Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley tells the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee of the worrying rates of criminal cases against Met officers, Sian Norris reports
Sign up for our weekly Behind the Headlines email and get a free copy of Byline Times posted to you
There are “two or three officers going to court for criminal cases” in most weeks, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has told the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee, in a hearing that followed the guilty plea of serving police officer David Carrick for multiple sexual offences.
The criminal cases “tend to be a mix of dishonesty, violence, and violence against women and girls offences – domestic abuse, sexual offences,” he continued.
A total of 12 women murdered by police officers between 2009-18. There have been 388 complaints of sexual offences by serving Met officers since 2010, and 398 officers or staff members were accused of domestic abuse between 2018-21. Of these, 19 resulted in formal action and eight in a court conviction.
The figures given by Rowley were in response to a question regarding a review of more than 1,000 accusations of gender-based violence against staff members which had previously been dropped.
Rowley warned the committee that due to backlogs in the criminal justice system, it could be years before any criminal allegations against Met staff identified in the review reach court. The review aims to be completed in the coming months.
He explained that should any of the 1,000 re-opened accusations become a criminal investigation, a guilty plea may not reach court until 2024, while a trial could be as distant as 2025.
“Particularly with the logjam in the criminal justice system in London, that’s a sense of the timeline we are going to face,” Rowley added.
Rowley and members of the committee emphasised the “majority of our people are really good people” but that he has been “very clear” that the issue is more than “a few bad apples”.
Diana Luchford, the Chief Executive of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) remarked that they had seen “markedly less defensiveness, more transparency and more openness with the new leadership team”.
Predators and Failings
The hearing followed the news last week that a serving Met police officer was one of the most prolific sexual offenders in the UK.
Carrick, who was part of the same unit as Wayne Couzens, the killer of Sarah Everard in 2021, committed 85 serious offences over 17 years, despite the force being told repeatedly of the allegations against him.
However, Carrick is far from the only ‘bad apple’. Hours before the hearing started, PC Hussain Chehab, 22, admitted four counts of sexual activity with a girl aged 13 to 15. He also admitted to three counts of making indecent photographs of a child, and one of engaging in sexual communication with a child.
PC Chehab was in a role as a Safer Schools officer attached to a secondary school in North London. Following his arrest in August 2021, he was placed on restricted duties, which involved no contact with schools or children.
This week it was also revealed that a constable in the Metropolitan Police’s professional standards unit is being investigated over the alleged sexual assault of a female colleague. The professional standards unit investigates misconduct within the force.
The allegations against the constable raised questions during the committee, with Rowley asked how confident he can be in the quality and integrity of the unit’s officers when one of its own is accused of sexual misconduct.
Don’t Miss a Story
The Met has been struggling to rebuild trust with women, LGBTQ+ people, and black and minority ethnic people after numerous scandals in recent years.
These include accusations that it failed to act on warnings against men such as Carrick and Couzens, and responding to Couzens’ guilty plea by suggesting women concerned about their safety “flag down buses”. The revelations that officers were sharing derogatory WhatsApp messages about women, including domestic abuse survivors, further damaged trust – as did the jailing of two police officers who shared photos of the murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry.
Accusations of homophobia have also been levelled against the Met, after it was claimed that officers had made assumptions about the victims of the serial killer Stephen Port. The families of those killed said the force had “blood on its hands”.
Having been found to be “institutionally racist” in the wake of the MacPherson report, that examined the Met’s response to the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the force continues to be dogged by racism scandals – including the strip search of Child Q last year and the fatal shooting of Chris Kaba.
Black people continue to be disproportionately targeted by the criminal justice system, including in stop and search operations.
OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU
Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.