Rishi Sunak fails to say if his daughters could trust Met in wake of shocking report

<span>Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The prime minister has failed to say if he believed his daughters could trust the Metropolitan police after a shocking report lambasted the force for its institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia.

The publication of the report by Louise Casey, commissioned by the Met after one of its officers abducted, raped and murdered Sarah Everard in March 2021, has been called one of the “darkest days” in the force’s history.

Sunak has spoken previously of his fears for his daughters’ safety when out alone, adding that men take their own safety for granted.

In the wake of the publication of the Casey report, Sunak was asked on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday if his daughters could trust the Met and failed to back the force.

“Of course we need the answer to that question to be yes,” he said. “Clearly at the moment trust in the police has been hugely damaged by the things that we’ve discovered over the past year.”

Sunak said there needed to be a “change in culture and leadership” in policing.

“There needs to be a change in culture and leadership,” he told BBC Breakfast. “And I know that the new Metropolitan commissioner will no doubt reflect on the findings of Louise’s report, but is already making changes and that’s right, because what was happening before is simply shocking and unacceptable.”

Sir Mark Rowley, who was appointed as commissioner of Britain’s biggest police force in September last year, insisted the force was rooting out “toxic individuals”.

He described the findings in the report as “deeply worrying”, adding that you could not read the report and not be “upset, embarrassed and humbled”. But he maintained the force was tackling many of the issues raised by Casey.

“We’ve got toxic individuals, some of whom who’ve got concerns about their predatory behaviour. We’ve got people suspended. We’ve got people under investigation. We are rooting them out of this organisation,” Rowley said.

He said he accepted the force had “racists, misogynists and homophobes in the organisation”.

And while he conceded there were “systemic failings, management failings and cultural failings”, Rowley said he would not use the term “institutional” because he thought it was “a very ambiguous” term.

“Everyone uses different definitions,” he said, adding there were “toxic individuals” in the Met who were in the process of being removed. Rowley declined to give a number on how many there were and said an update on this work would be published by the end of March.

Rowley played down suggestions that a new name, following the example of the Royal Ulster Constabulary becoming the Police Service of Northern Ireland, could help address the lack of confidence in the Met.

“I think people just see it as a brand and I think there’s a danger with that,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He also pointed to concerns he would have with any significant restructuring or break-up of the force.

“We can create chaos and an appearance of business and energy by doing some big structural thing,” he said. “Actually, it will just get in the way of getting under the surface and digging deep, lifting stones and dealing with what’s there and changing the culture.”

The Met has lurched from scandal to scandal in recent years, including Everard’s murder by serving officer Wayne Couzens, and serving officer David Carrick being unmasked as one of the UK’s most prolific sex offenders.

The review painted an alarming picture of how crimes against women and children are investigated. Officers rely on “overstuffed, dilapidated or broken fridges and freezers” instead of fast-track forensic services, the report also said.

A lunchbox was found in the same fridge as rape samples, the appliances are so full they have to be strapped shut and last summer one fridge containing rape kits broke down – meaning the kits could not be used as evidence, it said.