After the devastating Casey Report on the Met prompted by the Sarah Everard abduction and murder, found it “institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic”, it is only natural for us to ask whether the Metropolitan Police “fit for purpose” particularly in a borough like the City of Westminster?
Unfortunately these issues have been long standing as its over two decade since the MacPerson report called the Met institutionally racists and books like the Broken Yard by Tom Harper on the fall of the Metropolitan Police highlight well the dysfunction and corruption at the Met from cases of the murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan to Partygate more recently.
One thing is for sure, the Parliamentary & Diplomatic Protection Unit needs moving away from the Met’s orbit after it harboured both Wayne Cozens and Daniel Carrick. Most of the activities of the unit would be based in the borough with the Palace of Westminster and most of the embassies of the world based in the borough, so posing a threat to many women and girls in our City.
We also hear that the canteen culture from the 1970s and 1980s has not changed much at all at Police Stations like Charing Cross with a front desk, one of the few stations left in the City under the previous Mayor of London, Boris Johnson who closed many of them. Knowing such a work culture certainly exists does not reassure residents to visit their front desk at all.
And then of course there minority community issues with Baroness Casey clearly stating that black communities are “over policed and under protected”. Stop and search operations and their disproportionate impact on the black community with the case Bianca Williams & her boyfriend drawing a lot of attention in W9. The indifference to the killing of Yasmin Chkaifi was also telling. She was a victim of violence on the streets of Maida Vale after the MPS had failed to arrest her assailant – even when a stalking protection order had been breached and she notified the police that she feared for her life.
As a member of Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) during the John Charles de Menezes shooting, l saw first hand internal battles with the Met and the last Commissioner of the Police clearly did not help matters. So starting from the top, a full investigation of her handling of these issues is warranted as well.
We are also famously reminded by a previous Police Commissioner, Mark Roberts (1972-77) remarking that a “good police force is one that catches more crooks than it employs” when he launched his anti-corruption drive, sacking and forcing out over 450 officers. We can only wonder how many can we expect this time round.
The clarity of the report’s findings is such that it can not be ignored by the Met and gives Londoners an opportunity to review its activities and maybe gain the trust of the police again or else it will need to be broken up to better serve Londoners policing priorities.
This blog piece was published in Westminster Extra weekly edition of the 24th of March 2023