Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley today denied Scotland Yard is institutionally racist in the wake of the most damning report in its near 200-year history and calls for it to be broken up.
Britain’s top police officer has refused to resign as ministers gave him their backing as he vowed to turn the force around after Dame Louise Casey said its ranks are riven with racism, misogyny and homophobia.
Baroness Casey, who spent a year examining the Yard’s culture and practices following the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by PC Wayne Couzens, said there was a ‘rot’ at its heart that allowed racism to go unchallenged and predatory behaviour to ‘flourish’. The force’s reputation has been further damaged by the horrific crimes of serial rapist David Carrick.
Speaking this morning Sir Mark described the findings as ‘deeply worrying’, adding that you cannot read the report and not be ‘upset, embarrassed and humbled’. But he has provoked a row by rejecting the label that the Met was guilty of ‘institutional’ racism, misogyny and homophobia, saying it was ‘politicised and ambiguous’.
He told Sky News: ‘I absolutely accept the diagnosis that Louise Casey comes up with. We have racists, misogynists and homophobes in the organisation. And it’s not just about individuals. We have systemic failings, management failings and cultural failings.’
He said the reason he does not use the term ‘institutional’ is because he thinks it is ‘a very ambiguous’ term. ‘Everyone uses different definitions,’ he said, adding there are ‘toxic individuals’ in the Met who are in the process of being removed.
Sir Mark Rowley, the head of the Metropolitan Police, has admitted you cannot read the report and not be ‘upset, embarrassed and humbled’.
Baroness Casey said the murder of Ms Everard by serving firearms officer Wayne Couzens (pictured) should have been like a ‘plane falling out of the sky’ for Scotland Yard
Serial rapist David Carrick was jailed for life with a minimum term of 32 years after carrying out a ‘catalogue of violent and brutal’ sex attacks between 2003 and 2020 against at least a dozen women.
‘We’ve got toxic individuals, some of whom who’ve got concerns about their predatory behaviour. We’ve got people suspended. We’ve got people under investigation. We are rooting them out of this organisation,’ he said.
Scotland Yard is ‘broken’ and its ranks are ‘rotten’, the shock review says today.
The year-long probe also made these horrifying discoveries:
- Alleged rapists went free after fridges broke down, destroying all the evidence inside meaning all the cases had to be dropped. Some were so full it took three officers to shut them and one fridge was also being used to store lunch alongside forensic samples;
- A Muslim officer had bacon put in his shoes by a colleague, a Sikh officer had his beard trimmed and nother officer had his turban put into a shoe box because they ‘thought it was funny’. In one instance a black guard was referred to as a ‘gate monkey’ by colleagues;
- Female officers were targeted by men for sex. Some felt pressure to sleep with colleagues to be popular. One officer was even allegedly sexually assaulted in a shower. One woman said a senior officer masturbated in front of her in the communal changing room.
- ‘Pranks’ included bags of urine being thrown at cars, sex toys slipped into coffee mugs, male officers flicking each other’s genitals and an animal being trapped in an officer’s locker. There is widespread bullying at the Yard, with a fifth of staff being victimised;
- Homophobia is rife. One gay officer said colleague spread false rumours that he had slept with senior officers to get ahead and made up claims he was taking drugs. Colleagues werer accused of making malicious complaints about gay people and even considering using stop and search to target them. One said: ‘I am scared of the police. I don’t trust my own organisation’;
- The parliamentary and diplomatic protection unit where Couzens and Carrick worked is described as a ‘dark corner’ of the Met known as ‘overtime command’. Officers often join to pay for weddings and top up their pensions. he review found that officers ‘game the system’ to cash in on overtime and other bonuses, wasting public money on unnecessary overseas training trips and hotel rooms.
- In the ‘boys’ club’, senior armed officers have competitions to see if they can make female colleagues cry and put up posters in common areas showing female firearms officers carrying mops, irons and kettles instead of weapons. One officer said: ‘It’s the most toxic, racist, sexist place I’ve ever worked – it’s just an unbelievable place.’
The Met cannot be trusted to police itself and may harbour many more predatory officers like Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens and serial rapist David Carrick, it concludes.
The force is described as institutionally racist and corrupt as well as misogynistic and homophobic.
Baroness Casey said successive Met commissioners had ‘failed to ensure the integrity of its officers and the organisation’.
But new commissioner Sir Mark immediately provoked a row by rejecting the label that the Met was guilty of ‘institutional’ racism, misogyny and homophobia, saying it was ‘politicised and ambiguous’.
Baroness Casey demanded a ‘complete overhaul’ of the £4billion service, saying anything less would be ‘clutching at straws’.
The Prime Minister has said trust in the Metropolitan Police has been ‘hugely damaged’.
Asked whether he believed his daughters could trust the police in London, Rishi Sunak told BBC Breakfast: ‘Of course we need the answer to that question to be yes.
‘Clearly at the moment trust in the police has been hugely damaged by the things that we’ve discovered over the past year.’
Scotland Yard is ‘broken’ and its ‘rotten’ ranks are riven with racism, misogyny and homophobia, a shock review led by Baroness Louise Casey (pictured) says today
Rishi Sunak said work was already happening in police forces to regain people’s trust.
The Prime Minister told BBC Breakfast: ‘I know that the Police Commissioner is committed to doing that, is committed to making the changes.
‘There are already some changes under way at the moment, by the way.
‘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.
‘So those are all things that will help give people confidence, but you talk about my daughter – ultimately I want both my daughters to grow up in a society which not only do they have real trust in the police, it’s just fundamentally safe.’
The peer said the murder of Ms Everard by serving firearms officer Couzens should have been like a ‘plane falling out of the sky’ for Scotland Yard.
But instead it ‘preferred to pretend that their own perpetrators of unconscionable crimes were just ‘bad apples’, or not police officers at all’.
Baroness Casey warned there was nothing to stop other rapists in the ranks, adding: ‘In the absence of vigilance toward those who intend to abuse the office of constable, predatory and unacceptable behaviour has been allowed to flourish. There are too many places for people to hide.’
Characterising a culture of ‘blindness, arrogance and prejudice’, her report identified failings across nearly all departments, which have been ignored due to a ‘culture of denial and defensiveness’.
In conclusion, Baroness Casey said the force had lost public trust and become ‘unanchored’ from the founding principles established by Robert Peel in 1829.
‘The Met is in danger of losing its way – consent is broken,’ she said. ‘Too often, the Met seems to act in its own self interest rather than the interests of the public it serves.’
Her report found ‘widespread bullying’ in the ranks, a ‘deep-seated homophobia’, and ‘systemic racial bias’ so prevalent it was considered ‘not worth reporting’ by some officers.
The finding that the force is institutionally racist echoes that of the Macpherson Inquiry in 1999, which took place after the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence and abject failures in that investigation.
The devastating independent report was commissioned after the murder of Sarah Everard (pictured)
She added: ‘It is rot when you treat Londoners in a racist and unacceptable fashion. That is rotten. That goes back over a long period of time.’
Her 363-page report found violence against women and girls had not been taken as seriously as other forms of violence. Baroness Casey made 16 recommendations for change, saying the force should be broken up if it did not reform.
Her recommendations include disbanding the Met’s Diplomatic and Parliamentary Protection Unit, to which both Couzens and Carrick belonged. Sir Mark admitted the Met had ‘let people down’ but he promised ‘radical reform’.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: ‘The evidence is damning. Baroness Casey has found institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia, which I accept.’
Home Secretary Suella Braverman added: ‘It is clear that there have been serious failures of culture and leadership.’
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said the report would just dishearten police officers, adding that they were already ‘on their knees’.
Rotten state of Scotland Yard laid bare: Shattering 363-page dossier reveals how rape samples were stored next to a lunchbox in the fridge, sex toys were slipped into coffee mugs and racist officers left bacon in a Muslim colleague’s boots
It is the most damning report in the near 200-year history of Scotland Yard.
Baroness Casey blasted the Metropolitan Police, saying that bullying and predatory behaviour reigned, bosses were unable to spot rapists in the ranks and victims were made to feel like an ‘inconvenience’.
In excoriating detail her review set out how the Met lost its way.
Baroness Casey pictured arriving at Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre yesterday for the press briefing of her review into the standards of behaviour and internal culture of the Metropolitan Police Service
Baroness Casey’s report has set out how the Met Police has lost its way. Pictured: File image
CRUCIAL RAPE EVIDENCE LOST WHEN FREEZERS FAIL
Evidence from countless rape probes has been destroyed because of broken fridges and freezers, the review found. A lunchbox was found in the same fridge as rape samples – a mistake that would have contaminated the evidence.
Forensic kits that preserve evidence obtained from survivors of sexual violence, including swabs, blood, urine and underwear, are stuffed in fridges so full it takes three officers to close them – one to push the door closed, one to hold it shut and one to secure the lock.
All the fridges used for rape kits were in bad shape, packed and ruining evidence, Baroness Casey found. She described freezers overflowing with evidence samples, frosted over or taped shut. In a heatwave last year, one broke down and all rape victims whose samples were in that fridge were told their cases would be dropped.
Pictured is rapist and murderer PC Wayne Couzens who served in the Met Police
One female officer said she had ‘lost count’ of the number of times she had asked a colleague where the necessary evidence was before being told that it had been lost.
Another officer told of year-long waits for toxicology results and forensic examination of phones. Separately police are being told to regularly delete their WhatsApps in the wake of a string of scandals about officers swapping vile messages with each other.
Deputy Commissioner Dame Lynne Owens admitted yesterday that she did not know how many cases had been dropped as a result of the fridge issues.
BULLYING BAKED INTO THE SYSTEM
Baroness Casey described a ‘bullying culture’ where discrimination was ‘baked into the system’.
Young recruits are subjected to humiliating initiation rituals right from the beginning of their careers, including food eating challenges and being urinated on.
One officer was even allegedly sexually assaulted in a shower. Examples of ‘pranks’ included bags of urine being thrown at cars, sex toys slipped into coffee mugs, male officers flicking each other’s genitals and an animal being trapped in an officer’s locker.
One Muslim officer said: ‘I found bacon left in my boots inside my locked locker. I was horrified. I didn’t want to be branded a person who played the race card and out of fear of reprisals did not tell anyone at the time.’
Another recalled: ‘There have been a number of incidents where baptised [Sikh] officers are picked on. One officer had his beard cut because an officer thought it was funny. Another officer had his turban put into a shoe box because they thought it was funny.’
ARMED UNITS ARE THE ‘DARK CORNER’
The report said Scotland Yard’s armed units were a ‘dark corner’ of the force.
Baroness Casey described ‘elitist attitudes and toxic cultures of bullying, racism, sexism and ableism’ in the Specialist Firearms Command and Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, where Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens and serial rapist David Carrick were officers.
In the ‘boys’ club’, senior armed officers have competitions to see if they can make female colleagues cry and put up posters in common areas showing female firearms officers carrying mops, irons and kettles instead of weapons. One officer said: ‘It’s the most toxic, racist, sexist place I’ve ever worked – it’s just an unbelievable place.’
Pictured is serial rapist PC David Carrick who served in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command
In one instance a black guard was referred to as a ‘gate monkey’ by colleagues. Officers are also told it is alright to ‘colour outside the lines’ – meaning to bend and break rules – because firearms police are harder to replace. The review found that officers ‘game the system’ to cash in on overtime and other bonuses, wasting public money on unnecessary overseas training trips and hotel rooms. The unit is known as ‘overtime command’ and officers join to pay off their weddings and top up their pensions.
Baroness Casey said it should be shut down, adding: ‘It is a dark corner of the Met where poor behaviours can easily flourish and are both harder to spot and harder to stop.’
A TOXIC WORKPLACE FOR WOMEN
Tales abound of young female officers being ‘traded like cattle’ and moved to different units depending on which male officers found them attractive. One female officer recalled a colleague forcing her to sit on his lap before touching her intimately and performing a sex act while she was in communal changing rooms. On another occasion he forcibly started to undress her while they were on duty.
When she complained the case was dropped and she was made out to be a ‘troublemaker’. One female officer said: ‘The Met is a male-orientated and misogynistic environment filled with testosterone, notches on bed posts and conquests. Senior officers and supervisors prey on females like predators.’
HOMOPHOBIA RIFE AMONG THE RANKS
Almost one in five lesbian, gay, or bisexual staff surveyed said they had experienced homophobia and 14 per cent said it was once or twice a week.
One male officer was targeted on social media with homophobic slurs and malicious rumours about drugs.
WhatsApp messages were exchanged by colleagues about stopping and searching him while he was off duty. He told the review: ‘I am scared of the police. I don’t trust my own organisation. I will vary the route I walk to avoid walking past police officers when I am not at work.’
Baroness Casey said the force was institutionally homophobic, adding that 30 per cent of LGBTQ+ employees said they had been bullied.
Pictured is Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley
‘WILFUL BLINDNESS’ TO INSTITUTIONAL RACISM
The review found the force was institutionally racist and had failed to tackle the ‘rot’ present for many years. Black officers were 81 per cent more likely to be subject to a misconduct case than white officers.
One senior officer was openly asked in a large meeting in 2022: ‘Did you get to where you got to because you are black.’
And a black woman told the review: ‘You have to try and be invisible as a black woman… If you complain you get a reputation as being trouble and then supervisors try and pass you on to other teams.’
The 363-page report also acknowledged disproportionality – with black Londoners being ‘overpoliced’. It concluded there was a ‘wilful blindness’ and continued failure by commanders at Scotland Yard to accept and to address racism.
‘The rape detection rate is so low you may as well say it’s legal in London’: Review exposes how victims were made to feel like an ‘inconvenience’ by overworked and inexperienced Met Police officers
A damning review into the Met Police found that rape and domestic violence victims were made to feel like an ‘inconvenience’ and ‘gaslighted’ by overworked and inexperienced officers.
One officer said: ‘If you look at our performance around rape, serious sexual offences, the detection rate is so low you may as well say it’s legal in London.
‘It’s kind of reflective of how we treat and view our female colleagues. You get victim-blaming, looking at a situation and not believing them.’
Rape victims described being told they ‘should and could have done more’ to protect themselves by sarcastic, rude and dismissive investigators.
Many officers are desperate to close cases with NFA – ‘no further action’. One admitted: ‘The incentive is get it NFA’d because we have to do so much work to get it up and then the Crown Prosecution Service will NFA anyway.’
A damning review into the Met Police found victims were made to feel like an ‘inconvenience’ by overworked and inexperienced Met Police officers. Pictured: Sarah Everard who was raped and murdered by serving officer Wayne Couzens in 2021
A community officer added: ‘The best outcome is closing a report to reduce your workload.’
Domestic abuse crimes have doubled in London since 2012 and reported rapes have also gone up 244 per cent over this period, leaving officers swamped with work and dealing with 65 rape cases at a time.
Researchers found a woman raped and left in a coma was likely to be dealt with by a trainee detective.
Officers said victims could wait months to hear about their case and some were left suicidal.
One said: ‘You don’t want to be a victim of rape in London. Anyone who relies on policing in London for anything I’m scared for.’
Baroness Casey said promises to tackle violence against women and girls ‘ring hollow’.