LONDON: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and bereaved families on Tuesday led calls for “top to bottom” reform of London’s Metropolitan Police, after a review found the UK´s largest crime-fighting force to be institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic.
The report, written by government official Louise Casey, was commissioned after the kidnap, rape and murder two years ago of a London woman, Sarah Everard, by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens.
Since then another officer, David Carrick, has also been jailed for life for dozens of rapes and sexual assaults stretching back two decades, and several other Met scandals have emerged. Casey found those shocking crimes were perpetrated in a pervasive culture of “deep-seated homophobia” and predatory behaviour, in which female officers and staff “routinely face sexism and misogyny”.
She also warned the force could still be employing rapists and murderers. Officers from minorities suffer widespread bullying, while violence against women and girls has not been treated seriously enough by the majority white and male force, she said.
A Muslim officer reported finding bacon left in boots inside a locker, a Sikh said his beard was cut because a colleague “thought it was funny”, and sex toys were placed in coffee mugs as pranks. “I make a finding of institutional racism, sexism and homophobia in the Met,” Casey stated in the foreword to her damning 363-page report, adding that the force “has to change itself”.
Casey’s conclusions come nearly 25 years after the Macpherson Report -- which probed Met failures after the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993 -- also found the force institutionally racist and recommended dozens of reforms.
Yet she discovered that internal discrimination is “tolerated”, with complaints “likely to be turned against Black, Asian and ethnic minority officers”. Lawrence´s mother Doreen said the report showed the force was “rotten to the core”.
“It is not, and has never been, a case of a few ´bad apples´,” she said. “It is rotten to the core. Discrimination is institutionalised within the Metropolitan Police and it needs changing from top to bottom.”
Prime Minister Sunak said what had been happening inside the Met was “simply shocking and unacceptable” and that “there needs to be a change in culture and leadership”. But he backed the Met´s chief Mark Rowley, who was appointed after Cressida Dick was forced out last April, to “restore confidence and trust” through a draft overhaul unveiled in January.
Rowley called Casey´s report “a very upsetting read”. “We have a real problem here. We have misogyny, homophobia and racism in the organisation and we´re going to root it out,” he told Sky News.
The review, which identified “systemic and fundamental problems” within the Met including “inadequate management”, made 16 recommendations that would constitute a “complete overhaul”.