Britain’s biggest police force has moved officers from tackling serious and organised crime and counter-terrorism to internal standards to help clean-up its workforce.
The Metropolitan Police – branded institutionally racist, homophobic and misogynist in a major review – has lurched between a series of scandals in recent years, including the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer and ex-Pc David Carrick being unmasked as a serial abuser and rapist.
Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, who began the job in September, believes there are hundreds of corrupt officers serving in the force who should not be in the job.
In a letter to Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, he said the work to clean up the force was so urgent that around 90 officers had been diverted from serious crimes to the Directorate for Professional Standards (DPS).
“Over the last three months we have had, on average, 90 additional officers and staff from these areas supporting DPS.
“The shared determination has been seen through the excess of volunteers.
“We have taken this decision because we cannot succeed in any policing mission unless we resolve these issues as urgently as possible.”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said the officers’ investigative expertise is useful in rooting out wrongdoing.
The Met is carrying out a series of reviews of officers and staff to try to weed out those who should not be in the job.
“The most urgent thing is to, if you like, remove the cancer from the body and that’s what this is about, that first step,” he said.
More than 1,000 records where officers and staff were accused of domestic violence or sexual offences in the past 10 years have now been checked to make sure the right decision was taken.
Sir Mark said that of the 1,131 individuals whose cases were reviewed, 246 will see no further action; 689 will have their case reassessed; and 196 will be referred into formal risk management measures and may have their vetting status reviewed.
Each of the cases will also be reviewed by an external panel.
Sir Mark said he is considering tightening the rules around officers and staff with criminal convictions, to ban anyone prosecuted for anything other than “the most trivial matters” or offences committed under the age of 18.
A total of 161 Met officers have criminal convictions, 76 for serious traffic offences including drink driving and careless driving.
Another 49 have convictions for crimes of dishonesty or violence – eight of whom committed the offences while they were police officers and remain serving with the force.
Other crimes include drug possession, criminal damage and public order offences, and three serving officers have convictions for sexual offences.
The Commissioner said the figures were “troubling reading”.
So far of the 10,000 records that have been checked, 38 cases of potential misconduct have been uncovered and 55 where there is an off-duty association with a criminal.
The remainder of the records are due to have been checked by the summer.
Vetting rules have already been toughened up with officers and staff being revetted if their behaviour is of concern, for example following a criminal investigation or misconduct hearing where they stay in the job.
In the coming months, more than 100 individuals are expected to have their status reviewed, Sir Mark said.
The Commissioner also revealed that there have been 1,000 calls to a hotline allowing the public to report Met officers abusing their positions of trust.
These have resulted in 350 reports that are being responded to, and have already led to officers being arrested and suspended from duty.
Of the Met workforce of around 34,000 officers, 701 are currently on restricted duties.
“I have been clear that a relentless focus on improving standards and common sense policing is required.
“Sir Mark’s update on the work to root out unfit officers demonstrates the scale of this challenge but I have confidence in his plan to turn around the Met and ensure the force is delivering for the public.
“I am also driving forward work to review the police dismissals process to ensure the system is effective at removing officers who fall below the standards we expect.”