New police chief is urged to repair ‘damaged’ trust in Met

Town Hall calls for shake-up in capital’s force

Friday, 22nd July — By Charlotte Chambers

Police station

COUNCIL chiefs have written to the new head of the Metropolitan Police demanding “root and branch reform” in the wake of the force being put under special measures.

The letter, written directly to Sir Mark Rowley, calls on him to repair “damaged” trust between police and communities over “a series of scandals and events” that have “thrown the reputation of the Metropolitan Police into disrepute”.

Among the key failings that have led to a breakdown in relations, Islington Council leader Councillor Kaya Comer-Schwartz and safety chief Councillor John Woolf cited the “mishandling” of the Sarah Everard vigil, where officers were accused of being heavy-handed with peaceful demonstrators over the murder of the south London woman by a serving police officer.

The “awful” strip search of Child Q in Hackney was also highlighted along with the behaviour of officers, who were later charged with misconduct after they took photos of two murdered sisters in a Wembley park.

They also referenced the botched investigation into the murders of four men in east London – currently being re-investi­gated by police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) – which an inquest last year found “probably contributed to the deaths of three of the men”.

The Met were put into a form of special measures at the end of June, and will be subject to closer scrutiny and support. The Engage level of monitoring – the measures’ official title – is used when a force “is not succeeding in managing, mitigating or eradicating” a cause of concern.

Islington Council leader Councillor Kaya Comer-Schwartz

Cllr Comer-Schwartz and Cllr Woolf said the appointment of Sir Mark “must be a turning point for the organisation”, after he was announced as Dame Cressida Dick’s replacement last week. She was forced to resign in February following criticism of her by London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan.

A report into “banter” shared between officers at Charing Cross by the IOPC uncovered “a culture of misogyny, harassment, racism and homophobia” in the Met – and warned not only were these incidents “not isolated or simply the behaviour of a few ‘bad apples’” but also they were “not historic”.

In their letter, Islington’s top brass warned that recent scandals had led to a “growing mistrust among Londoners” for the police and that “without trust, the vital aspect of policing by consent is impossible”.

The letter went on: “We need a Metropolitan Police that people in Islington can trust and be proud of, and your appoint­ment as new Commissioner must be a turning point for the organisation. In particular, we have seen the Met’s treatment of women and girls, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, LGBTQ+ people and many other minority groups shown to be not up to scratch and this needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

“We were delighted to see the Mayor of London say that you are committed to root and branch reform of the Metropolitan Police, as that is exactly what is needed.”

They also urged him to demand the Met receive proper funding to “do its job of keeping London safe”. This follows year-on-year cuts from the Home Office since 2011, when the Met received 29 per cent more grant money than it does now.

The Met did not comment on the letter from Islington but Sir Mark said on his appointment: “Our mission is to lead the renewal of policing by consent which has been so heavily dented in recent years, as trust and confidence have fallen. We will deliver more trust, less crime and high standards for London and beyond, and we will work with London’s diverse communities as we tog­ether renew the uniquely British invention of ‘policing by consent’.”

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