Restoring confidence in the Met Police
You’ll have seen the news that the Metropolitan Police is in “special measures”
. Scrutinising the Met Police is one of our biggest jobs on the London Assembly, on the Police and Crime Committee we’ve been looking at how to restore public trust and confidence.
One big problem is dealing with police complaints and removing bad officers. On this, we’ve quizzed the Met’s most senior officers, the Police Federation who represent rank and file officers, and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). We’ve also heard at length from Matt Parr CB
, HM Inspector of Constabulary responsible for inspecting the Met Police. Finally, I’ve spoken privately to a number of police officers to understand their view.
What strikes me is that those different groups are all saying the same thing: it is too difficult to remove bad officers and, whatever the end result, the whole process takes too long. The status quo isn’t working for anyone.
The IPCC is the fourth attempt to create an outside body to handle police complaints, going back to the Police Complaints Board in 1977. To me, the reorganisations and name changes are a red flag that this isn’t a new problem and so far no one’s managed to crack it.
Having taken evidence, we’re now weighing up our conclusions and recommendations. However, my personal view is that the police complaints process needs to get five things right and currently seems to be struggling on all of them:
- Dismiss police officers for serious wrongdoing.
- Support improvement where officers make less serious errors.
- Give confidence to the public that police misconduct is dealt with.
- Provide a fair hearing to accused officers, because complaints can be false or malicious.
- Promptly resolve complaints one way or the other.
Some of these are difficult judgements, such as what’s serious wrongdoing and what’s a correctable mistake. And there’s always going to be a trade-off between resolving cases quickly and maintaining confidence by resolving them correctly and fairly.
But right now, complaints frequently drag on for years, leaving officers in limbo, and yet neither the public nor the police themselves seem to have have confidence in the results. So I’m optimistic that there is room for some improvement.