Baroness Louise Casey’s 363-page report about the culture of the Metropolitan Police Service has had extensive media coverage since this morning, much of it focussed on copious chilling evidence of a “boys’ club” mentality fostering contempt for women – including female Met officers – and commonplace racist and homophobic attitudes. Casey herself describes this in the video below.
These behaviours fall far short of the high ethical standards Londoners are entitled to expect from their police and to one officer who spoke to Casey’s team demonstrate “your basics about why you are a police officer” going missing – simple qualities like treating people with “respect, humanity, integrity”.
Specific chapters in the report address these problems, which also thread through others about specific issues. One is called The Met’s resources and its response to austerity, which describes spending levels as “18% lower in real terms than they were ten years ago”.
The number of warranted officers has risen to over 34,000 but the overall Met workforce has fallen, contributing to “additional pressures on officers on the frontline, reduced efficiency in dealing with crime and a loss of public trust and confidence”.
A chapter called The missing voice of Londoners says the quality of engagement between the service and those it serves has become “one-way, lacking candour, transparency and openness”. One problem, Casey finds, has been the reduction in visible neighbourhood policing teams and a restructuring since 2019 to create the current 12 Basic Command Units covering the whole city.
She describes neighbourhood teams as “seriously depleted” and personnel being regularly redeployed. The report also notes that there are numerous community engagement structures – Independent Advisory Groups, Safer Neighbourhood Boards and others – but these are are “not building public trust and confidence”.
A chapter on How the Met deals with misconduct and grievances underlines the interim report’s finding that “the Met’s internal misconduct process takes too long, is worse with regard to sexual misconduct, fails to spot patterns of poor behaviour, results in allegations being more likely to be dismissed than acted on, places a heavy burden on those raising concerns and has racial disparity across the system”.
It takes an average of 400 days for the Met to finalise misconduct cases and up to 60 per cent of allegations lead to a “no case to answer” conclusion – 11 per cent higher than the England and Wales average. The report concludes: “How the Met tackles misconduct is key to its integrity…The Met should not underestimate the extent and depth of the challenge”.
The complex accountability set-up applying to the Met also receives some attention from Casey under the chapter heading Governance, scrutiny and accountability. “The system in not working as well as it should,” says the report “A dysfunctional relationship has developed between the Met and MOPAC [the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime], with defensive behaviours on one side and tactical rather than strategic approaches on the other.”
Casey’s team heard the Met described as “defensive or evasive” and as frequently invoking “the concept of operational independence, at times to deter further scrutiny”. and MOPAC as lacking “a systematic approach to supporting and challenging the delivery of agreed aims, objectives or outcomes”. The report observes: “Historically, the Met have made it very hard for MOPAC to scrutinise them. This has sometimes resulted in less strategic and more tactical approaches to governance.”
The Casey report can be read in full HERE.
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