Another week, another damning report into the conduct of the Metropolitan Police.
This time, the Independent Office for Police Conduct has condemned Scotland Yard for a range of bad behaviour including racism, misogyny, harassment and offensive social media messages.
An investigation focussed in Charing Cross was launched after a complaint that an officer had sex with a drunk person in a station, but went on to discover more.
Messages included Met officers joking about ‘raping’ female colleagues, ‘killing black children’, and beating their partners. One of the worst examples was a male officer telling a female colleague: “I would happily rape you” and “if I was single I would happily chloroform you”.
To read this content is horrifying and disgusting, but it’s important for the public to know the truth. Sadly, it is far from the first time something like this has happened under the current Commissioner’s watch.
The question is, how many bad apples does it take until Cressida Dick recognises that the tree is rotten!? This is an institutional problem.
Cressida Dick simply has to go.
If we take a step back and look at the story dominating the news – Downing Street parties, many were shocked by the Met Police’s initial refusal to investigate, with many asking how can the met turn a blind eye to such breaches.
But the truth is, when you look closely at the Met’s record under the stewardship of Cressida Dick, this behaviour is true to form. The Charing Cross report is simply the latest in a long line of examples.
Cressida Dick is damaged and she is so tin-eared about the problem that there is no avenue that points to her continuing in this role. Black people have had a history of distrust with the police and the latest revelations will not come as any surprise, but now I have women and the LGBT+ community that are sharing their worries with me.
I have and still work with some amazing police officers on a daily basis – whether it is here in Brent coordinating support for residents, or the support I receive in Parliament when reporting abuse and threats made against me. It is because I know so many good officers that I feel compelled to speak up and call out its failing leadership. All our communities, as well as good officers, simply deserve better.
I have a dream team of officers whom I would like to see in top positions, I thought about naming them in this article but I am not sure whether that would do them more harm than good. But let me say this: every Borough Commander who has worked in Brent has gone on to be promoted, and I have worked with many from the Black Police Association and we shared the desire to make our streets safer and to treat all people with respect and fairness.
The Met’s disastrous handling of party gate, first refusing to investigate despite mounting evidence and then blocking parts of Sue Gray’s investigation, is making people question whether we need to scrap the Met and start again.
I have definitely come to the conclusion that the Met should stop investigating the Met. Starting with the parties at Number 10 – Met officers were involved because they are stationed at Number 10, therefore another police force should investigate. Especially as we have recently found out that Sajid Javid’s brother is the deputy commander and part of the decision-making team responsible for the initial non-investigation into Number 10 parties.
And there should be an independent investigation team, a bit like jury service with professional guidance. After all, as Robert Peel said, the police are the public and the public are the police. It is nice to have friends in high office but the law is supposed to apply to all of us equally, no matter of wealth or contacts.
There are so many cases recently that it is easy to forget the Met was found to be institutionally corrupt after an inquiry into the unsolved 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan. The report even directly criticised Dick for hampering the inquiry.
Yet Johnson extended Dick’s contract for a further two years. What on earth did she do in her tenure to warrant a two-year extension?
The institutional problems and denial run deep.
Following the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, the Macpherson report found in 1999 that the Met Police were institutionally racist. Cressida Dick was responsible for the implementation of the recommendations and a decade later she still hasn’t implemented all the recommendations. This is why progress is so slow. It should come as no surprise that official figures show Black people are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people.
I experienced it myself when I was pulled over, along with a friend, in Hackney in 2020 due to an officer ‘error’ inputting the registration. It was dehumanising, being surrounded by at least three police cars lights flashing but it happens regularly to people of colour.
The fact that Cressida Dick has dismissed any suggestion that officers unfairly target black people, and refuses to back efforts to fix this problem, is deeply concerning. But after several high-profile failings, I’m confident that the public at large are starting to take notice.
Two police officers were jailed for sending pictures of the mutilated dead bodies of two Black women, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, and posting them on a WhatsApp group entitled ‘A-Team’ which had more than 40 officers on it. I still want to know who are these officers, what punishment will they all face, and why are they called the ‘A-team’?
This type of behaviour, as we have seen from the Operation Hotton report, shows that it is rampant and until every single one of those officers are sacked, and there is a guarantee that they can never serve in any police force again, then we will not see substantial change in the Met. This means that corrupt, racist, misogynistic, homophobic an ableist police officers should not be allowed to simply resign. The public need to be protected from these people.
After Sarah Everard was murdered by Met police officer Wayne Couzens, who can forget the disgraceful handling of the vigil in which women were arrested and pinned down despite doing nothing wrong. It was as though they were being taught a lesson for daring to protest. The excuse that it was to protect the public due to Covid rings even more hollow, bearing in mind the rampant frequent parties at Number 10.
In addition, Wayne Couzens, and another officer from the same department who has been arrested, were at the top of their profession in the police and it has left women in Parliament feeling nervous and unstable knowing these police officers – who apparently have psychological tests every 6 months – were left free to rape and murder women. We are left asking, how many more of them are there?
And only last week, the Met were forced to apologise to Dr Koshka Duff for the “sexist, derogatory and unacceptable language used” whilst her clothes were being cut from her as she was being strip-searched in 2013, all because she offered a legal advice card to a black teenager during his stop-and-search.
Again, a culture exposed in the latest report. Women stepping out of line in their eyes. This violence is unacceptable for anyone, but for an officer with all those powers it should be a jailable offence. It is still not clear whether each and every one of those officers have been sacked and barred from joining any other police force.
These examples are sadly endless – but all under Cressida Dick’s watch. It may not have started with her but it definitely has not stopped with her. Officers do not feel scared enough to curtail their behaviour and we need someone who is determined to cut this cancer out and uproot the Met rotten tree.I want to see a fresh approach to policing. Just like your football team, if you want good results then you need to have your best players on the pitch. It’s about time the Met did this in its leadership positions. Like a lot of London Members of Parliament, I can provide some names of officers who would do a good job.
Let us pick the top officers for the job. Police officers who know the value of good community policing, these are the types of officers, but more importantly the types of people, we need leading the team.
I have had two meetings this week with Met police officers and I’m going to keep working to reform the police and improve its training programmes. Our police forces should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, only then will it be fit for purpose.In the UK we police by consent, and we need the renewed consent of all communities, we need a new social contract if we are to ensure fairness and justice for all.
(Published on website a month after actual publication)