Baroness Casey review ‘a pivotal moment’ for all police forces, say PCCs

Police and crime commissioners (PCCs) believe the Baroness Casey review is “a pivotal moment” for all British police forces, not just the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Mar 22, 2023
By Paul Jacques
APCC chair Marc Jones

Many acknowledged that the review into “institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic” behaviour at the MPS will impact public confidence in policing outside of the capital.

Association of Police and Crime Commissioners chair Marc Jones said the need for “strong and effective public oversight and governance for policing across the whole of the UK has never been greater”.

Sussex PCC Katy Bourne said “when the Met sneezes, all other forces catch a cold because of its scale and impact in national headlines and public perception”.

And Hampshire and Isle of Wight PCC Donna Jones said the report was “shocking” but stressed vetting was “not the panacea to fixing policing issues” but it was professional standards departments that “hold the key to driving up standards”.

Mr Jones said: “This report makes for difficult and distressing reading and will undoubtedly shake the very foundations of the public’s trust and confidence in policing across the board.

“As the public’s representatives to policing we will not shy away from the hard truths in this significant report.

“It is time to shine a light on the darkest corners of unacceptable culture and practices within policing and other public service areas too. We will be reviewing it in detail and will work with our national partners to ensure any broader recommendations are acted on.

“The need for strong and effective public oversight and governance for policing across the whole of the UK has never been greater.

“Our priority as PCCs is to hold chief constables accountable on behalf of the public, to see trust and confidence in policing restored and retained. We will not falter in our determination to see them root out misogynistic, homophobic, and racist behaviour at the earliest opportunity.”

Ms Bourne said: “This looks like being a pivotal moment for the Metropolitan Police and, most likely, for all British police forces.

“Public confidence is already plumbing the depths and today’s publication of the Casey report could sink it for years to come. You can’t police with the public’s consent if you have lost their confidence and trust and too many awful cases of police abuse of authority, corruption and criminality are now permanently seared into the public’s memory.

“The foundations of British policing have been rocked and undermined. It will be a long climb out of the mire but we must give Sir Mark Rowley and Dame Lynne Owens the opportunity to root out those officers and staff who should be nowhere near a uniform, a warrant card or have access to firearms.”

“I have said before that, when the Met sneezes, all other forces catch a cold because of its scale and impact in national headlines and public perception.”

She added: “It is probably true that the Met serves too large a geographical area to provide a consistent level of neighbourhood policing across 32 boroughs – some of which would be better served by county forces. With over eight million residents to look after and countless visitors, it may well make sense to transfer some responsibilities to others and now is the time to begin that grown-up debate.

“We should acknowledge that the majority of the Met’s workforce are honest, professional and committed public servants but, like all forces, they are under exponentially increasing demand and public expectations.

“An example of the selfish attitude that pervades has seen them poaching officers from neighbouring forces with financial incentives, rather than focusing on attracting new entrants and making the Met the premier police force we all need it to be.

“We talk about police forces reflecting the communities they are drawn from but it doesn’t mean accepting that a certain proportion will be corrupt or incompetent. Police officers have powers that we don’t so they need to meet and uphold the highest standards.

“It will cost the Met and all forces to make the necessary changes and investment to widen diversity, to vet and re-vet officers and staff. That will take money and resources and valuable leadership time from senior officers…but we can’t afford not to. You can’t catch criminals with crooked cops.”

Kent PCC Matthew Scott said Baroness Casey’s report was a “watershed moment for London’s Metropolitan Police”.

But he said outside of London the report was also “a time for us all to reflect, to be sure that our vetting and standards continue to be rigorous, we root out corrupt and criminal individuals and the response to investigation of crime and antisocial behaviour gives the public confide”.

Mr Scott said the “clear and systemic failings that have been identified” at the MPS require urgent action.

“Confidence and trust has been lost. Too many people have been let down. And women and girls have not felt safe,” he added.

“There are thousands of police officers and staff in the Metropolitan Police still going out onto the streets of the capital today doing their best to keep the public safe, support victims and tackle crime. Their good service must continue to be recognised. They will be feeling let down by the actions of their colleagues too.

“However, too many people will recognise the behaviours and failures identified in the report, whether it is the toxic attitudes, criminal activity, defensiveness or institutional arrogance demonstrated by too many.

“The Commissioner is doing the right thing in taking these findings forward and using them as a catalyst for reform. We all need policing in London to succeed and Sir Mark must be given the opportunity to deliver it.

“If the change doesn’t follow, then the force should be broken up and restructured. There are functions that perhaps they don’t need to perform that could be delivered by others, whether it be national operations, support services or commercial activity.”

West Midlands PCC Simon Foster said the report was “deeply and profoundly damning”.

“In response, I will convene a West Midlands Police Public Accountability Forum at which West Midlands Police can explain to the public, key stakeholders and the media, in an open and transparent way, the work that is taking place within West Midlands Police to prevent and tackle any and all racism, misogyny, homophobia and corruption, and how we can do more in the light of Baroness Casey’s findings,” he said.

“All police officers, as is the case with any profession, have a duty to comply with the highest standards of conduct, ethics, integrity and professionalism. That is non-negotiable. If there are any police officers that are incapable of grasping or understanding that basic principle then they have no place in the police service.

“Equally, it is the responsibility of senior leaders within policing to ensure that there is no place whatsoever for racism, misogyny, homophobia or corruption within policing.

“The findings set out in the Casey Report evidence a lamentable failure of leadership, within the Metropolitan Police, over many years at the highest level.

“Since becoming PCC, compliance with professional standards in policing has been one of my top priorities. I am holding West Midlands Police to account to ensure it complies with vetting procedures, performance manages officers and staff, and deals with complaints and misconduct.

“The work on our joint Fairness and Belonging plan and the force’s programme to improve ethical standards and behaviours are all part of the action that is being taken.

“In addition, I am committed to constant and unremitting action to hold West Midlands Police to account, to ensure that the 43 recommendations set out in the report of His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services [on vetting, misconduct, and misogyny in the police service], dated November 2, 2022, are implemented and in particular unsuitable people are prevented from joining in the first place, any misconduct within the force is identified, and officers and staff are dismissed, if they are not fit to serve the public.

“That is because, firstly, they are failing to uphold the Declaration for Office of Constable; secondly, they are a serious risk to the public and their colleagues and cannot be trusted with the powers and responsibility that comes with being a police officer; and thirdly, they are undermining the police service and the vast majority of police officers who are professional, committed and dedicated to preventing crime, protecting people in need and helping the vulnerable.”

West Mercia PCC John Campion said he was “not reassured” that the examples of misogyny, homophobia and other abhorrent behaviour highlighted in the Baroness Casey report was not also happening within his own force.

“The Baroness Casey report, which shines a light on the standard of behaviour in the Met, makes for truly horrific reading.

“Whilst the findings are focused on the Met alone, there is no doubt that the concerns raised will impact public trust and confidence on policing as a whole.

“It is apparent that there has been a long line of senior police officers and mayors in London, presiding over this sorry state for too long, who have ultimately let down victims, the public and other officers who are committed to serving and protecting communities.

“The shocking crimes, included within the report, should have kickstarted change before now however it is apparent that hasn’t necessarily been the case. The Met, and other forces, cannot allow anything like this to continue to happen.

“I’m not reassured that the examples of misogyny, homophobia and other abhorrent behaviour, highlighted in the Casey Report, isn’t also happening within West Mercia Police.

“I will therefore continue to play my part, by supporting and holding West Mercia Police’s chief constable to account, to ensure this latest report is used to drive the change and bring the necessary reassurance in West Mercia.”

Merseyside’s PCC Emily Spurrell said there is no doubt the reverberations of Baroness Casey’s report will be felt across policing as a whole.

She said the findings were “deeply concerning and make for difficult reading”.

“It highlights significant failures, repeated missed opportunities to reform and reflects an organisation that no longer serves its communities,” said Ms Spurrell.

“While her findings are based on her extensive review of the Metropolitan Police, there is no doubt the reverberations will be felt across policing as a whole and it is vital that, as police leaders, we recognise the impact it will have on trust and confidence in policing across all our communities.

“It will also have a significant impact on all those working within policing who are working hard to prevent crime and keep people safe.

“This report highlights once again why public oversight and scrutiny in policing is critical, and why I have made it a cornerstone of my Police and Crime Plan.

“It is essential we ask the most challenging questions, ensuring robust action is being taken at every level to root out unacceptable behaviour and language.

“The chief constable is committed to ensuring Merseyside Police is transparent and accountable and she is driving forward a number of significant initiatives to make sure the right culture and ethos is embedded at every level across the force.

“That includes delivering both the Violence against Women and Girls action plan and Police Race Action Plan, fully reviewing the force’s recruitment and vetting processes, empowering staff to challenge any inappropriate behaviour and taking robust action when an individual does not meet the highest standards the public expect.

“I will continue to support and scrutinise this essential work to ensure Merseyside Police delivers the best possible service for all of our communities, as we continue to build a safer, stronger Merseyside.”

North Wales PCC Andy Dunbobbin said Baroness Casey’s report “has rightly been met with concern from both the public and those within the police service”.

“High standards and a culture that fosters openness, transparency and a commitment to public service are vital to our tradition of policing by consent,” he said.

“Within North Wales, I recently published a report looking at the prevalence of cases of misogyny in the force, the numbers of cases under investigation and the measures in place to protect the public and ensure the correct vetting of officers.

“I am reassured to see the force is acting to combat misogyny, but there is always more we can do to ensure the highest standards are met.

“The majority of officers strive every day to do the right thing and serve their communities, but I am determined to hold the police to account and will work with the chief constable and senior officers to ensure the measures they are putting in place make a difference.

“We must all do everything we can to make sure the people of North Wales have confidence in the officers and staff who are there to serve and protect us all.”

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight PCC said discrimination and the abuse of power in the Met “seem worse than ever”.

“The term ‘institutional racism’ again appears in Dame Casey’s report, but it has been 24 years since Sir William Macpherson’s landmark report into the death of Stephen Lawrence, so what has changed?” said Ms Jones,

“Much focus has been made on the national vetting review. Whilst vetting is an important part of pre-employment checks, it is not the panacea to fixing policing issues. It is but a snapshot in time.

“Re-vetting every three years is a sensible idea, but there will be consequences in coagulating an already slow and creaking system. Recent cases of David Carrick would not have been prevented by better vetting, but by the handling of complaints quicker when they were made.

“It is police standards departments that hold the key to driving up standards and expediting complaints when they are made; rooting out officers which bring this shame; who perpetuate this culture.

“These departments need a complete overhaul to remove rapists and murders from the streets of Britain, should they be hiding in police uniforms.

“They need leaders which command and practice integrity, not just talk about it. Every chief constable in the country should be looking at how much time their anti-corruption units are spending on proactive work, versus reactive work and the length of time to get cases through to conclusion.

“In her interim report published in November 2022, Baroness Casey concluded that on average it took the Met 400 days to conclude a case. Why? If they were a private sector organisation, you’d take your business somewhere else.

“Policing is one of the most important public service organisations. Policing by consent is the only plausible model, and so radical steps are now required to ensure public consent remains, especially in our capital city.”

Ms Jones added: “I have long called for a break-up of the Met. Not because I don’t have confidence in the determination or vision Sir Mark Rowley or in-fact the excellent Dame Cressida Dick before him, but because the force is too large and it will take too long.

“With the failings of the Mayor of London, whose ultimate responsibility it is to keep Londoners safe, and his invisible approach to the systemic failings in the Met, the only sensible option is to break the Met up into three or four smaller forces, and put them on track with others forces in the UK to make the streets of London safer.”

Warwickshire PCC Philip Seccombe said the Baroness Casey Review “makes for horrific reading”, not only in terms of the standards of behaviour it has uncovered within the MPS but also for “the impact these have on confidence in the police service more widely”.

He said every force needs to look at the findings of this report and “ask themselves whether any similar behaviours exist in their workforce”.

“Members of all communities will feel significantly let down and angered by the racism, sexism and homophobia the report highlights. So too will the many hardworking officers and staff within policing for whom such behaviour is totally abhorrent,” said Mr Seccombe.

“While the report raises significant questions about the culture and the leadership of the Met, there are cases of police abuse of authority, corruption and criminality which have emerged in forces all over the country, including examples from Warwickshire.

“It is therefore not enough to assume that it is only for the Met to fix its problems and that all will be well; every police force needs to look at the findings of this report and ask themselves whether any similar behaviours exist in their workforce.

“Only by doing so can the public have that full reassurance that misogynistic, homophobic, and racist behaviour is properly being rooted out at the earliest opportunity.

“I am committed to ensuring that the standards of behaviour within Warwickshire Police are at the very highest level and have supported the chief constable with increased resources each year to help drive forward change and reform. In return, it is my role to hold the chief constable to account and ask searching and sometimes difficult questions on behalf of residents, in order to obtain that reassurance and to help restore trust and confidence.

“That’s why I have already sought further information around the arrangements on police vetting from the chief constable and I will now be studying the recommendations of the Casey Review to understand how they may be applicable to us here in Warwickshire.

“Only by answering the legitimate questions that arise from such a damning assessment of behaviours can policing demonstrate that it really does have officers and staff of the highest calibre and that arrangements to protect the public from those who seek to subvert the system are robust and effective.”

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