My respect goes out to the brave women who have come forward, but women should not need to be brave. The system should protect them and believe them when they speak out. On 20 September 2021, Byline Times reported that more than half of Met officers found guilty of sexual misconduct kept their jobs. A report today states that some women who report sexual abuse or misconduct may then see one of those officers, because the Met cannot guarantee that they are not using their power to do that. What has been exposed in the Met is structural and institutional, and I wonder whether the Secretary of State agrees with that or even understands it. Does she agree that Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, was right to sack Cressida Dick? The Secretary of State’s approach in the Chamber today, and the slow “kick the can down the road” or “do another review,” serves only to inflict more pain on women and girls. She needs to take that on board if she is to do her job properly.
We must also review all cases that the criminal police officers have presided over. If they are bad, they are bad—they are not just bad in one case; they are bad in all cases. In Brent, after the tragic murder of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, the police took pictures of their bodies. The pain that their mother goes through—I speak to her on a regular basis, and every time there is something like this it inflicts more triggering pain on people who have gone through it, and the police were slow to act. The Secretary of State can do something about this. The new commissioner, Mark Rowley, has said that he needs more support in being able to sack officers, not another review or report. He needs things to change. As chair of the London parliamentary Labour party, I wonder whether the Secretary of State is willing to listen to voices from the London PLP and work with us, as well as the Met Commissioner, to change the law on this issue.
Suella Braverman - Home Secretary
There are some fair points there. What I find instructive on this issue, albeit on an interim basis, is the interim report by Baroness Casey, which looked into the Met and its standards on vetting and procedures. It made for concerning reading. She is currently carrying out an in-depth inquiry into this subject, and she found that the Met does not fully support the local professional standards units to deal effectively with misconduct. Effectively, the structure relating to individual commands is not working, and there is uncertainty about what constitutes gross misconduct and what will be done about it. There are important lessons to be learned from Baroness Casey’s inquiry into the Met, so that we ensure that things such as this do not happen again.