Ruislip & Eastcote & Northwood Gazette
‘Serious concerns’ over force
WATCHDOG FINDINGS SHOW METROPOLITAN POLICE IS ‘FAILING IN SEVERAL AREAS’
A WATCHDOG has raised “serious concerns” about the performance of the Metropolitan Police after it found the force was “failing” in several areas of its work.
His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) said Scotland Yard must make “urgent improvements” as it published its findings, just days after Sir Mark Rowley took over as Commissioner.
The watchdog graded Britain’s biggest police force as inadequate in the way it responds to the public. It also found the Met required improvement in investigating crime, protecting vulnerable people, managing offenders, developing a positive workplace and making a good use of resources.
The dire findings come three months after the Met was put into special measures by the watchdog amid “persistent concerns” about its performance, including incidents which “raised issues around confidence and trust”.
Inspector of constabulary Matt Parr said his concerns about the force had been growing for a “considerable time” and the watchdog’s latest report “raises serious concerns about how the force responds to the public and the level of understanding the force has about its demand and its workforce”.
He said: “The Met must get better at how it responds to the public – currently its call handling teams are unable to answer calls quickly enough. In addition, it isn’t correctly documenting the decisions of victims to withdraw from an investigation or to accept an outof-court disposal.”
He added: “Recording victims’ wishes is vital to support the criminal justice process and to understand what is stopping victims from being able to complete the investigation process. The Met must improve in this area.”
The force currently answers 63.9% of 999 calls within 10 seconds, against a national target of 90%.
It also sees 36.6% of calls to the non-emergency number 101 abandoned, compared to a goal of less than 10%.
The force must also better support its officers and staff, Mr Parr said, adding: “Investigations are not always reviewed or overseen properly.
“There’s an unfair allocation of work, which puts undue pressure on some staff.
“The force needs to properly understand demand to ensure it is allocating its staff and resources effectively.”
The HMICFRS report said it found a high proportion of inexperienced staff, as well as a lack of experienced tutors for detectives, which meant supervisors were often teaching staff how to investigate crime, rather than supervising officers.
Sir Mark started as commissioner on September 12, during what is arguably one of the most turbulent times for the Met.
He took on the role after Dame Cressida Dick dramatically quit earlier this year and while the force has been plagued by a series of scandals and missteps in recent years.
A public attitude survey from the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime showed that trust levels fell from an estimated 83% in the year to March 31 2020, to an estimated 73% in the year ending March 31 2022.
In a sternly-worded letter before his tenure began, then-home secretary Priti Patel demanded that Sir Mark address the “appalling mistakes of the past”.
She listed the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, strip searches of children and the abject failures investigating the deaths of the victims of serial killer Stephen Port among the key issues that had damaged public confidence. There was also outrage over a series of disturbing racist, sexist and homophobic messages shared by a group of officers based at Charing Cross police station between 2016 and 2018.
Questions have been raised over its approach to tackling corruption after the inquiry into the Daniel Morgan probe while the findings from another watchdog laid bare how drugs, money and jewellery were going missing from evidence stores.
There has also been criticism over the force’s use of stop and search and how it is addressing violent crime in the capital as well as ongoing investigations into deaths following police contact, including that of Chris Kaba, who was fatally shot by an officer.
Two separate reviews into the Met are taking place – one, commissioned by Dame Cressida, is being led by Baroness Casey to scrutinise the force’s culture, while the Angiolini inquiry will look at the police career and conduct of Ms Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens.
HMICFRS is also reviewing vetting procedures used by all forces in England and Wales in the wake of Ms Everard’s murder.
However, Mr Parr also stressed that the Met “operates under scrutiny other forces do not face”, praising how it led one of the biggest police operations in the UK’s history in the wake of the Queen’s death, while also contending with an incident in which two of its officers were stabbed.
The findings also describe “many successes and some examples of innovation”, he said, adding that the Met is “good at preventing crime and antisocial behaviour, and has developed innovative techniques to improve how it collects evidence and identifies offenders, such as its new forensic technique for detecting the presence of blood on dark clothing and its new rapid testing kit for drink spiking”.
The force will continue to face socalled enhanced monitoring by HMICFRS as part of the engage process, known as being put into special measures, Mr Parr said.