Scotland Yard is having to employ about 100 officers who cannot be trusted to deal with the public in a “completely mad” situation because of a lack of powers to remove them, the Met Commissioner has warned.
Sir Mark Rowley said it was ridiculous and perverse that his force was having to pay the officers when it was unable to allow them to come into contact with the people they were meant to be serving.
He added that each of the officers was on severely restricted duties to keep them away from the public and that the Met was examining whether “new levers” could be used to remove them.
But he said that “under the conventional approaches we can’t” as he renewed his call for the Home Office to provide police chiefs with stronger powers to remove rogue or unfit officers from their ranks.
Sir Mark’s comments follow a series of scandals including the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by Met officer Wayne Couzens, to the racist and misogynistic conduct of some officers at Charing Cross police station. These cases and others have shone a spotlight on criminal activity and misconduct within the Met and led to a vigorous attempt by Sir Mark, who took over as Commissioner in September from ousted predecessor Dame Cressida Dick, to clean up the force.
He used an interview on Thursday with the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme to warn, however, that his efforts were being thwarted by inadequate powers.
“I’ve got about 100 officers in the organisation who have very restrictive conditions on them because frankly we don’t trust them to talk to members of the public,” he said. “It’s completely mad that I have to employ people like that as police officers that you can’t trust to have contact with the public.
“It’s ridiculous. We are looking at whether we have got any new legal levers, but under the conventional approaches we can’t. It’s perverse.” Sir Mark said the Met was being “more assertive and creative in our use of existing powers” and was also “encouraged by the Home Secretary and the Home Office’s enthusiasm to look again at regulations to give us powers to move more quickly against officers we shouldn’t have”. Sir Mark has previously warned that in addition to around 500 officers subject to misconduct investigations, the force has another 3,000 it cannot fully deploy because they are either injured, suffering mental health problems or not performing adequately.
He said that this meant that around 10 per cent of the force’s police were unavailable for full duties and that this was another problem that needed addressing because of its impact on its ability to serve the public.
A damning report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services published earlier this month into police vetting and misconduct raised further concerns about standards within the Met, which was one of nine forces used to compile the findings.
The watchdog, which had already placed the Met in special measures because of its deficient performance, found that hundreds of officers who should have failed vetting checks had been allowed to join forces.
It said they included one convicted of domestic abuse and another accused of sexual assault, while others with links to organised crime or with serious allegations against them were being allowed to work without adequate monitoring and safeguards.
The watchdog also highlighted widespread misogynistic attitudes within forces and highlighted one example of officers conducting “booty patrols” in which attractive women were stopped unjustifiably for checks.
Sir Mark’s comments came as the Met announced its success in breaking up a huge online fraud factory in which criminals posed as legitimate banks such as
Barclays, HSBC and others to steal millions of pounds from more than 200,000 potential victims in Britain.
More than 70,000 phone numbers identified by investigators will be contacted today or tomorrow asking the owners to visit the Met’s website for more information and report fraud losses.