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About 1,600 Metropolitan Police officers and staff are being investigated for alleged violence against women or sexual abuse, figures that expose the historic failure of London’s police force to root out predators within its ranks.
The Met launched a vast vetting and review process of its nearly 45,000 officers and staff after the 2021 rape and murder of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens, then a serving officer.
The sweeping internal probe is an attempt to weed out those guilty of misconduct or crimes and restore trust after a string of scandals about rogue police officers attacking members of the public.
The Met has called the effort under Sir Mark Rowley, who took over command of the UK’s largest police force a year ago, its “strongest doubling down on standards” in 50 years.
Stuart Cundy, the deputy assistant commissioner leading the standards review, said on Monday that 100 officers had been dismissed for gross misconduct in the past 12 months.
More than 1,000 officers, he added, have been suspended or had their roles restricted while investigations into a variety of allegations are undertaken.
The 1,600 cases of alleged domestic or sexual abuse under review related to allegations from the last 10 years that involved a serving officer or member of staff “where the allegation did not result in a dismissal at the time”.
“Our job is to understand the risk they pose to the public and the risk they pose to their colleagues,” Cundy said at New Scotland Yard, the Met’s headquarters.
Reforms to the Met were initiated in the wake of the murder committed by Couzens, an officer then serving in the parliamentary and diplomatic protection (PADP) unit. This year, another officer, David Carrick, was convicted for the rape of multiple women while he was serving in the same unit.
Both cases shocked the UK, putting the spotlight on a culture of misogyny and violence in parts of the police.
Another serving Met officer was charged earlier this year with rape, strangulation and other crimes, some of which he committed while on duty.
Cundy said that by “turning over every stone” the Met was uncovering a growing number of offenders.
“The harder we work to identify those people who shouldn’t be in policing, the more difficult cases, the more difficult stories will become public,” Cundy said. He added that police misconduct and incompetence hearings were “too slow” and dragging the whole process out.
Backlogs in the courts also mean that criminal cases, including for the officer charged this year with rape, were being pushed back to 2025.
The Met hopes to increase the number of cases dealt with at misconduct and incompetence hearings to 60 a month. Rowley has also pressed the government to transfer powers of dismissal to police commissioners from independent lawyers who currently chair misconduct proceedings.
Meanwhile, the senior command of the PADP unit has been changed, a third of officers in the unit have been rotated out, and a further third will be by 2025, according to Laurence Taylor, the deputy assistant commissioner in charge of protection.
The Met also drew attention on Monday to its efforts to diversify the force by bringing the proportion of women up from 18 to 20 per cent, and the number of officers from black and minority ethnic backgrounds from 11 to 20 per cent.
In a damning report released after she led an independent inquiry, Baroness Louise Casey said the Met was guilty of “institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia” and should be broken up if it could not effect a complete overhaul.