Police Power Struggles …at the pleasure of the people

…to encounter power struggles and resolve them is to serve at the pleasure of the people, hold their confidence and is a sentiment of democracy and equality. Abuse of might and force can break faith with the people and once faith is broken it is difficult to reestablish.  Without clarity, at its worst, abuse can pit police officers against each other and target civilians as an enemy. This report is authored by Baroness Casey and it details how to change the system, the boundaries, and the expectations of care.

Baroness Casey: Our analysis has identified eight key issues:
1. The Met takes too long to resolve misconduct cases. On average, the Met takes 400 days to finalize misconduct allegations from start to finish. Even removing those involving the Independent Office for Police Conduct, cases still take, on average, nearly 350 days. Nearly 20% of misconduct cases take more than two years to finalize.

2. Officers and staff do not believe that action will be taken when concerns
around conduct are raised. And they are right not to do so as, consistently, 5560% of misconduct allegations made by Met officers, staff and their families receive a ‘no case to answer’ decision. Line managers and supervisors are warning staff against taking misconduct action, so that the view that nothing happens is institutionalized.

3. Allegations relating to sexual misconduct and other discriminatory behaviours are less likely than other misconduct allegations to result in a ‘case to answer’ decision. ‘Case to answer’ decisions are given to 20% of allegations concerned with breaching equality and diversity rules, and 29% of allegations involving sexual misconduct compared to 33% of all finalized allegations. This suggests that equality and discrimination issues are not being tackled effectively.

4. The misconduct process does not find and discipline officers with repeated or patterns of unacceptable behaviour. Between 2013 and 2022, 20% of officers and staff in the misconduct system have been involved in two or more cases, but the data shows that less than 1% of those officers have been dismissed. The current approach to misconduct only allows for allegations to be dealt with individually and as far as we can see, connections are not made to prior concerns raised which fall short of formal misconduct. This means repeated or escalating misconduct is not spotted,
missing those who potentially pose most risk to others.

5. The Met does not fully support local Professional Standards Units (PSUs) to deal with misconduct effectively. Many misconduct cases are handled by the local PSUs working in individual commands rather than the central Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS). It is my view that PSUs are overstretched, underresourced and do not receive training in misconduct, undermining local efforts to improve standards of behaviour. Greater authority and support should be given to PSUs as a matter of urgency.

6. The Met is not clear about what constitutes ‘Gross Misconduct’ and what will be done about it. The Met threshold and interpretation for what counts as ‘Gross Misconduct’ is set too high, meaning too many of those who fall short of what the public would expect cannot be removed. In addition to this, where a case to answer for ‘Gross Misconduct’ is found, the number of those actually dismissed has fallen significantly in recent years.

7. There is racial disparity throughout the Met’s misconduct system. Despite
improvement, it was still the case in 202122 that Black officers and staff were 81% more likely than White officers to have misconduct allegations brought against them, while Asian officers were 55% more likely. Black and Asian officers were also more likely to have an allegation substantiated than White officers. This is a long standing issue and is clear evidence of systemic bias.

8. Regulation 13 is not being used fairly or effectively in relation to misconduct. Regulation 13 (which allows for the removal of probationers) is not being used to remove enough of those officers who should not be in policing, with only 8% of cases in the most recent year resulting in dismissal. Regulation 13 is also, however, being
3 used disproportionally on those from ethnic minorities, with Black officers being 126% more likely and Asian officers 123% more likely to be subject to a Regulation 13 case than White officers.
Further to these eight key issues, I also want to stress four broader points:

Firstly, that these issues are not new. The data set we have had access to dates from 2013 to 2022. In addition there are numerous reports and recommendations on many of the issues raised in this letter that go back decades including the key matter of racial disproportionality. In the light of that and of their concerning nature, it is all the more important that you, as the new Commissioner, and your new leadership team grip this and take the necessary action by making urgent and effective improvements, not incremental reform.

Secondly, that the DPS itself does not fully command the confidence of officers and staff and requires a significant change to do so. Colleagues in DPS also report how challenging and difficult their jobs are. An enhanced DPS alone, with a business as usual approach, will risk making the issues outlined above even worse. Across the Met it is apparent that the burden placed on those raising allegations is too heavy and needs to be lightened by more confident management. Radical reform is required here, based on a root and branch overhaul to the system. An early start would be to enhance the approach taken by the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Offences team, established in February 2022 under the Rebuilding Trust programme.

Thirdly, I am concerned about the pressures on the frontline in the BCUs and within that about line management and supervision within the Met (an issue also recently raised by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services). These are the first and most critical opportunities in setting, embedding and enforcing professional standards. Human Resources does not have a big enough role in the misconduct system or in supporting line managers. Improving these will help prevent misconduct in the first place and help some lowlevel cases from escalating, as well as encouraging quicker and more effective action where necessary. I will be returning to this issue in my future full report.

Fourthly, I recognize that some improvements will rely on overall regulatory changes that affect policing nationally and not just the Met. The decline in dismissals for Gross Misconduct has coincided with the introduction of independent Legally Qualified Chairs at misconduct hearings although we do not have the data available to know whether there is a causal connection. In addition the overly complex quasijudicial nature of the system makes it more akin to a criminal justice process with a high
evidential bar, than an internal system which is supposed to uphold high professional standards and maintain public confidence in the police service.