The content originally appeared on: CNN
London’s Metropolitan Police Service has allowed predatory behavior to flourish within its force and failed to adequately protect members of the public from abuse, as well as its own female staff, according to a review that accused the organization of perpetuating a misogynistic, sexist, racist and homophobic internal culture.
“The Met has not protected its female employees or members of the public from police perpetrators of domestic abuse, nor those who abuse their position for sexual purposes,” read the 363-page report by Baroness Louise Casey, published on Tuesday.
“Despite the Met saying violence against women and girls is a priority, it has been treated differently from ‘serious violence.’ In practice this has meant it has not been taken as seriously in terms of resourcing and prioritisation.”
Police Commissioner Mark Rowley said in video statement on Tuesday that the force “fully accepts” the review’s findings and intends to act on them.
“I’m sorry we’ve let you all down, and we will fix this,” he vowed, citing a “turnaround” plan to address systemic issues within the force.
The United Kingdom’s largest police force came under intense scrutiny after Wayne Couzens, a serving Metropolitan Police officer, was convicted of the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old London woman in March 2021. The killing sparked a national conversation about the stark issues with policing.
One day after Couzens was sentenced that year, another serving officer, David Carrick, was arrested, accused of rape. He had joined the ranks of Britain’s worst serial sex offenders – later pleading guilty to raping multiple women over a period of almost two decades, again reigniting calls for urgent reform.
Grappling with the series of scandals and a growing crisis of trust, the Metropolitan Police then appointed Casey, a member of Britain’s House of Lords who has worked for years on social welfare, to lead an independent inquiry into its institutional culture and standards of behavior.
Her review began in February 2022. It paints a damning picture both of how seriously violence against women and girls is taken, and how crimes against them are investigated. “Instead of access to fast-track forensic services, officers have to contend with over-stuffed, dilapidated or broken fridges and freezers containing evidence including the rape kits of victims, and endure long waits for test results,” the review said.
Casey called the report “rigorous, stark and unsparing” in the foreword. When asked by Britain’s PA news agencywhether there could be more officers like Couzens and Carrick in the force, she said: “I cannot sufficiently assure you that that is not the case.”
She called on the Metropolitan Police to reform itself, and said that far too many Londoners had lost faith in the force to protect them.
“It is not our job as the public to keep ourselves safe from the police. It is the police’s job to keep us safe as the public,” Casey said in the foreword, pointing out that Carrick was not caught after action taken by the Metropolitan Police, but only after one of his victims came forward and reported him to the Hertfordshire Police – spurred to speak out by a statement made by Everard’s mother.
A CNN investigation published in March revealed how police failures may have prevented Carrick, who served in one of Britain’s most elite armed police units for years, from being stopped sooner. After Carrick pleaded guilty to a total of 71 sexual offences, the Metropolitan Police admitted there were nine “missed opportunities” when he had previously come to its and other forces’ attention, although he was never charged with a criminal offense.
Those nine “opportunities” spanned decades. Between 2000 and 2021, Carrick was accused of multiple crimes including burglary, harassment, assault and rape. CNN spoke to more than a dozen police officers from multiple forces in England and examined the force’s own guidelines on handling misconduct, to identify how Carrick’s abuse could have been prevented.
An investigation into the nine incidents has found at least two occasions, in 2019 and 2021, when the Metropolitan Police did not follow those guidelines, leaving Carrick’s violent and degrading treatment of women to go unchecked, and him free to meet further victims. CNN reached out to the Metropolitan Police for the investigation and were referred to their existing statements on Carrick. They said they would not be commenting further while there are government reviews ongoing into the handling of the case.
In January, after Carrick admitted to the abuses, sending shockwaves through the country, Rowley, the police commissioner, vowed to root out the forces’ problems. “We are going to turn all those stones over, we’re going to come to the right conclusions and we’ll be ruthless about rooting out those who corrupt our integrity. You have my absolute assurance on that,” he said in an interview with UK media.
Reviewing the Metropolitan Police’s internal misconduct system was among the chief priorities for Baroness Casey. Last October, she wrote to Rowley with some of her initial views on the problems she had detected within the force’s misconduct system, among them: cases were taking too long to resolve, allegations were more likely to be dismissed than acted on, the burden of raising concerns was prohibitive, the threshold for “gross misconduct” too great and a racial disparity reflected across the system.
Those early findings were echoed in Tuesday’s report, which said that “recruitment and vetting systems are poor and fail to guard against those who seek power in order to abuse it” and that they “do not effectively root out bad officers.”
“In the absence of vigilance towards those who intend to abuse the office of constable, predatory and unacceptable behaviour has been allowed to flourish,” the report added, calling for a root to branch overhaul of the system. “There are too many places for people to hide. The integrity of the organisation remains vulnerable to threat.”
Reacting to Casey’s report, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in a statement that he was deeply concerned by her findings: “The evidence is damning. Baroness Casey has found institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia, which I accept. She has described the Met as defensive, resistant to change and unwilling to engage with communities.”
“This review simply must be a turning point and I expect all the recommendations to be implemented quickly and in full,” he added.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman also reacted to the review, saying, “It is clear that there have been serious failures of culture and leadership in the Metropolitan Police – which is why the Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, has been taking action to restore confidence in policing in London.”
“There is much more to do and the task of rooting out unfit officers means that further unacceptable cases will come to light,” she said.
But Braverman also noted that there are many officers in the force who perform their duties with the “utmost professionalism” who had been “let down” by the behavior of others.