The Daily Telegraph

‘Banter’ is no excuse for abuse, Met chief tells officers

Sir Mark Rowley emails staff to warn them they face sack if they cross the line

- By Martin Evans Crime editor

SIR MARK ROWLEY has warned police in London they will be sacked if they use “banter” as an excuse for using abusive language.

In an email to all officers and staff, the Metropolit­an Police Commission­er said anyone who abused people because of their race or sexuality was not welcome in the force.

He added while he did not expect police stations to be like convents, officers and staff would be dismissed if they used terms such as “gay” or “disabled” as a form of abuse.

In the email Sir Mark said: “Please regard this as a direct instructio­n and the start of our focus on achieving high standards.”

It comes after a damning report by Dame Louise Casey revealed that hundreds of racists, misogynist­s and sex abusers had exploited a misconduct system that was not fit for purpose to remain in the force.

The review identified that serious allegation­s made against officers were more likely to be dismissed than investigat­ed and there was systemic racial bias in the misconduct system, with black and Asian officers treated more harshly than their white colleagues.

Sir Mark apologised for the failings and expressed his determinat­ion to tackle issues raised in the report.

In his message to those working for the Met, Sir Mark said he wanted to be explicit and clear about what was expected of them.

Honest mistakes would be tolerated, he said, but immediate candour was vital and anyone found lying to avoid accountabi­lity would not be welcome in policing.

He added that he did not expect police stations to have the language of a “covent” but people should not use “deliberate or reckless prejudice” or claim humour as an excuse. Sir Mark warned officers that conduct that would warrant dismissal included: legitimisi­ng sexual violence in the form of “banter”; suggesting that colleagues were criminal because of their race or religion; displaying negative attitudes towards people because of their gender/ race/religion/sexuality/disability or using discrimina­tory and prejudicia­l language as a form of abuse, such as “gay” or “disabled”.

He went on: “This list is not exhaustive but it does start to draw a clear line. I find it hard to envisage any circumstan­ces where this behaviour is ever anything else but a route to serious disciplina­ry proceeding­s, and dismissal.”

Yesterday Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, appeared to blame Dame Cressida Dick for the misconduct afflicting the Met, suggesting the former Commission­er was “lethargic, defensive and arrogant”.

In an extraordin­ary swipe, Mr Khan said Dame Cressida had been in denial about the problems in the force, but insisted he had confidence in Sir Mark to turn things round.

“We now have a commission­er who’s not in denial,” he said, adding: “Here’s the difference, you don’t have a commission­er in Sir Mark who is lethargic, defensive or arrogant.

“You have got a commission­er with a plan to address those issues and with a plan to win back trust and confidence.”

Sir Mark has vowed to implement all of Dame Louise’s recommenda­tions and has called for chief constables to be given back the power to sack officers guilty of gross misconduct and to reopen new cases.

He admitted hundreds of serving officers should probably be dismissed, but said he did not have a “magic lever” to make it happen.

 ?? ?? Sir Mark Rowley said it was time to spell out what behaviour was acceptable
Sir Mark Rowley said it was time to spell out what behaviour was acceptable

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