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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Is the Met Police leadership fit for purpose?

The question that every MP should be asking the Home Secretary today is why, in the light of an independent report that has branded the Metropolitan police as “institutionally corrupt” and which personally censored its commissioner, Cressida Dick for obstruction, is she still in post?

The Guardian reports that the findings of an independent panel inquiring into Daniel Morgan’s killing in 1987 triggered calls from his brother, Alastair, for Dick to consider her position, and denounced the actions of Britain’s biggest police force.

Of course Dick is no stranger to controversy. She was the gold commander in the control room during the operation which led to the death of John Charles de Menezes, who was wrongly identified as a potential suicide bomber. According to this report when she was named the successor to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe in February the family of de Menezes released a statement condemning the move.

But it is senior management of the Met that must now come under renewed scrutiny, whether it is fit for purpose, if it should be replaced with people who are not imbued with the obstructionist and 'institutionally corrupt' culture identified by the report. or even if a more root and branch reform is needed. The Home Secretary should not shy away from doing what is necessary.

After all the problems with the Met and its managemen has been ongoing for some time. Here are some examples:

Back in 2010, the Guardian pointed to a disturbing lack of action on the part of the Metropolitan police after they failed to pursue evidence in previously undisclosed telephone records which showed a vast number of public figures had had their voicemail accessed by the News of the World:

In a further blow to the official version of events, the Guardian has discovered that although police and prosecutors named only eight victims in court, material seized by police from Mulcaire and the paper's royal reporter, Clive Goodman, contained 4,332 names or partial names of people in whom the two men had an interest, 2,978 numbers or partial numbers for mobile phones and 30 audio tapes which appear to contain an unspecified number of recordings of voicemail messages.

The revelations increase the prospect of the government ordering a new inquiry into the affair. While Scotland Yard's public position remains that it did all that its resources and the law permitted, some police sources admit privately that they failed to fully investigate the case, that decisions may have been distorted by a fear of upsetting Rupert Murdoch's newspapers, and that it was "unfortunate" that the officer in charge of the inquiry, assistant commissioner Andy Hayman, subsequently left the police to work for News International as a columnist.

And then of course, there was the policing of the vigil at Clapham Common in March of this year, which I commented on here and here. The Metropolitan Police, one of whose number has since pleaded guilty to the kidnap and rape of Sarah Everard and accepted responsibility for her killing, refused to work with organisers, and when a spontaneous vigil emerged on Clapham Common, chose to go in boots first to break it up.

The scenes circulated on social media of the way that situation was policed are totally shocking. There was no sensitivity to people's fears and concerns, no acknowledgement of the police's own failure to keep communities safe and no attempt to work with mourners to allow them to express their views while keeping others from harm.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) review found the media coverage of the event to be a "public relations disaster" for police and added that "there was insufficient communication between police commanders about changing events on the ground". This was compounded by the Police Commissioner, who does not seem to understood the nature of 'policing by consent.

All of these issues and more must call into question the culture and management of the Metropolitan Police, so why is the government not doing anything about it?
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