a year ago

London police institutionally racist and sexist, major review finds

A Metropolitan Police officer stands on duty in Westminster, London, Britain, Oct 1, 2021. REUTERS
A Metropolitan Police officer stands on duty in Westminster, London, Britain, Oct 1, 2021. REUTERS

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London's Metropolitan Police is institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic and unable to police itself, an independent review said on Tuesday, mounting pressure on the Met's new chief to reform Britain's biggest police force.

The review was commissioned by the then-head of the Met, Cressida Dick, in 2021 after a serving officer was sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of Sarah Everard in a case that shocked the country and - along with subsequent instances of crimes against women - turned a focus onto the force's broader work culture.

"There is institutional racism, sexism and homophobia, inside the organisation in terms of how officers and staff are treated, and outside the organisation in terms of how communities are policed," the report said, adding that the force was "failing women and children".

The independent review, which was led by Louise Casey, who sits in Britain's upper house of parliament, found "severe" failings across the Met that it said will need "radical reform."

It comes over two decades after a 1999 inquiry into the murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence identified institutional racism within the force over its response to the killing.

Finding that policing by consent was broken in the capital, the review said the biggest barrier to fixing the force was the Met's culture of defensiveness and denial about the scale of its problems.

"Whichever way you look at it, whichever label or description, the evidence is absolutely clear that as an institution, are they prejudiced and discriminatory? Yes, they are," Casey told reporters ahead of the report's release.

Met Commissioner Mark Rowley, Britain's most senior police officer, told reporters: "We've let Londoners down and we've let our own frontline down and this report paints that vividly ... I'm deeply sorry."

"It (the report) generates a whole series of emotions: anger, frustration, embarrassment... But most of all, it generates resolve," he added. He said the force's professional standards department had been "stepped up," and that with their help "we are sacking officers at a faster rate."

Still, he said the job was not done yet.

"I can't say I have reduced the risk of a bad officer to zero yet, but every day we're rooting people out and we're making progress," he said, when asked if there were still officers accused of crimes such as murder, rape and domestic abuse serving in the force.

The 360-page report said the force needed strong leadership, a women's protection service, and a new children's strategy, among other recommendations for reform.

Casey's interim report said last October that it found the force took 400 days on average to resolve misconduct allegations against its officers.

"I just think it (Everard's case) is so dreadful and has to be a moment that change came - (but) change didn't come. So now this report has to carry that and has to take responsibility for getting the change needed," Casey said, reports Reuters. 

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