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UK's largest police force needs 'complete overhaul', report says

Racism, sexism and inadequate management are some of the issues cited in the scathing independent report.

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A Metropolitan Police officer walks beside a protest march near Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, in central London, on Jan 21. Photo: AFP
A Metropolitan Police officer walks beside a protest march near Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, in central London, on Jan 21. Photo: AFP

Britain's largest police force is guilty of "deep-seated homophobia" and predatory behaviour, with officers from minorities suffering widespread bullying, a scathing independent report said Tuesday.

The report, written by government official Louise Casey, was commissioned in the wake of the murder of London woman Sarah Everard by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens.

Casey found a culture of homophobia within the London force, while female officers and staff "routinely face sexism and misogyny".

The Met had "not protected its female employees or members of the public from police perpetrators of domestic abuse, nor those who abuse their position for sexual purposes," she said.

"Time and time again, those complaining are not believed or supported. They are treated badly, or face counter-claims from those they have accused," said the report.

It said an "absence of vigilance" meant that "predatory and unacceptable behaviour has been allowed to flourish."

Racism also exists within the force, with discrimination "often ignored" and complaints "likely to be turned against black, Asian and ethnic minority officers," the report said.

Since the killing of Everard, other shocking cases involving London police officers have come to light.

David Carrick was jailed for life last month for dozens of rapes and sexual assaults stretching back to 2002. Carrick and Couzens served at one point in the same armed unit protecting MPs and foreign diplomats.

Met police chief Mark Rowley – who was appointed after Cressida Dick was forced out last April following a series of scandals – told the media he was "under no illusions about the significance of this moment."

"We have let people down," he said. "The appalling examples of discrimination and letting down of communities and victims... are unacceptable. I'm deeply sorry for that."


The report concluded there are "systemic and fundamental problems" in the force, with "inadequate management" the main cause.

It made 16 recommendations that it said would constitute a "complete overhaul" of the Met.

Failure to reform could mean the famous force being broken up, warned Casey.

Rowley said the report made "upsetting reading" and promised to do "everything as everything that's humanly possible to implement the recommendations."

The Met's investigation of crimes was also criticised, with the report saying that the force relied on "over-stuffed, dilapidated or broken fridges and freezers" to store forensic evidence.

A lunchbox was found in the same fridge as forensic samples in rape cases, with appliances so full they were strapped shut.

One fridge broke down, meaning the evidence inside could no longer be used, said the report.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who initiated the report, called the findings "damning", saying Casey had uncovered "institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia."

"This review simply must be a turning point and I expect all the recommendations to be implemented quickly and in full," he said.