Metropolitan police Metropolitan police. Photo: Andy Thornley / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Terina Hine argues that the horror stories in the Casey report show there is no way of reforming the London police force

Louise Casey’s report published today into the Metropolitan police is damning and deeply disturbing, but its conclusion, that the Met is ‘institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic’ comes as little surprise to most Londoners.

The report, commissioned in response to Sarah Everard’s murder, confirms everyone’s worst nightmares about the state of the capital’s police. The rot is so entrenched that Casey was unable to rule out the possibility that other murderers and rapists remain lurking in its ranks.

The report talks of a toxic ‘culture of denial’ in the Met, and right on cue, the current commissioner, Mark Rowley, denied Casey’s conclusion that the force was institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic. The ‘label’ he suggested, was politically charged and unhelpful. This view was later supported by the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman.

Rowley also rejected Casey’s recommendation to disband the parliamentary and diplomatic service, the service for which both Wayne Couzens, who raped and murdered Sarah Everard, and David Carrick, who was convicted of 48 counts of rape in January, worked. The team was singled out by Casey as a ‘dark corner’ of the force.

It is hard to believe that the force can reform under Rowley’s leadership – any authority he had was lost when he failed to accept the full conclusions of Casey’s independent review. He along with his force also suffers from institutional denial and deflection.

The horror stories revealed in the report’s 363 pages disclose a series of appalling episodes, many followed by empty promises from senior officers.

The stories include one from a female officer, who after reporting being raped multiple times by a colleague was forced to continue working with the perpetrator; another tells of junior staff being urinated on as part of an initiation ritual; a gay officer reported having his possessions hidden and his locker vandalised; another involved a Muslim officer having bacon stuffed into his boots and yet another a Sikh officer having his beard cut for a ‘joke’.

Grim stories

Each case is part of a culture of bullying and persecution of women, gays and ethnic minority officers. They are not isolated incidents.

But the grim stories go beyond staff intimidation and include corrupt, careless, sexist and racist policing.

Evidence in cases of sexual violence was treated so carelessly as to make it unusable. Freezers containing evidence from victims of sex crimes (swabs, blood, urine and underwear) were overfilled and unable to close, so that countless rape kits with evidence were spoiled. In 2022 during the heatwave one freezer broke down completely, leading to cases of alleged rape being dropped.

At the same time when there was no money for new fridges, Casey reported firearm officers could get ‘any toys they wanted’. In line with austerity measures the Met’s budget has been cut, and priorities established. To allow budgets for firearms and Scotland Yard consultants to go unquestioned while refusing funding for specimen storage show where the Met’s priorities lay. 

It has been 25 years since the Macpherson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence was published, but still the force shows a ‘wilful blindness’ to racism at all levels. Between 2018-2020, the force strip searched 650 children, in 25% of cases there was no appropriate adult present, and over half of the children strip searched were black.

Casey describes the Met as a bullying boys’ club where criminals flourish and predators are free to pursue their prey, and where those who challenge the culture are neither believed nor supported, but rather ‘warned off’ from making complaints. David Carrick pleaded guilty to 85 serious sexual offences in February, he was ‘on someone’s radar’ no less than nine times, but nothing was done. As Carrick thought, a serving officer was practically untouchable.

As of February, following Carrick’s case, it was disclosed that 548 Met officers were being investigated for sexual misconduct or domestic abuse. Over 100 of them still continue to work as normal despite being under investigation while 236 are on ‘restricted duties’. How many more police sex offenders will be discovered, and how many more are guilty of lesser offences, remains unknown.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the report is that its evidence base was taken from the force itself, using exit interviews from staff as a major source of information. If senior officers had been so inclined they too could have unearthed the toxic culture, failures and criminality at the heart of the Met.

The change required to clean up the Met is enormous. The malignancy in the force is deep rooted and all pervasive. The only solution is for it to be disbanded.

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