OPINION - More than 100 accused Met Police officers are still on duty

 (Ben Turner)
(Ben Turner)

The principle that policing in this country is done by consent is a sometimes confusing concept. Consent in this case does not mean that of the individual – neither you nor I could withdraw ours from the police or the law itself.

Rather, it refers to how the power of the police emanates from the common consent of the public, as opposed to the power of the state. It harks back to what are sometimes referred to as the Peelian principles, named after Sir Robert Peel, twice prime minister but just as often remembered for what he did as home secretary, where he founded the Metropolitan Police in 1829.

Fast forward nearly 200 years and the Met appears to be in near-constant crisis, to the extent that we seem to report almost as much on problems within the force than the crime it is charged with preventing and solving.

The Standard’s political reporter, Rachael Burford, has a remarkable exclusive in today’s paper. Via a Freedom of Information request, she found that there are more than 100 Met officers under investigation for suspected crimes – including domestic abuse – who are continuing to work as normal. Furthermore, almost half of officers who have a case to answer for gross misconduct have not been put on restricted duties.

All this has come to light at the same time as a truly damning report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, the police watchdog, found that hundreds of officers in England and Wales who should have failed vetting checks may be serving.

The report also warned that misogynistic conduct was “prevalent”, with some officers engaging in “booty patrols” in which women were stopped because of their looks and others targeted vulnerable women they were meant to be helping.

You may recall it was only earlier this year that a report into behaviour at Charing Cross Police Station, this time by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, said that Scotland Yard must overhaul its culture of sexism, racism, bullying and homophobia.

It also revealed racist texts were sent about Muslim “fanatics”, “Somalian rats”, and others which made reference to Auschwitz. The IOPC said at the time it believed “these incidents are not isolated or simply the behaviour of a few bad apples”.

It should be noted that while all this has been unfolding, police-recorded sexual offences have risen 21 per cent compared with pre-Covid figures. In London, the number of rapes being reported to police has risen to a new high equivalent to more than 25 offences a day.

New Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said last month that sting operations and other “ruthless” tactics would be employed to sack hundreds of rogue officers. This followed yet another highly critical report which found that racists, misogynists and sex offenders have been allowed to stay in the force. Sir Mark has promised action to restore integrity. There is a long, long way to go on that front.

Elsewhere in the paper, Rishi Sunak has changed his mind and will now travel to Egypt to attend the COP27 summit, having initially declined the invitation in order to focus on domestic challenges. In that vein, No 10 said today that all of Sunak’s leadership campaign pledges made over the summer were now under review.

In the comment pages, Defence Editor Robert Fox warns we mustn’t be fooled if Vladimir Putin tries to pause his war – he needs time to refurbish his knackered army.

Homes & Property Editor Prudence Ivey says buyers, renters and council tenants would all benefit from a revitalised state-led home-building programme. While Chief Theatre Critic Nick Curtis fears Matt Hancock in the jungle may cause the UK to combust with embarrassment.

And finally, from dazzling displays to sparkling rooftop parties, Reveller Editor David Ellis has the scoop on how to have a dynamite Guy Fawkes night.

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