Tuesday briefing: Breaking down the damning new 300-page report into the Met Police’s failures
The crisis faced by the Metropolitan police has only become more acute after publication of a damning report by Lady Louise Casey, released today, that finds the force has institutional problems with racism, misogyny and homophobia. The review was commissioned after the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard in 2021 by serving firearms officer Wayne Couzens. The 300-page report leaves no stone unturned, addressing the culture of bullying and harassment, and senior leadership’s inability to adequately address the mounting number of scandals. It has also said that the Met should accept the finding of an inquiry from 2021 that deemed the force “institutionally corrupt”.
It is a landmark moment for a police force that is now purportedly on its “last chance”. If things do not change, it could face the prospect of being broken up. Highlighting new case studies, the Casey report says that while serial rapist PC David Carrick and Couzens are responsible for their actions, the force failed to recognise the danger they posed despite significant evidence indicating that they should not be serving officers.
Today’s newsletter sets out key findings of the report. That’s right after the headlines.
Five big stories
Climate crisis | The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has delivered its “final warning” on the climate emergency. The report took eight years, hundreds of scientists, runs thousands of pages long and has one clear message: act now or face irrevocable damage to the planet. There is still hope though, as the authors of the report stress that it is still possible to avoid the worst ravages of climate breakdown.
Brexit | According to party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP will be voting against the government in this week’s first parliamentary vote on the new Windsor framework for Northern Ireland. Donaldson said: “There remain key areas of concern which require further clarification, reworking and change as well as seeing further legal text.”
Strikes | Members of the RMT have voted to accept a 9% pay increase over two years, in a referendum that closed yesterday. The turnout of the vote was nearly 90%, with 74% voting for the offer, thereby ending their dispute with Network Rail.
Labour | Keir Starmer has been criticised for pledging to put in place a “zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism and racism” without having transparent systems in place to tackle them. Martin Forde KC, the senior lawyer who carried out an inquiry into the party’s culture, said “you can’t implement zero tolerance unless you’re policing things fairly rigorously”.
Banking | As the banking crisis continued to spread, shares in the regional First Republic bank based in San Francisco crashed more than 46% yesterday after reports that it may need to raise even more funds despite a $30bn bailout last week.
In depth: Bad recruitment, poor vetting, a toxic culture – what’s in the Casey report
The problem: Since he took over as commissioner in September, Mark Rowley has been trying to clean up the reputation of the Met, to little avail. The legacy left by his predecessor, Cressida Dick, was a force in special measures that, at the very least, needed to experience a fundamental overhaul. Dick was accused of burying her head in the sand about the issues her force was facing. Public confidence during her time in office plummeted to 49% and hasn’t gotten much better in recent months. The outgoing chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council has said that it could take years to rebuild lost trust.
The findings: The Met’s management style was described as “incoherent” and “unstrategic” in the report, with leaders opting for short-lived initiatives instead of planning ahead to put in place more fundamental policies that would hold up in the long term. There are huge gaps between those at the top and operational policing that has created a disconnect, that in turn disconnects leadership “from Londoners and their experience of policing in London”. The section concludes that the opacity of the structure has allowed a poor culture to thrive.
The problem: Between 2010 and 2019 the government cut spending across the criminal justice system, and by the end of the decade the number of police officers dipped to a three-decade low across the country. In London, police spending per head had fallen faster than any other force. The government pledged to fill this shortfall but have had a hard time recruiting people. Last year the Metropolitan police said that it was receiving less than half the applications it needed.
To remedy this issue the Met took a rapid fire approach to hiring. For instance, face-to-face interviews have been abandoned (the Met has said that they plan to reintroduce in-person interviews towards the end of the year), taking away a crucial part of the application process that would help the force gauge whether a potential hire is suitable or not. The speed of the process to hit the targets set by the government has set alarm bells ringing as many people question the quality of recruits coming through.
The findings: The total number of officers in the Met grew from 31,954 in April 2012 to 34,372 in November 2022, with some improvement in the gender and diversity of hires (though it still falls short of representing the proportions in the city it polices). The report also noted that senior staff and officers were more preoccupied with hitting recruitment numbers quickly, for financial reasons, than they were to improve the pressures facing the force or broaden the skills base.
The problem: The issue around vetting in the Met is twofold. The initial recruitment vetting process is for those who are trying to enter the force, to assess and uncover the potential risks they could pose to the public. The inspector of constabulary, Matt Parr, has said one in 10 officers should never have made it through vetting, after his team assessed a random sample of officers – meaning that there are potentially hundreds of officers who have joined the force who should not have.
Critics have said that the process is also too passive, relying heavily on disclosure as opposed to proactive deep dives into people’s backgrounds. Then there is the issue of existing officers: while all officers should be revetted once a decade, many forces do not follow this guideline. Rowley has admitted to the BBC that vetting procedures are not efficient enough.
The findings: Very serious concerns were raised about vetting procedures in the Met, as it does not guard against “those who seek power in order to abuse it”. The procedures are not good at recognising inappropriate behaviour or even crimes like domestic violence or flashing which can act as crucial warning signs that even more serious offences could follow. Those who are transferring in are deemed good enough and therefore do not require further checking, and revetting has been more or less done carelessly.
Complaints against serving officers are not well documented and they usually do not go anywhere, meaning that patterns of behaviour are not picked up on. Behaviour that in most other organisations would lead to an immediate sacking or serious disciplinary action is too often dealt with via procedures like “reflective practice”. The lack of accountability has meant that “predatory and unacceptable behaviour has been allowed to flourish”.
The problem: The Met’s problems have long been thought to be more endemic and existential than the force was willing to admit. The excuse of a few bad apples however moved from flimsy to ridiculous as more and more reports uncover a toxic culture of misogyny, racism and homophobia, bolstered by a “wall of silence”, and an intolerance to whistleblowing. The problem has festered into a crisis as Mark Rowley announced earlier this year that two to three police officers will face trial every week until 2025 for crimes such as violence against women and dishonesty.
The findings: When it comes to the culture in the Met, the report is clear: “[the] systems supports wrongdoers”. A culture of bullying has meant that those who try to shed light on poor practices and behaviour often experience negative consequences for themselves and their careers. Racist, misogynist, homophobic and other discriminatory acts are “tolerated, ignored, or dismissed as ‘banter’.” A deep seated culture of defensiveness and denial has meant that the same issues have persisted for decades. As Vikram Dodd writes in his analysis of the report ,“here we all go again”.
The conclusions of this report are disastrous for the Met as a force. But, it has been here before and the same question is yet to be answered: can anything change? And how long must Londoners wait for that change to happen?
What else we’ve been reading
As world leaders call for the arrest of Vladimir Putin over his illegal invasion of Ukraine, George Monbiot asks how many of those people were complicit or directly involved with the illegal invasion of Iraq 20 years ago. “It goes beyond hypocrisy,” Monbiot writes. “It’s an assault on memory.” Nimo
“A billion listens, is that a lot?”: a lovely interview with John Cooper Clarke on the surprise, Arctic Monkeys-fuelled resurgence of his poem I Wanna Be Yours. Hannah Davies, deputy editor, newsletters
Have you ever wondered how true to life Succession is? Well, Michael Hogan spoke to five high flying corporate insiders about how accurate the drama series is as its fourth and final season approaches. Nimo
More £1 meals from Becky Excell – the slow-cooker goulash sounds particularly tasty (and low maintenance). Hannah
There are endless amounts of myths and tricks about how to maintain good gut health. After speaking to nutrition experts, Elle Hunt sets out eight things that we should all know about what’s going on in our bodies. (Spoiler alert... it turns out you don’t need to poo every day!) Nimo
Football | Wigan Athletic have been docked three points for failing to pay their players this month. The Championship side – who committed the same infraction last June, July and October – are now bottom of the table and, eight points from safety, may be doomed to relegation.
Tennis | After thrashing Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-2 at Indian Wells, Carlos Alcaraz is the men’s number one once again. Just 19, the Spanish prodigy was the first ever teenager to be top of the ATP rankings, before injuries forced him to miss the Australian Open.
Formula One | The FIA is set to reviews its rulebook after Fernando Alonso’s controversial third place finish in this weekend’s Saudi grand prix. After confusion a time penalty, which dropped the Spaniard to fourth, was finally awarded to the Spaniard so late that he had already finished and celebrated on the podium.
The front pages
The Guardian’s lead story today is “Racist, misogynist, homophobic – the damning verdict on Met police”. The Metro reverses it: “Damning verdict on the Met – misogynists, homophobes and racists”. “Condemned! Public’s loss of faith in police” – that’s the Daily Express while the Daily Mail says the Yard is “Broken and rotten”. The Times has “Rotten Met ‘has lost public faith’” and the Daily Telegraph says “Met Police is ‘racist, sexist and broken’”. In other news the Financial Times splashes with “Shotgun marriage of Credit Suisse and UBS stirs bondholders’ anger”. “Britain’s gone to pot” as in hole, says the Sun, adding “Half of UK roads crumbling”. The i reports “The trial of Boris Johnson begins – as ex-PM plots his comeback” and the Daily Mirror has “Last chance buffoon” after the ex-PM laid out his Partygate defence.
Today in Focus
Is it time to delete TikTok?
Western governments are telling their staff to remove the popular social media app from their work phones amid security fears. Alex Hern reports on why time could be running out for TikTok’s current ownership model
Cartoon of the day | Martin Rowson
A bit of good news to remind you that the world’s not all bad
A 400-year-old wall painting of “national significance” has been unearthed in a flat in York. During work on Luke Budworth’s kitchen, parts of friezes dating from 1660 were discovered, based on scenes from poet Francis Quarles’ 1635 book Emblems. Budworth, a medical researcher, said that he initially thought that the artworks were Victorian wallpaper.
While there is no funding at present to preserve them, Budworth has received help from Historic England to cover them up to help prevent further damage. “Hopefully we can get the word out and see if any societies or PhD students want to do some experimental conservation project,” he said. “I also hope that this inspires other people on Micklegate to start looking at their own walls suspiciously.”
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Bored at work?
And finally, the Guardian’s puzzles are here to keep you entertained throughout the day – with plenty more on the Guardian’s Puzzles app for iOS and Android. Until tomorrow.