The Metropolitan Police’s approach to tackling corruption is “dire” and “not fit for purpose”. That is the conclusion of the latest damning report into the force.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said, “The force has sometimes behaved in ways that make it appear arrogant, secretive and lethargic. Its apparent tolerance of the shortcomings we describe in this report suggests a degree of indifference to the risk of corruption.”
The findings are the result of a review that took place after an independent panel concluded that the Met was institutionally corrupt. The panel had spent eight years investigating the unsolved 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan, which is mired in cop corruption and cover-up. Despite five police investigations, no one has ever been convicted of his murder.
The panel specifically slammed the Met and outgoing commissioner Cressida Dick for delaying and hindering the panel’s attempts to look at corruption. Parr said it was inexcusable that, 35 years on from the murder, the Met had still not taken steps to correct mistakes. He added, “Corruption is almost certainly higher than the Met understands.” But “than the Met admits” would be a better description. In contrast to the panel report, Parr said he would not describe the Met as institutionally corrupt.
But the family of Daniel Morgan said they believed that “institutional corruption” perfectly described the force. They called on the home secretary and London mayor “to stop turning a blind eye to those within the Met who—at best—deliberately turned away from the stench of police corruption”. To “those who sought to manage the fallout from that corruption instead of confronting it”.
Despite treating institutional failures as merely incompetence, the report is damning. The inspectorate said many of the failings it identified had been highlighted before—yet Met promises to fix them had not been kept.
“Woeful” record keeping meant that more than 2,000 warrant cards belonging to officers who had left the force were unaccounted for. This had “sinister” implications, given that the serving Met officer Wayne Couzens used his card to abduct, rape and murder Sarah Everard in March last year.
The force’s handling of exhibits was a “bit of a shambles”, Parr said. This is rather polite considering there are hundreds of missing items, some most likely having been stolen by cops.
It describes policies for keeping evidence items safe as “dire”. Firearms tumbled out of cupboards when doors were opened. At one police station, the security code for a store was written on its door. There were questions over gift and hospitality records, or bribes as they should be known.
The report said that the Met did not know whether 4,200 officers in sensitive posts had had the correct level of security vetting. These posts include child protection, major investigations and informant handling. Parr noted that Scotland Yard has hired more than 100 people with criminal convictions in the last two years.
Now, while there are more honest criminals than honest cops, having criminals in the cops points to the little-discussed relationship between them. Cops rely on inside information. Police informers have crimes ignored or used against them. That in itself is a corrupting relationship. It is also the basis for criminal cooperation.
Repeated reports have noted unauthorised police computer checks, providing criminals with details of police operations and documents. That’s why the inspectorate noted the failings of the IT systems that were supposed to monitor police activity. Whether a cop is looking something up to stalk a victim or help a crooked mate, it is unlikely to be discovered.
As the Morgan family pointed out, “Our experiences have taught us that the lack of will to address the sickness of police corruption is too deeply institutionalised within the Met to allow it to respond in any meaningful or constructive way.”
The reports come and go. The Met top cops come, saying they will bring change, and go having changed nothing. What remains is that the police in general and the Met in particular are “institutionally corrupt” to their rotten core.
A tried and tested tactic
Joint struggle can create unity