Watchdog raises ‘serious concerns’ over performance of Met Police

A watchdog has expressed “serious concerns” about the performance of the Metropolitan Police after it found the force was “failing” in several areas of its work.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) said Scotland Yard urgently needs to make improvements by publishing its findings, just days after Sir Mark Rowley took over as Commissioner.

The force said it was “committed” to tackling the issues highlighted in the report, and new deputy commissioner Dame Lynne Owens said her commitment to London was “more trust, less crime, high standards”.

The watchdog called Britain’s largest police force inadequate in the way it responds to the public, though it felt it needed improvement in investigating crime, protecting vulnerable people, handling criminals, development of a positive workplace and good use of resources.

The force was considered adequate in two areas of his police work, but was only considered good in another.

The findings come three months after the watchdog put the Met on special measures amid “lingering concerns” about its performance, including incidents that “raised issues around trust”.

Police Inspector Matt Parr said his concerns about the force had been growing for “considerable time” and the watchdog’s latest report “raises serious concerns about how the force responds to the public and the level of understanding it has of its demand and its staff”.

Meanwhile, Staffordshire Police, who have been placed on special measures alongside the Met, have also been ordered to “urgently improve” their performance by the watchdog after “serious concerns” were raised about how it investigates crime. , responds to the public and monitors suspects and criminals. .

Mr. Parr said: “The Met needs to get better at how it responds to the public; currently, their call-handling teams can’t answer calls quickly enough. Furthermore, it is not properly documenting victims’ decisions to withdraw from an investigation or to accept an out-of-court disposition.

“Recording victims’ wishes is critical to supporting the criminal justice process and understanding what prevents victims from completing the investigative process. The Met needs to improve in this area.”

Currently, the force 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 101 number abandoned, compared to a goal of less than 10%.

The force also needs to better support its officers and staff, Parr said, adding: “Investigations are not always properly reviewed or monitored. There is an unfair distribution of work, which puts undue pressure on some staff members. The force needs to properly understand the demand to ensure it is allocating its personnel and resources effectively.”

The HMICFRS report said: “We found that the high proportion of inexperienced staff and the lack of experienced mentors for detectives meant that supervisors often taught staff how to investigate crimes rather than supervising them.”

But Parr stressed that the Met “operates under scrutiny other forces don’t,” praising how it led one of the largest police operations in UK history in the wake of the Queen’s death while dealing with an incident in which two of his 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 behavior, and has developed innovative techniques to improve the way it collects evidence and identifies perpetrators.” criminals, such as its new forensic technique to detect the presence of blood on dark clothing and its new rapid test kit for the addition of beverages.

The force will continue to face so-called enhanced monitoring by HMICFRS as part of the engagement process, known as special measures, Parr said.

The Met said the Commissioner had made it “very clear” that the force needs to improve and has a plan to do so, while Dame Lynne said she and Sir Mark were “determined to renew policing by consent, working with communities to provide the type”. of the police service that Londoners need and deserve.”

He added: “We will use data and information to improve the Met’s performance in crime fighting and prevention.

“We want to remove as many obstacles as possible to make it easier for hard-working officers to fight crime, deliver justice and support victims.”

Sir Mark Rowley took over as chief of the Metropolitan Police last week (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Sir Mark started as Commissioner last week during what is arguably one of the most turbulent times for the Met.

He took on the role after Dame Cressida Dick dramatically resigned earlier this year and as the force has been plagued by a series of scandals and missteps in recent years.

A public attitude survey by the Mayor of London’s Office of Police and Crime showed trust levels fell from an estimated 83% in the year to 31 March 2020 to an estimated 73% in the year ending 31 March 2022.

In a sternly worded letter before her tenure began, then-Home Secretary Priti Patel demanded Sir Mark address “egregious mistakes of the past”, listing the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, bare records of children and the abject failures in research. the death of the victims of serial killer Stephen Port among the key issues that had damaged public trust.

In response to the watchdog report, a Home Office spokesman said: “The findings of this report are deeply worrying. The people of London expect better and the Met must work to implement the necessary improvements as a matter of urgency.”

“Earlier this month the Home Secretary met with Sir Mark Rowley and reassured himself of his immediate plans to tackle these issues and restore public confidence in the police.

“The Met, as the largest force in the country, takes on immense responsibility and recently played a pivotal role during the national period of mourning for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It is essential that the professionalism shown in recent weeks is replicated in everything they do to keep the public safe.

“Ministers will closely monitor progress towards upgrading and rebuilding confidence. We look forward to the Mayor’s Office on Policing and Crime (MOPAC) working with Met leadership to bring about this transformation.”

There has also been outrage over racist, sexist and homophobic messages shared by a group of officers at Charing Cross Police Station between 2016 and 2018, questions have been raised about the force’s approach to combating corruption and its use of stop and search. , as well as on ongoing investigations. in deaths following police contact, including that of Chris Kaba, who was fatally shot by an officer.

A judge on Wednesday called comments made by a serving Met officer and a former agent “disgusting” and “abhorrent” as they were convicted of sending extremely offensive messages in a WhatsApp group with the killer of Ms. Everard.

In the wake of his murder, two separate reviews are being conducted at the Met and HMICFRS is also reviewing the investigative procedures used by all forces in England and Wales.

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