The case of a Metropolitan Police officer who avoided dismissal despite 11 separate criminal allegations is just one of the findings highlighted in a report detailing serious failings in the force.
The unnamed officer faced numerous allegations of harassment, assault and fraud, and remained on the force after being arrested for a “sex offence”.
Here are some of the key findings from Baroness Louise Casey’s interim review:
Ethnic minorities accept complaints against them
Data collected by Baroness Casey’s team found that officers from ethnic minorities were more likely than their white counterparts to have complaints against them upheld.
- Black police were 81% more
- Asian officers were 55% more likely
- And mixed-race officers were 41% more likely
The report highlighted that officers from ethnic minorities were generally unlikely to receive more allegations of misconduct, and warned that this trend suggested “clear evidence of systemic bias”.
The researchers found that inequality has been falling steadily since 2018-19, but suggested that this trend could be partially attributed to a large number of unresolved complaints.
Complaints of sexual misconduct are rarely upheld
Among the report’s most troubling revelations is that allegations of sexual misconduct against officers are far less likely to be upheld than other complaints.
According to the study, only 29% of reports result in a “case to answer,” after which the officer would have to hold a formal hearing on the complaint.
The researchers said a perceived reluctance to take action against sex offenders has led to a belief within the force that “discriminatory behavior is not a breach of professional standards” and has created an “anything goes” culture among some staff.
One officer reported that a colleague told him that “if you fell asleep on the night shift, you couldn’t say that unwanted sexual touches were not allowed.”
Another said they heard other officers “passing sexualised comments” when dealing with members of the public, staff and victims of crime.
Repeaters fly under the radar
According to the report, repeat offenders have been able to escape disciplinary action because of the force’s whistleblowing process.
- About 1,809 agents – or 20% of all those with complaints – filed more than one complaint.
- More than 500 officials and employees have had three to five different cases of misconduct since 2013
- But Baroness Casey’s team said less than 1% of those facing multiple allegations were forcibly turned away.
In one case, an official continued to serve in the face of management action on charges of corruption, traffic offenses and “failure to protect outside work”.
The report found that the Met’s reporting process – which limits senior officers to dealing with complaints on a case-by-case basis – prevented investigators from “repeating or escalating misconduct”.
A senior officer observed that an offender had stopped collecting separate allegations of racist and misogynistic behaviour. He stated that each allegation presented separately “will not be enough, but if they were taken together, it would be”.
Investigations are too long
The report also states that when reports are made to the police, internal investigations can take more than a year to complete.
- On average, Met investigations take 400 days to complete
- Almost 20% of cases take more than two years to resolve
- In some extreme cases – about 2% of those reported – consultations can last more than four years
One officer told Baroness Casey the force takes “forever” to deal with complaints and warned they often “keep people hanging and hanging”.
The report found that the impact of the delays is having a detrimental effect on both the public and the police, with line managers complaining of “serious degradation of team capacity” as investigations are stretched and officers are sidelined.
Whistleblowers ‘absolutely pointless’
Overall, researchers reported an overwhelming sense of helplessness among officers, with most believing that no action would be taken when concerns about behavior were raised.
Between 55% and 60% of complaints made by Met managers and staff against colleagues resulted in a “no case to answer” decision – well above the national average of 46%.
The report found that where officers are found to have engaged in “serious misconduct”, dismissals have fallen steadily since 2016. Some senior officials said employees could not be fired for misconduct unless they were convicted of a criminal offense. .
- One chief inspector complained that officers were “not speaking up” for supervisors to report complaints, while another described the complaints process as “a dreary and completely pointless exercise”.
- Other senior officers complained that the firing threshold was too high, with one saying: “If we were working for Tesco, we could fire someone for less.”
- While another warned, the force was saying they were “losing good staff, ‘how am I sitting next to a guy who bullied me or exposed himself?’
Public ‘Deserves Better Met’
The Met commissioner admitted the report showed the force had let “both the public and our honest and dedicated officers down”.
While admitting there will be “further challenges ahead”, Sir Mark Rowley pledged to implement a number of immediate reforms, including:
- Ensuring that a new anti-corruption and abuse command is adequately equipped and supported to tackle misconduct
- Reassess existing data to identify and root out “at risk” officers
- Establishing new standards of conduct and defining a “clear direction for declaring standards”.
He also pledged to work with the Home Secretary on regulatory reform, which he said could include new powers to allow the force to have the final say on officer dismissals.
The commissioner said he was “shocked” by the report, and admitted that the force had been “harmed by corrupt practices that have been left in limbo and allowed to fester”.