In an attempt to erradicate corruption, Metropolitan Police (Met) confirms that over 1,000 of its officers are currently suspended or on restricted duties. This major crackdown follows the damning conviction of David Carrick, a proven serial rapist, and the infamous Wayne Couzens, found guilty of murder.
Stuart Cundy of the Met postulated this number being nearly equivalent to an entire small police force, with about one in 34 officers being either suspended or working under limitations. Cundy, while cognizant of the magnitude of the task, projected that rooting out all corrupt officers could take years.
Apart from being the largest in Britain, with 34,000 officers, the Met shared some disheartening figures, highlighting the gravity of the situation:
- An alarming upsurge in the number of officers dismissed due to gross misconduct within the past year, a 66% rise from previous rate.
- A jump in the number of suspensions from 69 in September 2022 to an astonishing 201 from current statistics.
- An astounding 275 officers are pending hearings for gross misconduct, many of which are linked to alleged aggression towards women and girls, a significant increase from the preceding year’s tally of 136.
- An apprehensive twofold increase in complaints from the public and fellow officers reporting alleged misconduct.
Interestingly, about 450 are also under investigation for both recent and historical accusations of sexual or domestic violence, affirmed the Met.
In a candid chat with journalists at the iconic New Scotland Yard, Cundy unfurled plans of conducting nearly 30 misconduct and 30 gross incompetence hearings each month, leading to likely removal of about 60 officers monthly. However, he also acknowledged the possibility of some officers possibly wrongfully accused.
The Met has been storm-tossed by a series of scandalous events in recent years, sujecting it to scathing scrutiny, particularly after Baroness Casey’s review earlier this year. As a result, approximately one in three staff members from the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command – the elite team to which Couzens and Carrick belonged – were cleared out. This elite unit is made up of approximately 1,000 officers, with three-quarters armed and charged with the security of key sites like Parliament and London embassies.
Baroness Casey’s review exposed an insidious culture within the protection command unit, where derogatory comments were shrugged off as mere banter and supervision was lacking. Under new reforms, officers will no longer be allowed to serve indefinitely in the unit and will instead undergo mandatory rotation to other divisions of the Met every eight years.
Couzens, responsible for the murder of Sarah Everard in 2021, was handed a whole-life sentence, while Carrick, identified as a serial rapist who assaulted a dozen women over two decades, received a 30-year sentence in February.
In the wake of Carrick’s conviction, some 1,600 cases over the past decade where officers were accused of sexual or domestic violence and no action was taken, were reviewed. Of these, investigations into 450 cases remain ongoing.
Checks on all officers against records in the police national computer revealed 11 cases warranting further evaluation and five escalating to gross misconduct investigations.
Both police and civilian staff from the Met were checked against intelligence records on the Police National Database, resulting in 14 individuals being further scrutinised for potential gross misconduct, with more likely to follow, the most severe of these cases involving rape allegations.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman recently announced proposals to simplify the process for police chiefs to dismiss corrupt officers, with a presumption to terminate anyone guilty of gross misconduct.
Earlier this year, Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley expressed his frustration at not having the power to dismiss staff, claiming that the force harbors “hundreds of people who shouldn’t be here”. He concluded, “In all cases, I don’t have the final say on who’s in the Metropolitan Police. I know that sounds mad, I’m the commissioner.”