OPINION - Appalling and abhorrent: can the Met ever recover from David Carrick?

David Carrick has pleaded guilty to 49 offences, including 24 counts of rape, against 12 women between 2003 and 2020 (Hertfordshire Police/PA) (PA Media)
David Carrick has pleaded guilty to 49 offences, including 24 counts of rape, against 12 women between 2003 and 2020 (Hertfordshire Police/PA) (PA Media)

Appalling, abhorrent, devastating and sickening are some of descriptions applied to the crimes of the serial rapist and Met officer David Carrick whose conviction for 49 offences including 24 rapes has made him one of the country’s worst ever sex offenders.

All are justified but the truth is that it’s hard to find words to express sufficiently either the horror of this vile man’s conduct or its disastrous impact upon the already dire reputation of the force where he worked for more than 20 years, using his status as a police officer to intimidate his victims.

There have been some dark days for the Met recently with the jailing of officer Wayne Couzens for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, the awful disclosures about racist and misogynistic conduct at Charing Cross Police station, and the posting on social media of photos taken by police of the bodies of murder victims Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman among the litany of cases that have already heaped shame on the force.

But this is rock bottom. Carrick should never been allowed to get away with his crimes for so long because, as the Met admits, there were enough warning signs with the multiple complaints over more than two decades about his behaviour towards women to have identified his predatory nature and brought him to justice long ago.

It’s arguable that he should not even have been allowed to join the Met, as he did in 2001, given that he had already been reported to police for malicious communications and burglary. He certainly could have been drummed out soon after once police had received further allegations in 2002 of harassment and assault and a reported “domestic incident” in 2004, raising additional questions about his suitability to be in position of power over the public.

His victims, of whom there may well turn out to be even more, have suffered terribly as a result of this and subsequent inaction and it’s not only Carrick who should feel shame at what’s happened, but also those within the Met who failed to respond rigorously enough to the evidence of his malignant conduct. Some should probably face disciplinary hearings of their own.

Other actions that the Met must take include strengthening vetting procedures and ensuring that the investigations currently taking place into officers who have previously been subject to domestic or sexual offence allegations are conducted vigorously to remove other dangerous predators still in uniform.

Attitudes need to be changed too to ensure that the widespread “pockets of misogyny” highlighted by the policing inspectorate within the Met and other forces are rooted out

The government must also step up by making it easier for forces to sack officers. It’s intolerable that Met Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, who has pledged to clean up the force, thinks there are police in his ranks who shouldn’t be there but can’t get rid of them under existing rules. Other reforms will be required in addition and reviving public confidence in the Met won’t be easy. It’s essential nonetheless. The days of shame for the Met must be brought to an end.