London's Troubled Metropolitan Police Service Searches for a New Leader

London's Troubled Metropolitan Police Service Searches for a New Chief

LONDON — London’s police division was already coping with a disaster of belief amid allegations of misogyny, racism and bullying when it turned embroiled in a political drama. Final month, it opened an investigation into events at Downing Road throughout lockdown that might decide Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s political destiny.

The very last thing the division wanted was extra uncertainty. Then its chief, Cressida Dick, stepped down under intense pressure.

“It comes on the most dreadful time for the group,” stated Zoë Billingham, a former inspector for an impartial police watchdog group in Britain, referring to the power, the Metropolitan Police Service, and to Ms. Dick’s resignation final week. “And it’s within the midst of investigating the prime minister for a possible crime. You nearly can’t think about a conceivably worse state of affairs.”

Ms. Dick’s resignation additional uncovered the fraught political second during which the London police service finds itself whereas it’s also below heavy stress to deal with an inside tradition {that a} report final month stated was rife with sexism and racism.

The power’s capacity to handle these points now appears to be caught in the course of a political combat between two highly effective, formidable figures in opposing events.

On one facet is Priti Patel, the Conservative dwelling secretary, who oversees policing nationally and who had lengthy stood behind Ms. Dick, supporting her plan for overhauls. On the opposite is Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London and a member of the opposition Labour Celebration, who pressured Ms. Dick to step down, making it clear he not had confidence in her management.

The requires Ms. Dick’s resignation started early final 12 months after the kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old London lady, by a police officer. The killing fueled a nationwide dialog about issues with policing, and late final 12 months, the federal government announced an inquiry into the power.

Ms. Billingham stated a report two weeks ago from the official police watchdog that laid naked deeply troubling messages between officers in a single central London police station was the ultimate tipping level in a protracted sequence of points that had eroded public belief within the power.

The report detailed racism and xenophobia, with messages exchanged between officers mocking the Black Lives Matter motion and non-Christian religions, and containing deeply misogynistic feedback about rape, homophobic feedback and insults about folks with disabilities. 9 of the folks concerned are nonetheless serving as cops, and two had been promoted within the years for the reason that messages had been despatched.

“You couldn’t think about this being a dialog being held in any stroll of life, not to mention policing,” Ms. Billingham stated. “The homophobia, the racism and misogyny. What I discovered actually disturbing was the glorification of home abuse — it was simply unforgivable.”

Mr. Khan had pressured Ms. Dick to step down quickly after the revelations.

Now the method begins to nominate Ms. Dick’s alternative. The commissioner is technically appointed by the queen, however she is going to settle for a suggestion from Ms. Patel, the house secretary.

However because the commissioner’s put up is each a metropolis position and a nationwide one — the Metropolitan Police Service oversees counterterrorism policing and has different nationwide duties — Ms. Patel is legally required to consider the views of the mayor of London.

A spokesman for the Dwelling Workplace stated in a press release, “The Dwelling Secretary is dedicated to deciding on the precise chief for the most important police power within the nation, who will deal with decreasing violence within the metropolis, tackling the abuse of girls and women, ridding our streets of medicine, knives and weapons, saving lives and defending the general public from those that want to do them hurt.”

Ms. Patel thanked Ms. Dick for her service, highlighting the truth that she was the primary girls to guide the power however acknowledging that “policing tradition, conduct, attitudes and behaviors have rightly all come below scrutiny.” The brand new chief “should deal with these institutional points which have introduced nice disgrace on parts of policing,” she added.

However Ms. Patel’s priorities for the brand new commissioner could battle with these of Mr. Khan, the London mayor, who has taken a more durable stance, pointing to “deep cultural points” inside the metropolis’s police power.

The opposition Labour Celebration has been extremely important of Ms. Patel. Yvette Cooper, the opposition lawmaker liable for policing, stated in an interview with the BBC that the house secretary had been “silent” on policing for the final 12 months, and called on the government to do more to make way for reforms.

Mr. Khan, in an editorial last weekend in The Observer, stated that he was “deeply involved by how public belief and confidence in London’s police service has been shattered so badly” by the latest watchdog report and “a succession of great incidents.”

He stated he wouldn’t assist any candidate who didn’t “clearly show that they perceive the size of the cultural issues inside the Met and the urgency with which they have to be addressed.”

Policing consultants agree that it is going to be important for the brand new chief to establish and urgently handle the problematic tradition.

Ms. Billingham stated that almost all officers had been doing good jobs however that it was essential for the incoming chief to simply accept the size of the issue and to create a tradition during which misogyny, racism, homophobia and bullying weren’t tolerated.

Janet Hills, who labored as a Metropolitan Police detective sergeant for 3 many years and led London’s federation of Black officers earlier than turning into president of the Nationwide Black Police Affiliation, stated {that a} troubling tradition was capable of thrive below Ms. Dick as a result of there was a disconnect between these in energy and decrease rating officers.

“There isn’t any understanding of what’s taking place on the bottom ground — these folks behaving that manner have been allowed to do it unchallenged,” Ms. Hills stated. “And that for me is the place it had fallen down for this present commissioner.”

Crucially, Ms. Hills stated, Ms. Dick handled the racism inside the power as a problem of the previous and failed to handle the clear issues that had come to mild. Ms. Hills pointed to the 1999 Macpherson Report, a groundbreaking inquiry after the homicide of an 18-year-old Black man named Stephen Lawrence in 1993, that labeled the dealing with of the loss of life as institutionally racist. She stated that Ms. Dick had acted as if the power had moved on from these occasions.

“However we have now not,” Ms. Hills stated, “as a result of we’ve by no means addressed it.”

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