My Lords, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place:
“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 our safety before theirs, 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 & 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 last year. 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 front-line 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 to 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.”
My Lords, as the son of a Metropolitan Police officer who served for 30 years, I need no reminding of the bravery and service of many police officers, including those around Parliament. As the Minister laid out, tomorrow we will remember the service of PC Keith Palmer, who was killed six years ago in a cowardly terrorist attack on this Parliament.
But there can be no hiding place from this damning report into the culture and behaviour of the Metropolitan Police, and the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, and her team are to be thanked for their exceptional work. It is so depressing to learn that the Metropolitan Police has not done the institutional work to root out racism, sexism and homophobia. The individual case studies in the reports, and the reports given in evidence, show appalling and shocking behaviour going unchallenged. How will all of this change? Why will it change now, following this report, given that so many other reports highlighted these failings in the past?
Even recently, when change was promised and cultural change was made a priority for the police, what does the Casey report say? As an awful example, it says that, following the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer, there was a “plane falling out of the sky” moment when we should have witnessed real change and reform. Instead, the police failed to understand the gravity and impact of the crimes of a serving police officer, saying that the force preferred to pretend that its own perpetrators were just “bad apples”. The report asks what it will take for the police to wake up and change, so I ask the Minister the same question.
What will the Government themselves do to ensure that the cultural change needed is driven forward? Of course, others have a responsibility, but the Minister has to accept that the Government of our country have a responsibility as well. It is not just at a senior level: what about local commanders? Why did no one realise that having rape kits in overflowing and broken fridges was unacceptable and, as the report says, symptomatic of a force that has simply lost its way?
What plan will there be to stop this? Will the Government take any role in overseeing an action plan for the future? What discussions will they have with not only the commissioner but the inspectorate and the mayor, on an ongoing basis? It cannot be right when a front-line officer tells the review:
“You don’t want to be a victim of rape in London.”
How will racism be rooted out? Why is nothing being done about the fact that, if you are a black officer, you are 81% more likely to be in the misconduct system than white colleagues? I can only wonder what my colleague, my noble friend Lady Lawrence, feels—I know she is not in her place. What do the Government say to the criticisms made by the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, when she points out the eyewatering use of force against the black community? Does the Minister now agree that the Government have a responsibility? How does it help when, despite strong arguments in this Chamber, the Government are extending the use of stop and search powers without suspicion for protest offences? It was said time and again in this Chamber that these powers will be disproportionately used against black and minority communities. The Government themselves need to learn and take responsibility.
It goes on, with the admission that many more officers are being investigated. Is it not simply shocking that, on the media this morning, the commissioner could not say categorically that no predators are still serving within the force? Is it not true that evidence was given about the treatment of gay officers and homophobic police practice? Again, following the Stephen Port inquiry into the murder of four men and the issue of homophobia, promises were made, practices were to be reviewed and change was to be brought about because of police failings. How has nothing happened? What is happening? Does the Minister know?
Therefore, action is needed culturally, but, in the short term, will the Government commit to suspending officers accused of rape and domestic abuse, as we would? Will the Home Secretary introduce mandatory national police standards on vetting, training and misconduct, as we have called for? Does the Minister agree with the report that austerity has profoundly affected the Met, eroding front-line policing? The Home Office has a clear role in driving up police standards. As part of this change, will the Government commit to the Casey report recommendation for specialist units to deal with violence against women and girls, and specialist 999 call handlers for such cases, as we have called for?
Does the Minister agree with me that the time for closing ranks to protect our own has to be over, that the time for defensiveness is over and that the time for denial is over? Trust and confidence have to be restored, and that can be done only by action, not just words. This is the time for that rebuilding of confidence and the restoring of trust. We have to seize the moment and do it now.
My Lords, in my 24 years of parliamentary activity, this has been one of the toughest and hardest-hitting reports that I have read. We must thank the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, for that review.
For decades, there has been racism, sexism, misogyny and homophobia in the Metropolitan Police, and, throughout that time, police leaders have wilfully denied it or have been so embedded in the culture that they do not recognise it. Those who stood up to be counted and reported misconduct were labelled troublemakers, ostracised by colleagues and targeted for misconduct investigations themselves. Some of those who were violent and racist were reinstated, even when they had been found guilty and dismissed.
A chief superintendent told my noble friend Lord Paddick, “You can get away with anything in this job, providing you don’t upset anyone”. Predominantly white male officers had senior officer supporters, while black, female and gay officers did not have the same sponsorship and were more likely to be formally investigated and have their appeals rejected. Even when a senior officer was accused of rape, the reputation of the Met was seen as paramount, and he was allowed to retire on a full pension, with no questions asked. So does the Minister accept that all of this is a failure of leadership at all levels, including that of the Government?
But, of course, in order to support the police, we must recognise that not every black, female, Sikh, Muslim or gay officer has had these experiences. But that does not detract from the fact that there is a corrupting and unhealthy culture that allows unacceptable behaviour to flourish and grinds down those who stand up for what is right.
Things have changed over the decades. For example, overt racism has been replaced by closed WhatsApp groups, to which only a few trusted colleagues are allowed access. Does the Minister agree that disproportionality in stop and search—stereotyping young black men as criminals, for example—demonstrates underlying racism? Does he agree that disrespecting women demonstrates underlying sexism, and that gay officers being afraid of the police demonstrates underlying homophobia? Does the Minister agree that the most important, pivotal change that Sir Mark Rowley has to make, and is making, is to reverse the overarching philosophy of “cover up” rather than “own up”? Does he agree that we need to support him?
Does the Minister agree that armed units such as the parliamentary and diplomatic team attract people who want to dominate and control, rather than cultivating such behaviours? Vetting and screening for these units are clearly inadequate, as is the whole process of vetting, as we have repeatedly raised in this Chamber in relation to having appropriate vetting procedures for both new and continuing officers.
Austerity has made things worse, as the Minister said. He said that, between 2010 and 2023-24, they have increased the cash budget of the Met by £178 million on a £3.3 billion budget over 13 years. I do not think that that is a magnificent increase, but it has certainly been reflected in the fact that we have only half the number of PCSOs in London and that specials have more or less disappeared. It means that there is a major role for the Government to play in putting things right. The Government have to assess whether they are funding the Met properly, and whether those resources are being used to the best effect.
The Home Secretary, the Mayor of London and the commissioner must all take responsibility for rescuing the Met from destroying itself. So I ask the Minister: what role do the Government see that they must play in making that change happen, given that they have sat around for all this time and we have not yet seen the results? It is clear that, despite all those repeated reviews—from Scarman, Macpherson and the HMIC—the force’s toxic culture has never been properly addressed. But this time it has to be. The leadership in the Met and the Home Office must view this as a precipice moment. The Home Secretary must take personal responsibility for this and must draw up an urgent plan. Can the Minister say what the plan is and what timescales they will use to show progress that goes beyond the tick box? The stakes are too high for anything less. The fundamental principle of policing by consent is at stake.
My Lords, I thank both noble Lords who have spoken. I will also take this opportunity, as the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, did, to thank the vast majority of police officers in London, who, frankly, must be as depressed as we all are by reading the awful findings of the report.
It is paramount that public trust in the Met is restored. The Home Secretary is committed to ensuring that the commissioner and the Mayor of London will be held to account to deliver a wholesale change in the force’s culture. Of course, there is more to do, and the nature of that mission of rooting out unfit officers will probably mean that more unacceptable cases will come to light. I am not surprised that Sir Mark was unable to answer that question directly.
However, as I have already said, we should not overlook the many officers working in the Met who carry out their duties with the utmost professionalism—I emphasise that point. I am also confident that, under Sir Mark’s leadership, progress is being made to reform standards and to deliver common-sense policing for Londoners. The noble Baroness, Lady Casey, was very explicit about this; she said that Sir Mark and his deputy, Lynne Owens, have her trust—and they also have the Government’s trust. The Government are driving forward work to improve culture, standards and behaviour across policing, which includes strengthening vetting and reviewing the dismissals process, which are subjects I will come back to.
On the subject of institutional racism, sexism and homophobia, it is obviously clear from the report that recent cases, including instances of all those things, in parts of the Metropolitan Police are completely unacceptable. It has been made very clear that standards have to improve in this area as a matter of considerable urgency. The Met has to rebuild trust, improve standards and keep all Londoners safe from harm, regardless of their background. Urgent steps must be taken now to bring this change and to right those wrongs. It is critical that we do not lose momentum and that we come together with the Met to drive this much-needed change.
The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked what action the Home Office is taking now. At this precise moment, the Home Office is closely monitoring the progress that Sir Mark is making to deliver the transformation that is required in the Metropolitan Police through regular attendance at the MPS’s turnaround board meetings and in the chief inspector-chaired policing performance oversight group. We stand ready, with other system leaders across policing, to consider what further support we may be able to provide to support the action plan that the commissioner has developed. We are working with chiefs and other partners to deliver a programme of work to drive up standards and to improve culture across policing.
I am afraid that I will turn to chapter 8 of the report, because the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, makes it very clear that
“the primary public accountability of the Met for policing London should exist through the Mayor of London, together with his Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) oversight arrangements … A dysfunctional relationship has developed between the Met and MOPAC, with defensive behaviours on one side”— to which the noble Lord, Lord German, referred—
“and tactical rather than strategic approaches on the other”.
The noble Baroness, Lady Casey, has recommended that the mayor chairs a quarterly board, and we support that. As I said in my opening remarks, we will make sure that both the commissioner and the mayor are held accountable on that. But the governance relationship is clear.
Much has been made of the impact of austerity, but I am afraid that I cannot agree because the Government have proposed a total police funding settlement of up to £17.2 billion in 2023-24—an increase of up to £287 million compared with 2022-23. As I have already said, as a result of the police uplift programme, officer numbers in the Met are at a historic high: there were 35,000 in December. On a per capita basis, in 2021 the Met received 57% higher funding per capita than the average for the rest of England and Wales, excluding London, and 24% more funding than the next highest force—Merseyside—which has a higher rate of police recorded offences per 1,000 of the population. Those numbers exclude funding that the Met receives for policing the capital city, counterterrorism and so on. Those numbers speak for themselves: the fact is that funding in London is about £300 per head of the population, compared with an average of just over £200 in the rest of the country.
Obviously, trust in the police is a subject of considerable concern, in particular in some of the communities that have been mentioned. I refer to comments made in the other place by Karen Buck, the MP for Westminster North, who pointed out:
“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”.
She was happy to accept that, and I think that we should, too.
Questions have been raised in the report about PaDP—Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection—and the firearms unit, which make for appalling reading. However, these units provide a vital function in providing protection and ensuring the public’s safety, and we expect the Met to take immediate action to drive reform in these functions and to root out any officers who are not fit to serve. I am pleased to say that considerable progress is already being made on that. In addition to a root-and-branch review, the Metropolitan Police has taken a large number of other steps to ensure that the public can have greater confidence: it is under a new commander, Chief Superintendent Lis Chapple, whom I am sure we all wish well; a third of all sergeants are new; PaDP officers have been prioritised as part of the MPS’s data wash against the police national database; and Operation Onyx is looking at historic misconduct cases that have previously been investigated and resolved, but which have included allegations of sexual offences or domestic abuse over the last 10 years. I am pleased that that work is taking place, and it is good news that it is taking place quickly.
As to the noble Baroness’s recommendation of “effectively disbanding” the PaDP unit, we do not believe that that is appropriate. As I have said, the Met has committed to, and made progress on, overhauling the command, and we expect it to make sure that the reforms reflect the gravity of the recommendation, while also ensuring that the command’s critical security functions are maintained. I think that those expectations are obvious and self-evident.
The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, raised stop and search. We remain of the belief that stop and search is a vital tool to tackle crime and to keep our streets safe. In 2021-22, stop and search removed around 14,900 weapons and firearms from our streets and resulted in almost 67,000 arrests. We are clear that nobody should be stopped and searched because of their race. Extensive safeguards, such as statutory codes of practice and body-worn video, exist to ensure that this does not happen. It is essential that we use data and context on stop and search to provide greater clarity and to reassure the public about its use. That is why the Government have committed to improve the way that this data is reported and to enable more accurate comparisons to be made between different police force areas. We have included new analysis in our police powers statistical bulletin in October 2022, which allows users to compare stop and search rates between the 43 police forces. To be clear: a higher rate should not automatically be regarded as a problem, but the reasons should be transparent and explicable to local communities.
I accept that this can cause disquiet, of course, but I came across these words earlier when I was reading my briefing on this subject and was really rather taken with them. I will read them to noble Lords, who I hope will indulge me. Sharon Kendall, whose 18 year-old son Jason Isaacs was murdered in London, said:
“For those who try and tie the hands of the police in making their job more difficult, I ask you to stop and look at all the murdered teenagers’ faces. If we collectively gave a little more support to the police using stop-and-search and enforcement, things would change.”
I accept that the police have a great deal of work to do to improve the culture—of course I do. However, we should also bear in mind her context and take it very seriously when discussing this subject.
The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked about the vetting process. There is already a statutory vetting code for all forces, and the Government have asked the College of Policing to update it to insert stricter obligations for chief officers on how vetting should be carried out within their forces. That is currently out for consultation. On the subject of bans for applicants with histories of domestic and sexual abuse, the revised code will be clearer on obligations on chiefs not to appoint individuals who are not suitable to be police officers.
On chief officers suspending officers under investigation for such allegations, the chief constables have a power in law to suspend police officers either where an investigation would otherwise be prejudiced or the public interest requires the officer to be suspended. In both cases, chiefs must also consider whether temporary redeployment to an alternative role or location would be appropriate. These are rightly operational decisions for chiefs following careful consideration of the full facts and circumstances.
On leadership, I agree that leadership has been found wanting in the police but we have invested £3.35 million from 2021 to 2023 for the College of Policing to create a national leadership centre. As part of this, the college is now in the process of setting and rolling out national leadership standards at key levels in the police service and providing leadership development programmes aligned to these standards. I have spoken to Andy Marsh and the chair of the College of Policing on this subject, as I know has my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. I suspect it is a subject to which we will return, as clearly work needs to be done there.
Lastly, but by no means least, on the subject of violence against women and girls, my answer will include Operation Soteria to which I have referred from the Dispatch Box before. It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, that rape and sexual violence are devastating crimes that have a long-lasting impact on victims. Protecting women and girls from violence and supporting victims and survivors of sexual violence are a key priority for the Government. It is abhorrent.
The cross-government tackling VAWG strategy and tackling domestic abuse plan set out actions to prioritise prevention, help support survivors, strengthen the pursuit of perpetrators and create a stronger system. In 2021, the then Home Secretary commissioned HMICFRS to inspect the police response to VAWG. It found that while there had been progress, there was more to do to improve the police response. We accepted all the report’s recommendations to government.
To support policing to improve its response, we are funding the first full-time national policing lead for VAWG, Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth, who is driving improvements in the police response. We have added VAWG to the strategic policing requirement, which means it is set out as a national threat for forces to respond to alongside other threats such as terrorism, serious and organised crime, and child sexual abuse. We are providing £3.3 million for domestic abuse matters training and are funding Operation Soteria, which will improve the police response to rape. We have introduced a range of tools and powers to help policing tackle VAWG, including stalking protection orders, sexual harm and sexual risk orders, and forced marriage and FGM protection orders.
I have talked about Operation Soteria from the Dispatch Box before. In the pathfinder forces there are signs of improvement, which is welcome, but I acknowledge that they still do not go far enough. To the Met’s credit, it is one of the first five forces to go into that programme. I forget what the precise terminology is, but it is one of the trial forces.
I accept that there has been a failure of leadership in the police, of course, but I have faith in Sir Mark and I suspect that most of the House will share that faith. The police have a lot of work to do to restore trust, and I hope that has been made clear. There is clearly a long way to go for the Metropolitan Police, but in Sir Mark and Dame Lynne we have a very strong top team, as the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, acknowledged. They are certainly well placed to start and prioritise this work and make sure it is delivered in a timely fashion.
My Lords, does the Minister agree that in the spirit of bipartisanship, on such a dark day for the capital and the country, nobody should double down against the central finding of institutional prejudice? This does not mean that everybody is prejudiced; it just means that there are systemic problems that need to be addressed if we are to tackle these deep-seated problems in the institution.
Secondly, does the Minister agree that it is not just for the mayor or the Government and that Parliament has a role in this, going forward? Some of the many findings in the very difficult but excellent, robust report perhaps require primary legislation—pension forfeiture, robust disciplinary and vetting systems and so on. Is this something that we can continue to discuss together at this terrible time for policing and the rule of law?
I certainly agree with the noble Baroness’s latter point. During my response I omitted to mention the review into police dismissals. Obviously, that is ongoing. It started on
As regards the institutional racism and so on, like Sir Mark Rowley I probably would not use that description because it can be misused and risks making it harder for officers to win the trust of communities, but I of course acknowledge the noble Baroness’s point.
My Lords, does my noble friend accept that a particular responsibility rests on the Home Office here? Will he take away an idea and discuss it with his colleagues? Namely, there should be a Minister of Cabinet rank within the Home Office, or maybe detached from the Home Office, whose prime, indeed sole, responsibility should be to be stationed at Scotland Yard supervising what goes on, and answerable to both Houses of Parliament. This is a shameful day for us all, and the Home Office cannot escape its share of the blame.
My noble friend makes an interesting suggestion. There is already a Policing Minister. My personal view is that it would be difficult to station a Minister in a police station, which is effectively what he is suggesting. We need to be very careful to make sure that political oversight and operational responsibility, as the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, calls it, are clearly delineated. I am sorry if he does not like the fact that the noble Baroness pointed to the Mayor of London’s responsibility for the political side of policing in London, but that is what she did in chapter 8.
My Lords, it is obvious that the Home Secretary there is setting up the Mayor of London to be totally accountable. We all know that she has to play a role as well. In fact, it might be good if she stopped using racist, inflammatory language, because that would probably help the situation in the Met. Perhaps the Minister could take that back to the Home Office.
There is also the fact that anyone who has been watching the Met for the past 20 years—and I include myself—knows that nothing in that review is new. We have all raised all those issues many times—the noble Lord, Lord Harris, is agreeing with me. It is not new and should have been dealt with long before.
However, there is one thing in the review that could be fixed if the police actually tried to sort it. The noble Baroness, Lady Casey, makes the point that
“the Met does not look like the majority of Londoners.”
That is a very good point because it is mostly white—82%—and 71% male. Over the years the Met has tried to make itself look more like London, but there is a big problem in that most officers do not live in London. Also, when you have this level of misogyny, racism and homophobia, you do not attract people in. Does the Minister agree that a big move on recruitment might help the situation?
On the noble Baroness’s last point, yes, I agree—but I also think that a key element of that is to restore trust among the diverse communities that the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, has identified as having reduced or lost trust in the police. I am afraid that I cannot agree, though, that the Home Secretary is setting up the Mayor of London. It is in black and white: it is the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, who makes the point, not the Home Secretary. I shall acknowledge, of course, that the Home Secretary bears some responsibility for policing in the capital—because, of course, the Metropolitan Police has a large number of national aspects to its work, too.
I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. It cannot have been much fun to read it out—and it is horrifying to read. For those of us who have been involved in some of the legislation going through this House in the last few years, I am afraid that very little of it is a surprise.
To follow on from the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, speaking as a Cross-Bencher, one of the things that I find most egregious is the politicisation of dealing with this problem. I live in a constituency in London where my wonderful Member of Parliament, Mr Hands, has recently, poor chap, been made the chairman of the Minister’s party. Every week, I have an email from him, which I call “The wonder of Greg”, which tells me about all the things he is doing, including taking the oath to the new King—and we had a clip to watch. But every week, week in and week out, there is constant sniping at the Mayor of London, in a nakedly political way, which is doing nobody any good at all.
Mr Khan may not be everybody’s flavour of the month, but the only way in which we will tackle this issue is to depoliticise the relationship between whichever Government it is, the Home Office and the mayor, who is there to represent all Londoners and not there to be an enemy of those who are Conservatives. If the Minister could take one message to his right honourable friend in the other place, when she is not doing home decorating in parts of Africa, it is to try to remember that the mayor is there to represent all of us who live here in London, and there to represent the interests of all victims—and please can we be a bit more grown-up about this and be very careful about the language that we use?
From a broad point of view, I of course agree with the noble Lord. I do not personally approve of the politicisation of policing. However, I shall go back to the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, who said:
“A dysfunctional relationship has developed between the Met and MOPAC”.
Under those circumstances, I would say to the noble Lord that it works both ways. I also think that whatever he is seeing locally is best dealt with locally. I shall of course raise his concerns with the chairman of my party, but the fact is that these are not Home Office points—they are made by the noble Baroness herself, when she says that a “dysfunctional relationship has developed”. That dysfunctional relationship needs to be resolved.
I was not going to say this, but now I shall. First, I declare an interest because the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime was my special adviser 20 years ago and remains a very close friend. Those who have taken responsibility in this area—and, of course, I have—will be aware of the real difficulty of holding the police force to account. Yes, there may have been a dysfunctional relationship, spelled out in chapter 8 of the brilliant report by the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, who deserves a medal for what she has done over these months. But what the noble Baroness was pointing out was the real difficulty that any mayor has—and this applies to the Home Secretary as well—in a situation where the force is so defensive. This is illustrated in the report time and again: the force is so defensive that any criticism at all is taken personally, and people go on the defensive to the point where you cannot have a sensible or rational conversation.
From now on, perhaps the Minister would take it back to the Home Secretary—and, of course, to the mayor and the mayor’s office—that it is time to stop the police hiding behind operational responsibility and to understand that somewhere and somehow they have to be held to account. At this moment in time, we are doing so, but on the back of years of failure. If we are to avoid that in future, we will have to have transparency and honesty in a way that we have not had.
I defer to the noble Lord’s extensive experience, of course, and I actually agree with everything that he has just said. The fact is that the report also identified an “evasive” culture and a culture that is overly defensive when it comes to perfectly justified criticism. I have confidence that Sir Mark will change that culture and do so very quickly—but, of course, he needs to be held accountable for doing that. The noble Lord is completely right: this cuts both ways, and for this situation to become less dysfunctional both sides have to operate in a much more functional way.
One of the themes of this report is a “we know best” culture. Clearly, the Met has not wanted external challenge or external help from expert stakeholders, be it on women’s issues or all the things that are revealed in this shocking report. Can the Minister say what specific conversations he has had about a plan in place to change the culture, drawing in that external expertise? As the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, said, if you are going to do this, you need a strategy, but you also need specific plans, tools, metrics and deliverables. I take on board all the points that the Minister has made about the mayor’s role, but there is a responsibility in the department to know how and when this will be delivered and how it will be measured.
My noble friend makes an extremely good point. I have had a couple of conversations with Sir Mark Rowley, but I know that the Policing Minister has had many more. It is obviously the case that our response, as well as that of the commissioner, will develop over the coming days. I think that we should give him a little bit of time to respond to this report in full. Having said that, he has been in post for six months and he has our good will and support but, to maintain that good will and support, he is going to have to deliver, and metrics and deliverables will have to be a key part of that.
My Lords, I refer to my policing interests in the register. I chaired the Metropolitan Police Authority some 20 years ago, and one of my members was the noble Baroness, Lady Jones. It is a very strong and powerful report, and all credit to the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, for producing it and to Dame Cressida Dick for commissioning it in the first place. The point about the report is that it tells us things that we have known for all that period.
Strikingly, a recommendation is made by the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, that says:
“As a minimum, Met officers should be required to give their name, their shoulder number, the grounds for the stop and a receipt confirming the details of the stop”.
That is something that the Metropolitan Police Authority gave instructions should happen over 20 years ago. It was introduced then, but somehow along the way it has disappeared. That is part of the way in which the police service reverts to a particular type, unless there is constant pressure and vigilance, and support for those many officers who want to make things happen.
I have two points that I want to make to the Minister. First, he said that he did not accept the statement that there is institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia, but he also said that he wanted to rebuild confidence with those communities. Maybe a statement in which the Home Office, the mayor and the commissioner all acknowledged the fact that, despite all those officers and staff who do not behave in this way, there is an institutional effect, would be part of restoring that confidence.
The second point is that today we have focused, necessarily, on the Metropolitan Police, but what assurances can the Minister give us about the state of other police forces elsewhere in the country, because I rather suspect that the diagnosis that has been made here could also be made in many other places?
I think I need to correct the record. I did not say that I did not accept that there has been evidence of institutional racism, sexism or homophobia—I said that I would not use that description, which is rather different. Of course, I accept the conclusions of the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, and there have been clear evidences of all those things, as I said earlier.
As regards other police forces, obviously this particular report deals with the Met. It is one of the five forces that are currently in Engage, so clearly there are some failings in other police forces around the country, which I think we are all familiar with. It would be unfortunate to tar all the other forces with this brush, but I am quite sure that there is evidence of the sorts of behaviours identified here in some of those things. Of course, some of them will be specific to the Met, because of course they do not necessarily mirror the structures and commands in other forces. This should be a wake-up call to all policing—I think that that is fairly evident—and I hope that senior police officers, and all police officers around the country, will make the effort to read this report and reflect.
My Lords, it is 30 years ago next month that Stephen Lawrence was killed. So there have not been “growing concerns” among young black people in London; they have been telling us for years that things have not changed and we—meaning all of us—did not listen. At that time, in 1983, a black gentleman called Leroy Logan did join the police and rose to be a superintendent. He founded the Metropolitan Black Police Association and chaired it for 30 years. He is one of the people who has an insight. I asked him today, “Has the commissioner asked to see you?” “No.” Unfortunately, this does not give me confidence that the Metropolitan Police are prepared to hear from their detractors. If someone such as this, who was the subject of a short film by Steve McQueen that was based on his life, has not been through the door of the commissioner in light of today’s report, I hope that the Minister can take back a specific request that he meet Leroy Logan.
I have asked my noble friend the Minister on other occasions why, when the force is under special measures or the Engage process, and we know that other officers have potentially committed criminal offences, it is the Metropolitan Police investigating other officers in their own police force. We do not know whether the CPS will ever get sight of those files. Why is there not an equivalent process to that in the health service and the education service, where, when you are put into this kind of process, there is independent oversight of that function?
Finally, the report is limited to culture. Culture and competence are like twins. We have an example of rape evidence being lost from a fridge because a heatwave came. Is the Minister going to treat this as the Government’s role? We now need a further piece of work on the competence of the police. Is it the case that evidence is being lost routinely? Is it correct when barristers tell me that Amazon may know where your parcel is by using the barcode, but the Metropolitan Police do not necessarily know where evidence is? Is it the case that the Criminal Cases Review Commission is having trouble when it asks for swabs from a case a few years ago because the police do not know where they are? These are all competency issues. Do we not now need a separate piece of work on competency and not culture?
I say to my noble friend, on the subject of the police officer she mentioned, that it is not for me to tell Sir Mark who he should speak to; I am sure he has a very good idea who he ought to speak to. It sounds to me as though that particular person’s experience is obviously relevant. Maybe it is part of an ongoing plan; I do not know. Obviously if I see him, I will ask him.
It is clear that the Met must have the confidence of all communities, including black and ethnic groups. If it manages to regain that confidence, that should help recruitment and all the other things that were identified by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones.
On competence, I think that the Met should be allowed to deal with the cultural side of this report over the coming days. I am sure that, if there were incompetence allegations, they would have been aired in a much more detailed and methodical way, rather than the anecdotal side of things—although I accept that those are very serious. Having said that, I think it is for Sir Mark to come back to us on this. Obviously, there is the crime survey, and the reported statistics will be very revealing.
My Lords, I was very pleased to hear the Minister agree with my noble friend that sexism, homophobia and racism were institutional in the Metropolitan police force, because that was certainly not what his right honourable friend the Home Secretary said at the other end of the building a few hours ago, and that is a great shame.
Here we are again; I think this is the third time in several months that we have been discussing the terrible conduct of our uniformed forces in this country, on whom we so depend. I just wonder what on earth has been going on that has allowed the same things to be said over and over again. We had the fire brigade a few months ago; now we have the Metropolitan Police.
I would like to ask the Minister about the examples of violence against women from police officers, because, if 43 police forces do what they like on vetting, training and misconduct, can the Government finally accept that we urgently need mandatory national standards on vetting, misconduct and training? That follows on from my noble friend’s statement that we will need primary legislation that deals with those issues.
My Lords, I am going to defend my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, who said the following. I have already read this, but I am going to read it again. She said:
“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 do not see her avoiding the charges, as was suggested.
As regards vetting, the Government have asked the College of Policing to strengthen the statutory code of practice for police vetting, making the obligations that all forces must legally follow much stricter and clearer. This is currently out for consultation. That consultation process closes on