Elite VIP protection unit should be disbanded over toxic culture, Met to be told

Wayne Couzens
Wayne Couzens

One of Scotland Yard’s most elite armed units, charged with protecting politicians and diplomats, should be disbanded, a damning report into Met culture will recommend.

Wayne Couzens - the killer of Sarah Everard - and David Carrick, the serial rapist, were colleagues in the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection (PaDP) command.

Dame Louise Casey, who will publish her review into Met standards on Tuesday, will recommend the unit be broken up in order to tackle the deep seated toxic and misogynistic culture that has been allowed to take hold and fester.

PaDP officers provide round the security for politicians, diplomats and other VIPs and guard government buildings and embassies.

But the Casey review - which was commissioned in the wake of Everard’s abduction, rape and murder - will recommend it be “effectively disbanded” with all serving officers forced to undergo re-vetting.

Lack of female officers

The report will be scathing about the lack of proper supervision within PaDP and will criticise the woeful lack of female officers recruited across armed policing.

Dame Louise is expected to highlight significant barriers, both structural and cultural, that are put in the way of female officers wanting to join some of the force’s elite units.

The review will recommend that all firearms officers should undergo retrospective vetting in order to root out anyone who should not be serving.

The recommendation is one of more than a dozen contained in the 300-page report that will make extremely uncomfortable reading for Sir Mark Rowley and other senior leaders in the country’s biggest police force.

The review will contain numerous examples of appalling racism, misogyny and homophobia within the Met as well as highlighting repeated failures to tackle misconduct and even illegality, by rogue officers.

It will also attack the Met’s past defensiveness, with the former commissioner Dame Cressida Dick coming in for criticism.

David Carrick
David Carrick

Dame Louise is expected to be damning over the force’s tendency to treat problems in isolation and the failure to recognise widespread cultural issues.

One source familiar with the report’s findings said: “For too long the Met has shown an inability to spot patterns of behaviour and has treated serious issues as one offs.

“We saw that with Couzens and Carrick and yet nobody seemed to step back and ask the question, ‘why are so many offenders coming from the same unit? Do we have a problem with this unit?”

Concerns around  the culture in PaDP are not new, but a previous attempt to reform the unit several years ago was scrapped when long-standing officers put up fierce resistance to suggested changes.

After Couzens murdered Everard it emerged that his nickname among colleagues had been "The Rapist", while Carrick was known at work as "Bastard Dave".

Last year it also emerged that a number of serving PaDP officers had been members of a WhatsApp group that had shared racist messages.

Report will be highly critical of Met

Scotland Yard recently announced its own review of the unit which had been due to report in the coming weeks.

But Dame Louise is expected to warn that anything short of a complete overhaul will fail to tackle the fundamental problems that exist.

While the report will be highly critical of the Met and will point to problems in every department that was visited and inspected, Dame Louise is said to be supportive of Sir Mark and the current leadership team and their efforts to drive through reform.

Speaking ahead of the publication, Sir Mark said he recognised the need for widespread reform and was passionate about achieving it.

He said: “We have to show people we have got a grip of it and I am not afraid of doing that. I have probably been more forthright about the need for reform than any commissioner has been for a long time.”

A Home Office source also said Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, remained confident that Sir Mark was the right man to turn around the force.

It came as it separately emerged that Sir Steve House, the former acting Met commissioner, was being investigated by the police watchdog over allegations he described the bulk of rape complaints as being the result of “regretful sex”.

The comments were allegedly made during a meeting in January 2022 between senior officers and academics discussing a major review that was taking place into rape prosecutions.

Sir Steve, who was number two in the Met when the alleged comments were made in January 2022, has emphatically denied making them saying he found the term “regretful sex” completely “abhorrent”.

Confirming that an investigation had been launched, Mel Palmer from the IOPC said: “The allegation that these comments were made by a very senior police officer is of significant public concern, which may impact on public confidence in policing and so it is important that they are subject to an independent investigation.”