The head of the Metropolitan Police says there are still “toxic individuals” in the force and he feels “embarrassed” by a scathing review that found it is institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic.
Sir Mark Rowley described the review by Baroness Louise Casey as “very, very worrying”.
While fully accepting “the diagnosis” of the findings, Sir Mark would not use the term “institutionally racist” to describe the force.
Speaking to Sky News on Tuesday, he told Kay Burley: “We have a real problem here. We have misogyny, homophobia and racism in the organisation.
“We’re absolutely determined to deliver the transformation required.”
He added: “We’re removing officers more quickly. We’re tackling these issues. And meanwhile, day in and day out, I’ve got the officers of the force who are coming forward and they are absolutely determined to tackle this – the vast majority.
“I was embarrassed and angered by this… and we want to make a difference.”
Sir Mark said the recommendations from Baroness Casey “will massively influence thinking and the plans we have ahead to reform the policing in London as we strengthen our work in neighbourhoods, as we improve the response to victims and as we tackle the toxic individuals in the organisation“.
He admitted that “maybe” the Met has got “toxic individuals” of whom the force has “concerns about their predatory behaviour”.
“We’ve got people suspended. We’ve got people under investigation,” he said.
He said he will give a full update on the work to reform the Met by the end of the month.
Met Police needs ‘complete overhaul’
Baroness Louise Casey, who spent a year investigating the Met Police in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard by Couzens, concluded in her review that Britain’s largest force needs a “complete overhaul” and may need to be broken up.
Her 363-page report also found evidence of widespread bullying, racist attitudes and “deep-seated homophobia” in the force.
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In response, prime minister Rishi Sunak said work was already happening in police forces to regain people’s trust.
Rishi Sunak told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday that the Police Commissioner is “committed to doing that”, adding “there are already some changes underway at the moment”.
He said: “It’s not just in London, across the country we’ve changed the guidance for police forces, for how they vet new police officers.
“Currently in the process of all police forces are checking all their police officers again against the police database, and they’re all being inspected by the independent inspector of police forces to make sure that that’s all happening.”
Further unacceptable cases ‘will come to light’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said he accepts “full responsibility” for the review’s findings as the boss of the police service.
He told Sky News’s Kay Burley that Met’s Commissioner Sir Mark has his “confidence” and that he had lost confidence in the former Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick.
Mr Khan said what Baroness Casey is demanding is a “complete overhaul” of the Met Police.
On Sir Mark not accepting the full findings of the report in his interview with Burley, Mr Khan said: “I fully accept the report. I think the police service is usually racist, it’s usually homophobic, it’s usually misogynistic, and that’s sort of the complete overhaul. So the commissioner should look, again at accepting that.”
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said in a statement shared on Twitter that she is “confident that under Sir Mark’s leadership, progress is being made to reform standards and deliver common sense policing for all Londoners”.
However, she admitted there is “much more to do and the task of rooting out unfit officers means that further unacceptable cases will come to light”.
Meanwhile, Cabinet minister Mark Harper told Sky News on Tuesday that Baroness Casey’s review into the Metropolitan Police is “a very shocking and troubling report”.
He added that “Londoners have quite understandably lost a lot of confidence because of all of the terrible events that have taken place”.
“So the Commissioner has a very large job of work to do,” he said.
Review is a ‘wake-up call’
Shadow policing minister Sarah Jones told Sky News that Baroness Casey has “left no stone unturned” and that the Met Police “cannot police itself”.
She said it is a “wake-up call for us all”.
Ms Jones said Sir Mark needs to accept the full findings of the report and “fundamentally really change the cultures and the structures within the Met”.
“There are an array of recommendations that go to the very heart of what policing is about,” she said.
“I think fundamentally what Louise is saying is that policing attracts the best of humanity, but it will also attract predators and people who do harm.
“And in the same way that we have changed systems in education or in medicine, we need to do the same in policing.
“We need to make sure there aren’t predatory people allowed to exist in the Met and to continue, operate and be Metropolitan Police officers.”
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Community needs to be put back ‘at heart of policing’
Also reacting to the review was Nusrit Mehtab, former Scotland Yard superintendent, who described Baroness Casey’s report as “damning”, adding she has “held a mirror into the workforce”.
“And what you see is that they’re institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic. And it’s a police service that has lost its way. It is shocking and devastating for the people of London.”
She added that if the head of the Metropolitan Police Service will not accept the review’s recommendations, then an “independent body should be brought in to dismantle” the force.
“It’s a big beast and they do specialisms very well, in terms of putting investing money in the frontline policing, but neighbourhood policing has been neglected. So those are the things that they really do need to invest in and specialisms need to be hived off,” Ms Mehtab said.
“Police should just be focusing on local policing, neighbourhood policing, and they need to put community back at the heart of policing.”