aiming to hold 30 misconduct hearings and 30 gross misconducts per month.  

In order to speed things up further, the Home Office reforms announced recently which will replace LQCs with chief officers and introduce a defined legal process to get rid of people through vetting, is eagerly awaited he added.

“I need that to be enacted as soon as possible,” DAC Cundy said. “The cases that are going through as we are digging deeper has highlighted that the whole process is too slow at this moment in time.”

DAC Cundy said one of the challenges the Met faces through the various reviews of conduct and criminal matters that have gone through is how many officers are currently unavailable to policing.

There are 201 officers suspended and 860 officers on restricted duties. “If you add those two figures together that is more than 1,000 police officers which is nearly the size of a small police force,” he said.

“It is a significant number which is why the Commissioner and I know we need to do things as quickly as we can because not all those individuals will have a case proven through misconduct or criminal cases. We need to get through them as quickly as we can because what we need is as many officers as possible out on the streets of London.”

Some of the process is out of the Met’s control DAC Cundy said. For example officers subject to criminal charges are not having their cases listed until March 2025 or beyond  - a delay of 18 months caused by court backlogs.

Some 275 misconduct cases are currently awaiting a hearing involving around 300 individual officers. A “significant proportion of those” relate to Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and discrimination. Once an officer has been issued with gross misconduct papers Police Regulation state that hearings should be held within 100 days after that. DAC Cundy said that only 44 per cent of cases are currently heard within that timescale.

He also gave an update on Operational Trawl, the MPS’s end of the 43 force operation  which searched the entire PND against the force's workforce. The Met completed their work earlier this month which involved 47,000 individual checks. Of all of those only 14 individuals have come to light for follow up investigations for potential misconduct matters.

Operation Leven – the review into the structure and culture of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection (PaDP) command where Wayne Couzens and David Carrick both worked, has led to the withdrawal of 30 armed officers' firearms tickets which is also having an operational impact confirmed DAC Laurence Taylor at the briefing.  

But despite Baroness Casey’s call for PaDP to be disbanded the review has gone for the reform approach  - a combination of stripping out the management and bringing in new blood; rotating officers in the command more frequently and increasing the number of women and BAME officers by 20 per cent.

They have also developed a new neighbourhood model for the command whereby instead of just standing on point duty officers will be more “engaged with the public” and the wider Met.  

The Casey report pointed out that PaDP was a unit predicated on overtime and officers were attracted to the role by the money and the fact that they could stay there for almost their whole service if they wanted.

With the command having a finite number of armed officers DAC Taylor admitted that “he didn’t have a box of replacements” that could be brought in overnight. It takes 12 to 18 months to train an armed officer to the levels required by PaDP. By 2025, though he said that the ambition was to have two thirds of that number rotated to have “a constant churn of people through that command.”

He also rejected former AC Neil Basu’s recent comments that the role should be farmed out to the military but confirmed the Met were in “long term conversations” with government and other stakeholders about possible alternative arrangements if they could be found.   

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