Metropolitan Police: Casey Review

– in the House of Commons at on 21 March 2023.

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Photo of Lindsay Hoyle Lindsay Hoyle Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, House of Commons Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Conference Committee, Chair, Speaker's Conference Committee, Chair, Restoration and Renewal Client Board Committee, Chair, Restoration and Renewal Client Board Committee

Given the importance of the issues raised by the statement we are about to hear, I am waiving the House’s sub judice resolution. However, I would ask Members to exercise caution and avoid referring to the detail of any cases that are currently or soon to be before the courts, to avoid any risk of prejudicing proceedings, particularly criminal ones. I call the Home Secretary.

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department 12:34, 21 March 2023

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on Baroness Casey’s review of the Metropolitan police. I wish to put on record my thanks to Baroness Casey for undertaking the review on such a difficult and sensitive topic with the utmost professionalism.

The Metropolitan Police Service plays a big role in our country: tackling crime throughout the capital and keeping 9 million Londoners safe; preventing terrorism nationally; and managing significant threats to our capital and country. I back the police. I trust them to put their safety before ours, to step into danger to protect the most vulnerable, and to support all of us at our most fearful, painful and tragic moments. Many of us can never imagine the challenges that regular police officers face every day. That is particularly poignant as tomorrow marks the sixth anniversary of the murder of PC Keith Palmer in the line of duty while he was protecting all of us in this place. For their contribution, I am sure all Members will join me in thanking the police for their work.

But there have been growing concerns around the performance of the Metropolitan police and its ability to command the confidence and trust of Londoners. That follows a series of abhorrent cases of officers who betrayed the public’s trust and hideously abused their powers. In June last year, His Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary and fire and rescue services announced that the force would be put into an Engage phase. In July, the Government appointed Sir Mark Rowley to the post of Metropolitan Police Commissioner, with the express purpose of turning the organisation around.

Today’s report, commissioned by Sir Mark’s predecessor, makes for very concerning reading. It is clear that there have been serious failures of culture, leadership and standards in the Metropolitan police. That is why Sir Mark Rowley’s top priority since becoming commissioner has been to deliver a plan to turn around the Met and restore confidence in policing in London. Baroness Casey’s report finds: deep-seated cultural issues in the force; persistent poor planning and short-termism; a failure of local accountability; insularity and defensiveness; and a lack of focus on core areas of policing, including public protection. She also highlights the recent decline in trust and confidence in the Met among London’s diverse communities.

The report underlines the fact that the Met faces a long road to recovery. Improvements must be made as swiftly as possible, but some of the huge challenges for the organisation may take years to fully address. Baroness Casey is clear that Sir Mark and deputy commissioner Lynne Owens accept the scale of those challenges. I know that to be true from my own work with them. I will ensure that the Metropolitan police has all the support it needs from central Government to deliver on Sir Mark’s pledge of more trust, less crime and high standards. Every officer in the force needs to be part of making those changes happen.

As I said as soon as I became Home Secretary, I want all forces to focus relentlessly on common sense policing that stops crime and keeps the public safe. The Government are already providing the Metropolitan police with support to do just that. Funding for the force will be up to £3.3 billion in 2023, a cash increase of £178 million compared with 2010, and the force has by far the highest funding per capita in England and Wales. As a result of the Government’s police uplift programme, the Metropolitan police has more officers than ever before—over 35,000 as of December. The Home Office is providing funding to the force to deliver innovative projects to tackle drug misuse and county lines. We are working with police and health partners to roll out a national “right care, right person” model, to free up frontline officers to focus on investigating, fighting crime and ensuring that people in mental health crises get the right care from the right agency at the right time.

It is vital that the law-abiding public do not face a threat from the police themselves. Those who are not fit to wear the uniform must be prevented from doing so. Where they are revealed, they must be driven out of the force and face justice. We have taken steps to ensure that forces tackle weaknesses in their vetting systems. I have listened to Sir Mark and his colleagues; the Home Office is reviewing the police dismissals process to ensure that officers who fall short of expected standards can be quickly dismissed. The findings of Baroness Casey’s review will help to inform the work of Lady Angiolini, whose independent inquiry, established by the Government, will look at broader issues of police standards and culture.

I would like to turn to two particularly concerning aspects of Baroness Casey’s report. First, it addresses questions of racism, misogyny and homophobia within the Metropolitan police. Baroness Casey has identified evidence of discriminatory behaviour among officers. I commend those officers who came forward to share their awful experiences with the review team. Discrimination must be tackled in all its forms, and I welcome Sir Mark’s commitment to do so. I will be holding the Metropolitan police and the Mayor of London to account by measuring their progress. I ask Londoners to judge Sir Mark and the Mayor of London not on their words but on their actions to stamp out racist, misogynistic and homophobic behaviour. Action not words has been something that victims of police misconduct and criminal activity have asked for.

Secondly, officers working in the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command perform a vital function in protecting our embassies and keeping us, as Members of Parliament, safe on the parliamentary estate. Baroness Casey’s report is scathing in its analysis of the command’s culture. The whole House will be acutely aware of two recent cases of officers working in that command committing the most abhorrent crimes. I expect the Metropolitan police to ensure that reforms reflect the gravity of her findings, while ensuring that the command’s critical security functions are maintained. The Home Office and the parliamentary security department will work closely with the Metropolitan police to ensure that that happens.

Although I work closely with the Metropolitan police, primary and political accountability sits with the Mayor of London, as Baroness Casey makes clear. I spoke with the Mayor yesterday; we are united in our support for the new commissioner and his plan to turn around the Met so that Londoners get the police service they deserve. We all depend on the police, who overwhelmingly do a very difficult job bravely and well. It is vital that all officers maintain the very highest standards that the public expect of them. Londoners demand nothing less. I have every confidence that Sir Mark Rowley and his team will deliver that for them. I commend this statement to the House.

Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Shadow Secretary of State for the Home Department 12:43, 21 March 2023

The report published today by Louise Casey, commissioned by the Mayor of London, into standards and culture in the Metropolitan police service is thorough, forensic and truly damning. It finds that consent is broken, management of the force has failed and frontline policing,—especially neighbourhood policing—has been deprioritised and degraded after a decade of austerity in which the Met has ended up with £0.7 billion less than at the beginning of the decade. It finds that the Met is failing women and children, and that predatory and unacceptable behaviour has been allowed to flourish. It finds institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia.

Baroness Casey pays tribute to the work that police officers do and the bravery that they show every day, as we all should, because across the country we depend on the work that police officers do to keep us all safe—catching criminals, protecting the vulnerable and saving lives. We support them in that vital work. But that is what makes it all the more important that the highest standards are maintained and the confidence of those the police serve is sustained, otherwise communities and the vital work that police officers do are let down. We support the work the new Met commissioner is doing now to start turning the Met around. He and his team must now go much further in response to the Casey review, but I am concerned that the Home Secretary’s statement is dangerously complacent. Astonishingly, there is no new action set out in her response, simply words saying that the Met must change. This is a continuation of the hands-off Home Office response that Baroness Casey criticises in her report. Some of the issues raised are particular to the Met because of its size, history and particular culture, where the Home Secretary and Mayor are jointly responsible for oversight and where the commissioner is responsible for delivering, but the report also raises serious wider issues for the Home Office.

The failure to root out officers who have been involved in domestic abuse or sexual assault also applies in other forces. The failure to tackle culture has gone wrong in other forces too, with problems in Gwent, Hampshire, Police Scotland, Sussex, Leicestershire and more. It is a disgrace that there are still not mandatory requirements on vetting and training, underpinned by law, and that misconduct systems are still too weak. I urge the Home Secretary to commit now that anyone under investigation for domestic abuse or sexual assault will be automatically suspended from their role as a police officer, and that anyone with any kind of history of domestic abuse or sexual assault will not be given any chance to become a police officer. We need an urgent overhaul, underpinned by law. Will she give us that commitment today?

The Home Office approach more widely to standards is also failing. Six police forces are in so-called special measures, but it is still too easy for forces to ignore the recommendations from the inspectorate and the intervention processes are too weak. Where is the Home Secretary’s plan to turn that around?

The report is damning about the decimation of frontline policing, but neighbourhood policing has been decimated everywhere, not just in the Met. There are 6,000 fewer police officers in neighbourhood teams and 8,000 fewer police community support officers than just in 2016, and it is worse than that because officers are routinely abstracted for other duties. So where is the plan to restore neighbourhood policing? Labour has set out a plan. We would work with the Government on this, but where is the Government’s plan?

The report is devastating on the lack of proper public protection arrangements for women and children who have been let down, but again we know that across the country prosecutions for rape and domestic abuse have plummeted and serious cases have too often been dismissed. Again, where is the national action plan to improve public protection? Where is the commitment to specialist rape investigation units in every force and specialist domestic abuse experts in 999 control rooms? It is not happening.

The findings on institutional misogyny, racism and homophobia are based on evidence and clear criteria that Baroness Casey has set out for measuring change with recommendations. The Home Secretary rightly says she wants discrimination tackled in all its forms, but she has been telling police forces the opposite in telling them not to focus on those issues. Where is her plan now to turn that around? Where is the Home Office plan in response to this, on standards, on neighbourhood policing, on violence against women and girls, and on systemic or institutional discrimination? Where are those plans?

The British policing model is precious. The Peel principles, which started in London— policing by consent—said

“that the police are the public and that the public are the police”.

They are our guardians, not our guards, but that precious policing model is in peril. The Home Office and the Home Secretary are the custodians of that tradition, but the lack of any plan to restore trust, to stand up for policing or to turn things around is letting everyone down. It is not standing up for the police; it is letting both the police and communities down. It is because we believe in policing and because we believe in those Peel principles that we know standing up for the police also means working with the police to deliver change and to restore the trust, confidence and effective policing that all police officers and communities properly deserve.

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I must say that I am disappointed by the right hon. Lady’s tone. Today is not a day for crass political point scoring; it is a day for serious and sober consideration of the Met’s shortcomings and how those shortcomings have a devastating impact on people’s lives. The victims have asked for actions, not words, and I, along with the Mayor of London, have every confidence that Sir Mark Rowley and his team will deliver their plan to turn around the Met. Accepting Baroness Casey’s findings is not incompatible with supporting the institution of policing and the vast majority of brave men and women who uphold the highest professional standards. I back the police; I trust them to put their safety before ours.

On the topic of national standards, I am working with chief constables on a programme to drive up standards and improve culture across police forces at a national level. On the topic of institutional racism, I agree with Sir Mark Rowley. It is not a helpful term to use; it is an ambiguous, contested and politically charged term that is much misused and risks making it harder for officers to win back the trust of communities. Sir Mark is committed to rooting out discrimination, in all forms, from the Met. I believe that it is how the Met police respond to the issues that is important, not whether they accept a label.

Trust in the police is fundamental, and I will work to support Sir Mark Rowley in his work to change culture and provide the leadership that the Met needs, but I would point out to the shadow Home Secretary that her crass political attacks really would be more accurately directed at the person with actual and political responsibility for overseeing the performance of the Met: that is the Mayor of London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan. The Labour Mayor has been in charge of the Met for the past seven years. Baroness Casey is unflinching and unequivocal about the dysfunctional relationship between the Mayor’s office and the Met, and her recommendation that the Mayor takes a more hands-on approach. It was frankly shocking to learn that the Labour Mayor does not already chair a quarterly board meeting to exercise accountability over the Met. I trust the shadow Home Secretary will agree that the Mayor accepts Baroness Casey’s recommendation that he do so.

Londoners have been let down by the Met. The shadow Home Secretary knows who is ultimately responsible for that. She should not be looking to score political points today: it is a disappointment, and frankly she should know better.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Father of the House of Commons

Everyone in the House will back up what the Home Secretary, Baroness Casey and the shadow Home Secretary have said about our reliance on the police and our support for them, but there are times when we have to look at how often the police, the police authority, the Mayor and the Home Secretary have not put things right.

I will give as an example the high-profile case of the Sikh police officer Gurpal Virdi, who 25 years ago was in effect accused of doing something he had not done. We had the Muir report at the end of 2001, which showed what the police ought to do to do things right. We had the report by Sir William Morris, as he then was, in 2004. Before that we had had the Stephen Lawrence inquiry by Sir William Macpherson, advised by the former police officer Tom Cook, by the human rights expert Dr Richard Stone and by John Sentamu, who later became the Archbishop of York. What they recommended has not happened.

Now we have the Casey report. I say to the commissioner of the Met police, to the Mayor and to my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary: have a review into what happened in the Gurpal Virdi case, including his prosecution eight years ago for a non-offence, where the only evidence exonerated him. Until that is done, people will not have confidence in people putting things right. It may be one case, and many other examples will be given in the next few minutes, but Sergeant Gurpal Virdi has been the victim of more injustice from the police, over decades, than I have ever seen in my life.

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the devastating stories of misconduct, inappropriate behaviour, discrimination and poor standards. No one is denying that. Baroness Casey’s review is unequivocal about the failings, cultural and more widespread, within the Met. It is right now that we need to see real change. The Met commissioner has put in place a plan. He is already working and making progress on increasing standards, improving behaviour and ridding the force of those who do not deserve to wear the badge. We should all get behind him in that objective.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Chair, Home Affairs Committee, Chair, Home Affairs Committee

The findings of institutional racism in the Met made 24 years ago, the findings of institutional corruption in the case of Daniel Morgan more recently, the homophobia in the botched Stephen Port investigation, the misogyny, homophobia and racism in the Charing Cross inquiry, the criminal misconduct of police officers in the murders of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, the strip-searching of Child Q, the numerous Independent Office for Police Conduct investigations and damning HMICFRS reports, the abduction, rape and murder by a serving police officer and the case of the serial sex offender David Carrick were all not enough to provoke real change, so can the Home Secretary say what is now different about this report? Is she confident that the Met can change?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

It is clear just from the examples to which the right hon. Lady refers and from this report that all the behaviour, including instances of racism, homophobia and misogyny, is completely unacceptable and that standards must improve. Sir Mark has been clear that he is not shying away from the enormity of the challenge. He has a plan in place to ensure that standards are increased, that more rigour is instilled in the Met and that there is a better and more robust response when standards fall short. It is absolutely vital that they rebuild trust and improve standards so that all Londoners have confidence in the Met.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham

This is a shocking report, and it is particularly galling for the majority of decent officers who do an outstanding job day in, day out. Whether or not we think the Met is institutionally racist, misogynist or homophobic, it is certainly institutionally incapable of bringing in strong and consistent leadership, although I exclude the new commissioner from that, or of recruiting enough people of sufficient calibre to make good officers. Does the Home Secretary share my concerns that the police’s solutions are still too much about bringing in more police to mark the homework of other police? Has she given thought to bringing in leading people from other disciplines such as the Army or business to provide proper, independent executive scrutiny and promote new ways of working?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that standards need to improve and that doing more of the same is not acceptable. Ultimately, independent scrutiny is provided for by the Mayor of London’s office; those are independent, publicly accountable individuals who bring that outside scrutiny. Baroness Casey’s report is clear that that has not been good enough to date. That is why we all need to get behind the Met to ensure that standards improve.

Photo of Dawn Butler Dawn Butler Labour, Brent Central

I am struggling to establish the point of the Home Secretary when it comes to the Met. With this hands-off approach, it is as though nothing is the her responsibility. When the Mayor of London got rid of the last commissioner, the Home Secretary continually attacked the Mayor of London’s correct decision. We have heard about all the other reports, including the 1981 Scarman report on the Brixton riots, the 1999 Stephen Lawrence report, the 2021 IOPC report on Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, and the 2021 report on Daniel Morgan, which found that the police were institutionally corrupt. The IOPC report on the Stephen Port murders found that the police were homophobic, and some of them are still working in Barking. Operation Hotton made 15 recommendations; those recommendations have still not been implemented in the Met. Why is the Home Secretary not taking any responsibility in her role in the Met? If she does not want the responsibility, for goodness’ sake, will she just stand down?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am afraid that the hon. Lady needs to direct some of her criticism towards the person who is directly responsible for the performance of the Met: that is, unfortunately, her Labour colleague the Mayor of London. He has been on the receiving end of particular criticism in the report, although I am glad to hear that he is forward-leaning in accepting the recommendations and turning around the way in which he is holding the Met to account. When it comes to changing the law or introducing any frameworks that are necessary, we in the Home Office will do that—we are already consulting on the dismissals process, and we have instituted a regime of better vetting with the College of Policing—but I am afraid that, ultimately, the hon. Lady’s ire should be focused on her colleague in London.

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel Conservative, Witham

The sad reality is that, as Opposition Members have just highlighted, over the past 18 months we have seen report after report, and it is now incumbent on us, if we are to secure the whole notion of policing by consent and to elevate public trust and confidence in policing, to see action going forward. The Casey review identifies a range of directions that are required across the board. May I suggest to the Home Secretary, and indeed the Mayor of London, that we should start to see a performance plan for the Metropolitan police to ensure that individuals are held to account? We have strong leaders in the new commissioner and his deputy, and we need to back them, but given the amount of money that goes into the Metropolitan police, I think that that money should bring about the outcomes, such as performance changes, that the British public, and the people of London in particular, desperately want to see.

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I pay tribute to her leadership in respect of positive change and improving police standards when she was in this role. I do back Sir Mark and his team: he is the right person to lead the organisation towards reform and improvement. He has set out a turnaround plan and is making progress in realising its objectives, and it is vital that we support him in that.

Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Shadow Solicitor General

Like many London MPs, I deal with constituency cases—from modern slavery to stalking—in which ethnicity, gender or sexuality is a factor, but the victims complain that those factors are not taken seriously by police investigators. What can I tell them that the Home Secretary will do, following this damning report, to give them dignity, respect and, above all, justice?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Discriminatory attitudes and homophobic, racist or misogynistic behaviour have no place in policing. All the case studies and references in the report make for shocking reading. The ability of the police to fulfil their duties is essential, but what we have seen is a real impediment preventing chief constables from dismissing and getting rid of officers who are not fit to wear the badge, for a host of reasons. We in the Home Office are currently consulting on the dismissals process, and if necessary I will change the law to empower chief constables to better control the quality of the officers in their ranks.

Photo of Kit Malthouse Kit Malthouse The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

For anyone who, like me, has worked with the Metropolitan police over many years, this is a dark if not catastrophic day. While our thoughts are primarily with the many victims who have been let down and failed by the force, obviously we all reserve a huge amount of disappointment for the officers who do a startlingly good job every single day. Many of us who have visited the Met will have seen their work over the years.

I hope the Home Secretary will agree that key to turning the force around is ensuring that this becomes a joint enterprise between City Hall and the Home Office. There has clearly been a failure of local accountability—and I speak as someone who has urged the Mayor, both in public and in private, to lean into the governance of the Metropolitan police during his time in office. On that note, would it be possible for the Policing Minister to sit on the new board that Baroness Casey wants to be convened to supervise changes within the Met, and will the Home Secretary discuss that with the Mayor?

I hope that the Home Secretary will also agree that key to turning around policing in general is the professionalisation of the workforce. She recently decided to cancel the policing education qualifications framework route into policing, although it held out the promise of the kind of continuing professional development that many people believe police officers need during their careers to keep them on the straight and narrow, in terms of values and operational practice. Will she reconsider her decision to cancel that project?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My right hon. Friend makes an important point about the quality of accountability. The report identified a dysfunctional relationship between the force and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, and the Mayor needs to ensure it is reset as a matter of urgency. That local accountability is absolutely critical if we are to see meaningful improvement. My right hon. Friend also referred to leadership training within the ranks, which is something I am very interested in. We are making progress with the College of Policing, in particular, towards rolling out better leadership training in order to create a good cohort of leaders in policing for the future.

Photo of Marsha de Cordova Marsha de Cordova Labour, Battersea

Nearly 25 years after the Macpherson report, it is damning that the Casey review has found that the Met remains institutionally racist, and is now misogynistic and homophobic as well. Its actions can seriously undermine policing by consent, and without wholesale reform it will be impossible to rebuild trust and confidence in our communities in London. My constituents in Battersea deserve a force they can trust, so will the Home Secretary end the postcode lottery that exists in place of standards by implementing national standards in relation to vetting, misconduct and training?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

We are already working with the College of Policing to ensure that there is a statutory code setting out the standards for vetting and recruitment. However, as Baroness Casey makes clear, it is vital that the law-abiding public never face a threat from the police themselves. Those who are not fit to wear the badge should be rooted out, but they should never enter the force in the first place.

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes Chair, Women and Equalities Committee, Chair, Women and Equalities Committee

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that every police officer has to be part of the solution, but when a female officer comments to Baroness Casey that she would have been better off suffering in silence, that does not engender confidence in women across the capital—including, importantly, women serving in the Metropolitan Police Service—that they will be empowered to speak out. What specific measures can my right hon. Friend reassure us will be put in place to ensure that those good officers, who we know make up the bulk of the Metropolitan Police Service, are supported when they speak out, and do not see their own careers suffer?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The turnaround plan deals specifically with how to institute a better framework so that people who are on the receiving end of unacceptable behaviour can report incidents in the knowledge that they will not be penalised for doing so, and ensuring that those who are perpetrators of, or responsible for, unacceptable behaviour receive meaningful sanction and are no longer permitted to wear the badge.

Photo of Munira Wilson Munira Wilson Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Education)

While there are many dedicated and decent police officers who serve our capital with integrity and professionalism, Londoners’ confidence in the Met police will be utterly shattered by the horrors and systemic failures revealed in Baroness Casey’s report—and I dare say that the party political point scoring we are hearing from the Dispatch Box will not help. Does the Home Secretary really think that next time I visit a school or college in my constituency, I shall be able to look a young woman or person of colour in the eye and tell them to pick up the phone to the police when they are in danger, or indeed consider a career in the Met?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The report is scathing in tracking and describing incidents of misogyny and the way in which confidence has been broken among women and girls, and it is therefore vital that we work with the Met police to restore that confidence. The Soteria programme, to which Baroness Casey expressly refers, must be rolled out and implemented meaningfully when it comes to the investigation and prosecution of rape and serious sexual offences. We are already seeing some improvement in police referrals of rape complaints to the Crown Prosecution Service, but it is clear that, although we are on the right track, more must be done.

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

The immediate political acceptance of Baroness Casey’s report demonstrates that nothing has changed since the publication of the Macpherson report 24 years ago. Many think that the report in itself is a panacea to change. Does the Home Secretary not agree that it would be more effective to abolish the Metropolitan Police Service, transfer the specialist operations to the remit of the Home Office and establish a police service for London to focus solely on the maintenance of law and order?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I do not agree that we must abolish the Metropolitan Police Service. I think we need to institute a wide-ranging programme of profound reform, and that is why I think that Sir Mark is absolutely right in his turnaround plan, which deals specifically with the systemic problems—problems that, unfortunately, are not new but of which we are all aware—that need root-and-branch reform. That is why he is in the right position to effect that change.

Photo of Seema Malhotra Seema Malhotra Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I want to put on record my thanks to Baroness Casey for her report, but it has reached the damning verdict that London’s women and children have been left even further behind. The report states:

“The de-prioritisation and de-specialisation of public protection has put women and children at greater risk than necessary. Despite some outstanding, experienced senior officers, an overworked, inexperienced workforce polices child protection, rape and serious sexual offences.”

Her report recommends specialist units to deal with violence against women and girls, and it is clear that this must happen across the country. Will the Home Secretary today back Labour’s plans to introduce 999 specialist call handlers for domestic abuse and specialist rape units in every police force, or bring forward her own urgent plans to do so?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I take violence against women and girls extremely seriously. That is why I added VAWG to the strategic policing requirement, meaning that it is set out as a national threat for forces to deal with specifically. We are funding the first full-time national policing lead for VAWG, DCC Maggie Blyth, who is driving improvements in the police responses. We are also providing up to £3.3 million for domestic abuse matters and consulting on increasing the powers that police have in responding to this heinous crime. There are many measures and initiatives that we have brought in over the years, and I am proud of this Government’s track record on supporting women and girls.

Photo of Nickie Aiken Nickie Aiken Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster

Baroness Casey’s review makes for grim reading, and I pay tribute to her hard work and forensic gathering of evidence. We must remember that that evidence is available thanks to the many police officers who were brave enough to speak to Baroness Casey for her review. Next month marks the 30th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, and we have seen from Baroness Casey’s review that things have not progressed, even though we have had inquiry after inquiry. Does my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary agree that the time has now ended and we must ensure that the Metropolitan Police Service cleans itself up, and that the Mayor of London has a major part to play in ensuring that police officers are held to account?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend is right to say that discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, whether racism, misogyny or homophobia, have no place in policing. I was appalled to read the shocking stories in the report. We need to ensure that the police act with the highest levels of honesty and integrity. We have to ensure that standards are improved, that we strengthen vetting, and that there is better police training and a more diverse leadership pipeline. All those measures, supported by the Mayor of London, will bring about real change.

Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington

I associate myself with the words of the Father of the House about Gurpal Virdi. The relationship between the Metropolitan police and the Asian community, particularly in west London, was damaged by that case and also by the failure of the Met to properly investigate the death of my constituent Ricky Reel 25 years ago. It was subsequently discovered, when Ricky’s family were appealing for more police resources, that police resources were being applied to surveilling the family and the campaign itself.

The new commissioner has launched a new inquiry with a new inquiry team, but we need the assistance of the Home Secretary in releasing the confidential report that was undertaken by the Police Complaints Authority in the late 1990s exposing the failures of the original investigation, as well as the family liaison officer logs that were kept during that period, so that we can again look at what happened to Ricky subsequent to the racial attack that he suffered. The ownership of those documents is with the Home Secretary, not with the Met commissioner. I wrote to the Home Secretary in February about this. Please can I have a positive reply as soon as possible, to reassure the family?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

It is clear that the Met needs to command the confidence of all communities, including those from black and ethnic groups, in London. That is why Sir Mark’s turnaround plan specifically covers better engagement with communities; it is vital that trust is rebuilt within those communities. There are lots of measures in train and I know that the Met commissioner takes very seriously the relationship and the trust among communities. I will look into the specific issue to which the right hon. Gentleman refers.

Photo of Louie French Louie French Conservative, Old Bexley and Sidcup

Today’s findings are very concerning and I know that my right hon. and learned Friend will do what she can to hold the Met and the Labour Mayor—the police and crime commissioner for London—to account after seven years of failure. What assurances can she provide that the thousands of decent and hard-working police officers can continue to focus on fighting crime, which I believe is the best way to restore public trust? Will she please urge the Met to reverse Sadiq Khan’s tri-borough policing policy, which continues to negatively impact policing in Bexley and starve it of resources?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Thanks to this Government, the Met now has a record number of police officers—the highest it has ever known in its history. That increase in meaningful resource on the frontline will make a difference to how it effectively polices and safeguards Londoners. We have also seen a cash increase in Met funding since 2010, and that is being put into increased resources. It is vital that we now work with Sir Mark and his team to ensure that there is a proper turnaround.

Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

It is clear that some basic policies and procedures have gone seriously wrong. When an individual is raped, the advice is to keep the specimens in a refrigerator, so how can it be that during a hot spell last summer the refrigerator broke down and there was no back-up plan? How can that be? What is the Home Secretary going to do for every victim whose evidence was in that refrigerator? What is the plan? Is it to go back to those victims, apologise and explain what happens next?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The particular incident to which the hon. Lady refers is shocking and unacceptable. It must not happen again. It is absolutely clear that that is true.

Progress has been made. I have emphasised the importance that I attach to VAWG and the investigation and prosecution of rape. It is clear that police forces all around the country need to do better. We are seeing progress on the timeliness of investigations and the number of cases referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for charge; there is an increase in the number of independent sexual violence advisers and independent domestic violence advisers, who significantly increase the chances of a successful prosecution; and we have introduced special measures so that victims of rape and serious sexual offences can give evidence in a better way. There are many measures, but I am clear that I am not going to rest until we really succeed on this problem.

Photo of Lee Anderson Lee Anderson Deputy Chair, Conservative Party

I met the Met police a few weeks back with the Home Affairs Committee, and I was astounded to learn that officers who have been there for over 20 years are now investigating a culture that is well over 20 years old. Does my right hon. and learned Friend think it would be a good idea for more independent people to come into the Met force to investigate?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

As Baroness Casey accepted, the vast majority of police officers uphold the highest professional standards, and I pay tribute to them for their everyday bravery in keeping Londoners safe. We must make sure that the Met continues to attract the best and brightest people from all walks of life so that they can bring diversity, expertise, experience and skills to ensure that it is the best force that we can have.

Photo of Bell Ribeiro-Addy Bell Ribeiro-Addy Labour, Streatham

I represent a constituency in Lambeth, where trust in policing is at the lowest level of anywhere in London. Instead of addressing the abuses of existing police powers, the Government seem to be creating new unaccountable powers. My constituency has sadly seen the death of two young people at the hands of police officers in the past two years alone, with the tragic murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021 and the fatal shooting of Chris Kaba in September 2022. This report is not the first to highlight institutional racism, sexism and homophobia, which the Home Secretary seems unwilling to accept.

We have to undergo a security check, including police checks, to work in this House. How hard is it to ensure that every single officer is run through a similar check? Will the Home Secretary commit today to doing that? I asked the new commissioner who is responsible for suspending officers for misconduct, and he said that, under the law, it is the Home Secretary’s responsibility. In November 2022, a response from the Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire said it was the commissioner’s responsibility. The Home Secretary has said today that there are impediments and that she could potentially change the law to make sure that this happens. Can she please explain who is in charge and exactly what is going on?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I have taken action by consulting on the disciplinary process. Vetting standards are set by the College of Policing, via its statutory code of practice and its authorised professional practice guidance on vetting, to ensure that standards are improved. I asked the inspectorate to conduct a rapid review of all forces and their responses to the report’s findings. The Policing Minister has led a lot of work with the College of Policing to strengthen its statutory code of practice for police vetting, making the obligations that all forces must legally follow stricter and clearer. We are doing work in the Home Office, but I am afraid that, ultimately, political accountability lies with the Mayor of London.

Photo of Mark Pritchard Mark Pritchard Conservative, The Wrekin

I note the Home Secretary’s support for the commissioner, but could it be the case that the future of the Met hangs on one word: “ambiguous”? Not “institutional” but “ambiguous”. Is there anything ambiguous in either the findings, the recommendations or the terminology that the Home Secretary has seen in the Casey report?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Baroness Casey is clear that the vast majority of serving police officers in the Met uphold the highest professional and cultural standards. This report is not about them but about the unambiguous systemic failings of culture, management and accountability. I am very keen for us all to learn from this diagnosis, from which reform must grow.

Photo of Meg Hillier Meg Hillier Chair, Public Accounts Committee, Chair, Public Accounts Committee

The Home Secretary is primarily responsible for the funding, which has seesawed, the vetting, which she just touched on, and, critically, the structure of the Metropolitan police. On the latter point, she has talked about the need for reform. Can she tell the House whether she has had any discussions about, or whether she is even considering, breaking up the Metropolitan police to take out counter-terrorism and leave a London police force for Londoners?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Even Baroness Casey does not recommend breaking up the Metropolitan police, so I do not support that proposal. The hon. Lady mentions funding, so let me be clear that cash funding for the Met has increased since 2010. The Met gets 57% more funding per capita than the rest of England and Wales, and 24% more than the next highest-funded force, Merseyside, which has a higher level of crime. On all accounts, there is funding for the Met and there should be no reason for a failure to improve.

Photo of Simon Fell Simon Fell Conservative, Barrow and Furness

Baroness Casey’s review makes stark reading: “too little humility”, “denial”, a culture of covering up problems and a lack of emphasis on the issues that matter most to those the Met is meant to serve. That is compounded by, in the report’s words,

“institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia”.

When the Home Affairs Committee has been to meet Sir Mark and his team over recent months, it has been clear that they are working hard to turn around this culture and to root out the officers at the heart of doing so much harm to the public’s view of the force, but the public can wait only so long for this turnaround to happen. Can my right hon. and learned Friend confirm by what time and what metrics she will be looking to see whether the right reforms are taking root?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The new Met commissioner has been in place for only six months. From the moment he was appointed, he has been clear and unequivocal about the size of the challenge he faces and what it will take to turn it around, which is why he set out in detail his plan to restore trust and raise standards. He now needs all our support to ensure he can achieve that plan as quickly as possible.

Photo of Ruth Cadbury Ruth Cadbury Shadow Minister (International Trade)

My hon. Friend Dame Meg Hillier specifically asked the Home Secretary about the seesawing, as well as the inadequacy, of funding. The report has a chapter on the inexperience of new officers. Does the Home Secretary now regret her Government’s decision to cut 20,000 officers?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

As I said earlier, the Met police has done well on recruitment and now has a record number of police officers—higher than at any time under a Labour Administration. The force has a record number of police officers, thanks to this Government’s police uplift programme and our resource to increase and improve frontline policing.

Photo of Jackie Doyle-Price Jackie Doyle-Price Conservative, Thurrock

I am sure the whole House wants to celebrate the contribution of and thank all the women police officers who, we now learn, have had to deal with daily abuse and sexism from their male colleagues as they try to keep us safe. It is simply unacceptable that such behaviour is normalised in a service that is supposed to keep us safe.

If my right hon. and learned Friend is serious about tackling violence against women and girls, it simply is not adequate to come to this Dispatch Box and say it will take many years to fix the problems in the Met. I ask her to reflect on that and to see what more can be done within the Home Office to spread good cultural practice throughout our police services, because these issues are not restricted to the Met.

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I agree with my hon. Friend that we need to make progress on improving protection and results for victims of rape and serious sexual offences, which is why we have instituted a programme of reform on the investigation and prosecution of rape. I recently announced the biggest ever package of measures on domestic abuse, in terms of the powers and the funding available for victims. This is a priority, which is why I added violence against women and girls to the strategic policing requirement, meaning it is now set out as a national threat, sending the message to chief constables and forces across the country that this can no longer be dismissed.

Photo of Florence Eshalomi Florence Eshalomi Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

We have to pause for a minute and really think about the fact that our national police service has been declared institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic. I think about all the victims in my Vauxhall constituency who continue to be let down. We have to make this a real turning point.

I have raised with the Home Secretary and the Policing Minister the fact that, over the years, the Met has let down a number of young, vulnerable girls who are being exploited by gang members. Because of the adultification of young black girls, they, and not the gang members, are viewed as the criminals. We are talking about girls as young as 12 years old being forced into sexual exploitation, servitude and abuse. Instead of dealing with their trauma, the police criminalise these young girls. Does the Home Secretary agree that this should be a matter of shame for the Met police? Will she work with me to look at how we can end this exploitation?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The exploitation of women and girls is unacceptable, whether by gangs or by individual perpetrators, or whether it is structural misogyny, as we have read in Baroness Casey’s report. Policing leaders need to do all they can to restore confidence among communities and among women and girls. We need to ensure that policing standards are increased, vetting is improved and training is reformed, and that there is a more diverse leadership pipeline. We need more women to come forward to take leadership roles within the police so that we see change.

Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Conservative, Newbury

Baroness Casey said that the Sarah Everard case should have been responded to with the seriousness with which

“a plane falling out of the sky” would be responded to in the aviation sector. Yet some of those now responsible for implementing the fundamental reforms, particularly to vetting and disciplinary procedures, have worked for the Met police for years or even decades, as in the case of the commissioner. Is my right hon. and learned Friend confident that those already imbued with the structures and cultures of the Metropolitan police have the leadership skills to deliver the fundamental change that is now required?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend is right to say that we need to see change. Sir Mark Rowley has been in post for six months and he is clear that we need to see change. We have commissioned several independent reports. Baroness Casey’s is one, but we also have the one from Lady Angiolini—she is due to report on standards and culture. These independent voices will be vital in effecting change, but it is also clear that the independent scrutiny brought about by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and the Mayor of London will be critical in bringing about change.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Independent, Islington North

Baroness Casey’s report makes it very clear that what campaigners have been saying for years is absolutely true: black Londoners are disproportionately likely to be stopped and searched by the Metropolitan police. It also calls for fundamental change in that whole policy. Will the Home Secretary explain how the Public Order Bill, which gives the police increased powers of stop and search during protests or demonstrations, fits with the recommendations made by Baroness Casey? Will she also suspend the operation of that section of the Public Order Bill until such time as the police have been able to reform their ways on the disproportionate stopping and searching of black Londoners?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

As Baroness Casey makes clear, the majority of Londoners support the appropriate use of stop and search. As Sir Mark has made clear, stop and search is a vital tool in keeping Londoners safe and saving lives; 350 to 400 knives are seized per month thanks to stop and search. That is why I emphatically support the appropriate use of stop and search as a way to keep everyone safe.

Photo of Mary Robinson Mary Robinson Conservative, Cheadle

Baroness Casey’s report makes harrowing reading. We see a police force riddled with misogyny, racism and homophobia; and a place where complainants or whistleblowers, rather than being listened to, are turned on and mistreated, leading to a systemic fear of speaking up. During the UK’s first Whistleblowing Awareness Week, this report shines a light on the failure of organisations where there is a culture of fear and cover-up. Shockingly, the report makes the following clear:

“The culture of not speaking up has become so ingrained that even when senior officers actively seek candid views, there is a reluctance to speak up.”

Clearly, the Government, the Mayor and the Met leadership must act on all of the report’s recommendations. However, may I add another one of my own, by encouraging my right hon. and learned Friend to consider how whistleblowing reform and an office of the whistleblower could play a key part in eradicating toxic cultures across all organisations?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the need for reform of misconduct procedures. There are measures to ensure that there is transparency and rigour in the system, including the Independent Office for Police Conduct. The Government have also introduced other measures, including routinely holding misconduct hearings in public and having independent legally qualified chairs to lead misconduct hearings. But there is a vital need to ensure that provision on dismissals and the process of rooting out inappropriate officers is improved, which is why I have launched a consultation to look at just that.

Photo of Clive Efford Clive Efford Labour, Eltham

One of the first things I did as a newly elected MP in 1997 was call for an independent inquiry into the investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. That became the Macpherson report of 1999, and it is a sad indictment that we are back here again with the Metropolitan police being called institutionally racist. People such as Carrick and Couzens are the tip of the iceberg. In order for them to get away with what they got away with, hundreds of other officers have had to turn a blind eye. That is an indictment of the culture that exists within the Metropolitan police and other police forces, and those who want to do the right thing are held back because there is not a disciplinary process to deal with the people who do bad things. So what is the Home Secretary going to do, not just with the Met—do not blame the Mayor—but about our national police force to ensure that a proper disciplinary process is in place that allows the good people to do their jobs properly?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

What I am already doing is running a review of the dismissals process. On the issues that the hon. Gentleman raises, this is why the Met commissioner’s establishment of a new anti-corruption and abuse command, with a wider and more proactive remit, is absolutely essential. That will raise internal standards and internal accountability, and it will facilitate and empower people to come forward, challenge and report bad behaviour.

Photo of Janet Daby Janet Daby Labour, Lewisham East

The Casey review is truly damning; there is institutional racism, institutional misogyny and institutional homophobia in the Met. On child protection, the review recommends creating a new children’s strategy. Does the Home Secretary support that? If so, what is the top issue on child protection and safeguarding that she wants this strategy to address?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I was disturbed by Baroness Casey’s findings on the issues relating to the work on public protection and safeguarding. That is why that has been expressly dealt with in the turnaround plan set out by the Met commissioner; there are key interventions to invest in the safeguarding teams and achieve national best practice standards. The police want to ensure that there is better data and technology to target perpetrators and protect victims. We want to ensure that there are positive criminal justice outcomes for public protection cases and that safeguarding and the people who work in it are properly supported.

Photo of Sam Tarry Sam Tarry Labour, Ilford South

I represent the most diverse constituency in the whole of the UK. Over the past three years, we have faced stabbings and homicides far too frequently. Recently, we have had the awful and avoidable tragedy of the murder of Zara Aleena. Those in my local community want to be able to trust the thin blue line to look after and protect them. Unfortunately, as is set out in the Casey report and in the conversations I have day to day in Ilford, it is clear that people do believe that the Met police is institutionally racist and institutionally misogynistic. I want to be able to go back to them today having heard from the Home Secretary about what she is going to do. I do not want her to pass the buck; I want her to make sure that my constituents can trust the police; that they will not be raped or murdered by people who are police officers; that they can call 999 and know that help will be on the way; and that they will be protected in the way that they should be.

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Baroness Casey is clear that the failings in relationships with communities are serious. That is why it is paramount that public trust in the Met is restored. I am going to continue to hold the Met commissioner to account, as well as the Mayor of London, because he has an important role to play here. But it is clear that we need to ensure that the Met has the resources it needs, which is why I am pleased that it now has the record number of police officers in its history on the frontline, working to keep Londoners safe. It has also made significant progress already in achieving some of the stated goals in its turnaround plan.

Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Labour/Co-operative, Walthamstow

Recognising that the Met has been decreed to be institutionally misogynistic, homophobic and racist is not just about a label; it is about the lived experience of the communities that many of us have served and worked in for generations, and the message we had been trying to get across to the Home Secretary and her predecessors, as well as the Met leadership, for many years. All of us have a role to play in restoring confidence for our communities, but the Home Secretary will know that as of today there are still more than 100 serving officers in the Met being investigated for sexual misconduct and domestic violence. She could do something about that today. Let us be clear: if she wants to bring forward emergency legislation to deal with the issues stopping those officers being dismissed, she will have our support. Will she do it?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am very proud that a Conservative Government brought in landmark legislation—the Domestic Abuse Act 2021—that, for the first time, increased the powers relating to and the status and seriousness of domestic abuse. We have announced our intention to bring in legislation at the earliest opportunity to ensure that offenders convicted of coercive and controlling behaviour are automatically managed in the same way as violent offenders. We have also run an important measure and are consulting on a lot of investment to support victims of domestic abuse, and I am very proud of this Government’s track record on empowering the police to better support victims of domestic abuse.

Photo of Karen Buck Karen Buck Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

Neither the long-standing concerns about police culture identified in the Casey report nor the individual instances of racism, misogyny and homophobia in the police can be laid at the door of the cuts to the police budget over the early part of the last decade and the see-saw funding since then; that would allow those responsible to escape that responsibility. However, does the Home Secretary accept that the collapse of neighbourhood policing, not just in London but across the country, has fundamentally changed the relationship between the public and the police? Will she ensure that the police across Britain—not just in London—rebuild their neighbourhood policing? How will she hold police forces to account in restoring that vital function?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am very glad that the Met has an increased, record number of police officers. Many of them will be deployed on the frontline to neighbourhood policing teams, so we will have an increase in response. The turnaround plan specifically addresses how the Met will improve its neighbourhood policing response through better powers and quicker responses from the response team, ensuring that antisocial behaviour is dealt with. That is a priority for both the Met and myself.

Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Shadow Minister (Education)

For many of my constituents, reading Baroness Casey’s report will be the first time that their experiences of policing have been validated and vindicated. The same cannot be said for the Home Secretary’s response. It is hard to overstate the frustration and betrayal that so many Londoners have felt when they have raised concerns with the police and have been met with a stone wall of defensiveness, excuses and denial. Among many, many issues that Baroness Casey highlights are serious problems with transparency and accountability. My experience in raising complaints about two very serious matters of police conduct is that there is no accountability because the IOPC will refer complaints back to the Met to be investigated, and internal investigations simply cannot deliver. What will the Home Secretary do to resolve the situation in which the police mark their own homework and there is no accountability or change?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

As Baroness Casey’s report made clear, primary accountability sits with the Mayor of London. It is for the Mayor, rather than the inspectorate or any other body, to hold the commissioner directly to account for taking the rigorous action needed to address concerns. It was frankly shocking to read that the Mayor has not chaired a board for several years. I am very glad that he has now agreed to start discharging his role appropriately, but it is clear that governance and accountability need to improve. That is why that constituted a significant element of the report.

Photo of Fleur Anderson Fleur Anderson Shadow Paymaster General

Putney constituents will find the report shocking but not surprising in many ways. Cuts have consequences. A major culture change is essential, but the Casey report lays out that the cuts resulted in the culture problem increasing. The Home Secretary said that funding for the force will be up to £3.3 billion, but in 2011, the funding was £3.7 billion, so there is a real-terms cash cut. Along the way, there has been £1 billion of cuts, and the funding for the Met is now 18% lower in real terms than it was in 2011, which is equivalent to 9,600 police officers. We see in the report that police officers have been taken away from our streets, that the number of senior police officers has been cut, which reduces accountability, and that there were cuts to rape investigation units. Does the Home Secretary accept her part in that and in the report’s findings about national cuts? Will she fund the reforms that are needed to win back trust?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

In 2023-24, the Met police will receive up to £3.34 billion in funding. That is an increase of up to £97.6 million on the previous year and £177.8 million compared with 2010. The average funding per head of population for the Metropolitan police is higher than for any other force. In terms of funding, resources and police numbers, which I mentioned, there is no reason why the Met cannot succeed in turning this around.

Photo of Carol Monaghan Carol Monaghan Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Education), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Science, Innovation and Technology)

The Casey review shines a damning light on racism, misogyny and homophobia in the Met police, but that is not isolated. There are other organisations where such behaviour goes unpunished. Sarah Atherton published her report on the experiences of women in the armed forces, which was similarly damning. What discussions has the Home Secretary had with Cabinet colleagues about shining further light on major organisations—such as the armed forces—in which the public should have absolute trust?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I only have responsibility for the police. That is why earlier this year, I asked for all forces to go through their data, wash it and check for cases where police officers should not be serving on the frontline or, indeed, in the force at all. Forces are coming forward with that information and that will be a good thing to ensure that the police force nationally rids itself of those who are unfit to wear the badge.

Photo of Liz Kendall Liz Kendall Shadow Minister (Health and Social Care)

I thank Louise Casey for her report and service to the country. Like her, I am fundamentally pro-policing and appalled at the findings. To give an example, sexual offences units kept rape kits in broken fridges next to lunchboxes, which may have included swabs taken from victims—an absolutely appalling thing to have to go through—and armed police units wasted money on spurious kit such as night vision goggles and camouflage clothes. My constituents will want to understand whether there are wider implications. What assessment has the Home Secretary made of the degree to which these appalling failings are happening in other forces? What action will she take to ensure that my constituents and those across the country get the decent, safe policing that they deserve?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I expect every report of rape to be treated seriously from the point of disclosure. Every victim needs to be treated with dignity and every investigation needs to be conducted thoroughly and professionally. The rape review took a hard and honest look at how the entire criminal justice system deals with rape, and in too many instances, it has not been good enough. That is why there is a whole programme of work afoot—including Operation Soteria, of which I am a big supporter—to improve the investigation of rape, reduce the time that it takes to get a prosecution going, and, ultimately, to improve outcomes for victims of rape.

Photo of Wendy Chamberlain Wendy Chamberlain Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

As a former police officer, I would like to say that I was shocked to read Baroness Casey’s excellent report, but to be honest, I am pretty inured by now to some of what we have heard. I will make two points. First, in my view, the most important rank in the police service, particularly if we want to change the culture, is police sergeant, but the report told us that the training for police sergeants amounted to a 23-slide PowerPoint. Will the Home Secretary task the College of Policing to ensure, and make an assessment, that that is not the case in other forces, and to directly support the Met in that regard? Secondly, as a Scottish MP—not a police officer any more—let me say that the Met’s performance impacts my constituents, too, through its national priorities. The Casey report said that it did not recommend dismantling the Met at this point but that that may be recommended in future. How will that assessment be made and who will make that decision?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The hon. Lady is right to talk about leadership training; that is why I work closely with the College of Policing to ensure we have a better programme of preparation for the next generation of police leaders. That must start early on in a policing career. The existing training is frankly not good enough, and that is why there will be a programme of reform announced soon.

Photo of Charlotte Nichols Charlotte Nichols Labour, Warrington North

Among the most harrowing parts of Baroness Casey’s report, she quotes a serving police officer who says of rape,

“you may as well say it’s legal in London.”

However, that is not just an issue for London or the Metropolitan Police. This Government have allowed the national charge rate for rape to drop to an abysmal, historic low of 1.6%. Does the Home Secretary accept that this is a national problem, and that it is her responsibility to fix it so that victims can expect justice from our justice system?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

It is exactly because we accept that there have been problems with the investigation and prosecution of rape that the Government commissioned the end-to-end rape review, which looked rigorously at how we can improve the investigation and prosecution of rape. The Metropolitan police is part of Operation Soteria, a pioneering new way of delivering better outcomes for victims. In the last year, the number of charges for adult rape offences increased by 79%. That is progress and movement in the right direction, and we need to ensure that it continues.

Photo of Liz Saville-Roberts Liz Saville-Roberts Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Women and Equalities) , Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader, Shadow PC Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Attorney General)

The Casey review’s conclusion that the Met is institutionally broken is damning, but this is not just about the Met. Looked at from Wales, the Westminster model of policing is failing. If we want policing in Wales to reflect the values of the people of Wales, strategy and scrutiny must be made in Wales. When will the Home Secretary acknowledge that reality and devolve policing to our Parliament?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I do not support devolving policing to Wales. We have a national oversight role for all forces in England and Wales, and I am very glad that the forces in Wales have responded well to my call for all chiefs to look at their data and vetting and to improve their vetting standards.

Photo of Jon Trickett Jon Trickett Labour, Hemsworth

A mature woman constituent who came to see me had been abused as a child by her father. The police simply did not address the matter for years and years until, through that struggle, we eventually managed to get a prosecution and the father ended up in jail. He is still there now. This is not simply a problem of the Met. What is the Home Secretary doing? Is it not reckless to hand over new police powers, such as stop and search, without suspicion of any crime being committed, to a racist, homophobic and misogynist police force? What guarantee can she give that those very police officers who are not acceptable will not use those powers to pursue their evil ways?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

On improving standards, I have launched a review of the dismissals process. We wait for that to conclude, and on the back of that we will take action, legislative if necessary, to change the standards and the process by which chief constables and senior leaders in policing apply those standards in recruitment. It is important that we look at the evidence from that consultation, and we will be announcing measures in due course.

Photo of Neale Hanvey Neale Hanvey Alba, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

Institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia are bad enough, but the deliberate operational decision to deprioritise women’s safety and child protection is serious and unforgivable. I asked the Home Secretary about safeguarding in response to her statement on David Carrick, and on 9 February I wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to look at establishing an independent safeguarding regulator, because this is a much bigger problem than the police. We have policy capture by proponents of queer theory that undermines the very activities that are of concern: women’s safety and child protection. Is it not time that we had an independent regulator that, as Carol Monaghan suggested, can tackle those problems across all public bodies?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

It is precisely because I take violence against women and girls seriously that I added it to the strategic policing requirement, so that it is set out as a national threat for forces to respond to alongside the other threats listed there. I am very proud of the range of tools and powers that the Government have introduced, such as stalking prevention orders, sexual harm and sexual risk orders, and forced marriage and female genital mutilation protection orders—a whole range of legislative measures that are empowering the police to respond more robustly to victims of abuse and domestic abuse.

Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland), Opposition Whip (Commons)

Baroness Casey’s finding of a “boys’ club” is sadly not a surprise to many of us—and let us not pretend that that culture is purely confined to WhatsApp groups in the Metropolitan Police. The report has shown the urgent need for action to make policing and police forces more transparent. When public trust in policing is at its lowest, it is unfathomable that serving police officers are not obliged to declare their affiliations with and memberships of societies such as the Freemasons. I urge the Home Secretary to bring in legislation to address that lack of transparency.

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Vetting standards are set by the College of Policing via its statutory code of practice on vetting, and the inspectorate has looked in depth at whether those standards are being properly applied. We are strengthening the statutory code of practice for police vetting and making the vetting obligations on all forces stricter and clearer. That is action that we are taking, but of course we need chief constables to take the requisite action at their end.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Swansea West

Baroness Casey’s report underlines the fact that the Met is systematically dysfunctional and discriminatory. That is manifested on a day-to-day basis when women and minority officers seek support in their workplace and are simply bullied and intimidated. When they complain, gangs of sergeants troop up to ridicule, abuse and coercively control them. Will the Home Secretary change that by introducing civilian management resources and independent accountability to empower and empathise with women and minority officers, with a view to increasing performance, welfare and retention in place of misogyny, racism and homophobia? Then we can get rid of the toxicity and have forces that we can all be proud of, both in the Met and across the land.

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Baroness Casey’s review makes clear that there is a need for some regulatory change. We are currently undertaking a review of the process for police officer dismissals, due to conclude in May, which will cover some of those issues, but we need to consider all the outcomes of the review before determining next steps.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

I thank the Secretary of State for her statement. Baroness Casey’s report is not simply uncomfortable, but devastating in the detail and the extent of problems and difficulties. It seems clear that nothing short of a complete overhaul of the force will engender the restoration of public trust. However, does the Secretary of State agree that the thousands of good Met officers cannot be tarred with the same brush? What steps will she take to support those members of staff and ensure they do not face unfair accusations at this time?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to pay tribute to the vast majority of serving police officers in the Met and throughout the country who do a good job, who are honest, decent and brave and who uphold the highest standards. Many of us will never see the crime prevented, the victims protected or the justice secured thanks to their everyday bravery. It is to that majority of officers that I appeal for their commitment. We cannot change this situation without them. They are part of the solution, and they need to step up and step forward if that much-needed change is to happen. We need to back the leadership and our brave police officers so that together we can create a Met that is fit for purpose.

Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Shadow Minister (Health and Social Care)

The Casey review is damning and makes difficult reading for those of us who support the police and the concept of policing by consent. Of course, these issues are pertinent not just to the Metropolitan police but to police forces across the country. I was reassured to receive an email today from Chief Superintendent John Webster, the district commander for Stockport in Greater Manchester police, in which he said:

“I’m sure you’ll agree with me that there will be some parallels that we can draw from this report. On standards of professional behaviour, it goes without saying that these are non-negotiable, and as your District Commander, it is important for you to know that I will never bend outside of our rules. I expect you all to have the same view.”

What is the Home Secretary doing to ensure that the words of Chief Superintendent Webster are communicated not just to his police officers in the Stockport division, but to police officers across the whole country?

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Secretary of State for the Home Department

If that is the last question, perhaps it is inspiring for us to end this session with reference to Greater Manchester police, because under the powerful leadership of Chief Constable Stephen Watson, that force has turned around. In a relatively short time, it has gone from being a failing force with severe, chronic and systemic problems to a force that is succeeding and winning in the fight against crime. That is thanks in large part to the strong leadership of Stephen Watson, upholding the highest standards, holding his officers to account and ensuring that the needs of the public come first and foremost in policing. That is a great example of what is possible for the Met.