The Metropolitan Police—Britain’s largest police force—is to be placed under special measures following a number of failings, including the murder of Sarah Everard, the Stephen Port inquiry, and the strip search of Child Q.
Inspectors have raised “systemic concerns” about the Met, including its substandard response to emergency calls, “barely adequate” crime recording, and a backlog of child abuse referrals. In a statement released on Tuesday (June 28), Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) stated the move was to help support the Met Police in order to regain public trust. The body said: “We can confirm that we are now monitoring the Metropolitan Police Service through our Engage process, which provides additional scrutiny and support to help it make improvements.”
According to the policing watchdog’s website, a force enters the process if it is “not responding to a cause of concern, or if it is not succeeding in managing, mitigating or eradicating the cause of concern.” This means the Metropolitan Police will have to report to inspectors more regularly and may even be asked to meet specific crime-fighting targets. Referring to the “special measures” the Met has been placed under, Priti Patel said: “It is clear the Metropolitan Police service is falling short. I expect the police to get the basics right, which is why I support the action that HMICFRS has taken today to highlight their failings—and I expect the Met and the London Mayor to take immediate action to begin addressing them.” The Home Secretary also stated that the process of recruiting a new commissioner was “well underway” and that the successful candidate would demonstrate significant levels of improvement.
The family of Child Q, who was strip searched by male police officers whilst menstruating , welcomed the decision. They said in a statement: “The Metropolitan Police has shown time and again that it cannot do its job properly and its officers’ actions have had life-changing, devastating consequences for innocent people across London, including Child Q. It is no wonder that there is little to no faith left in the Metropolitan Police. We hope the additional scrutiny of special measures will result in permanent change in the force’s culture and practices.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “I will work with HMIC and will hold the Met to account in delivering the police reforms and step change in policing performance and culture that all our communities deserve.”
The special measures decision has come at a turbulent time for the force after former Met Police chief Dame Cressida Dick stepped down from her role as commissioner in April. Her replacement is expected to be unveiled in the summer, with Sir Stephen House currently running the force as acting commissioner.