The Casey report on the Metropolitan Police has landed, and it is as damning as anticipated. Commissioned following the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving Met officer Wayne Couzens, the report concludes the force is institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic and the public is being let down by a force that no longer has a functioning neighbourhood policing service. The author, Baroness Louise Casey, said:
Do I think that they should say they are institutionally racist? Yes, I do. Do I think they should say they are institutionally sexist? Yes, I know they are. Do I think they should say they are institutionally homophobic? Yes, I do.
However, speaking ahead of the release of the report, Sir Mark Rowley, the Met Commissioner, while he apologised for the numerous failings and accepted there was racism, misogyny and homophobia in the force, refused to use the term “institutional”, calling it ambiguous and political.
Former Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld, writing in the Mail, accepts the criticisms and, ironically, blames rampant wokery.
During my time in post for almost a decade from 2012, I could sense that in the sprawling mass of the capital, public confidence in the police was evaporating as violent crime worsened, corruption became rife and woke ideology triumphed, distorting everything from recruitment of officers to the fight against Islamist terrorism.
Believe me: we had our own difficulties in the Thames Valley, especially the activities of Asian grooming gangs. But they paled beside the rot that had clearly infested the Met.
As Baroness Casey’s report demonstrates, the Met’s performance has been dismal on almost every front. Despite the leadership’s obsession with ‘diversity’, racism, misogyny and homophobia are rampant, shattering public trust among the many vulnerable who most need an effective police force…
Why has the force so badly lost its way? Part of the answer, I believe, is that too many of those in senior positions are the products of progressive education peddled by woke university courses. They are more concerned with social engineering than with fighting crime.
Politically correct dogma not only weakens their own authority but also distorts vital policies on recruitment and promotion. The Met should, of course, be trying to attract more women and ethnic minorities so its workforce more closely mirrors the make-up of the capital.
But that does not mean that hiring new applicants should descend into a box-ticking exercise in identity politics – as it manifestly has.
In the vacuum created by weak leadership, an inevitable and ugly backlash against the woke agenda has also been allowed to flourish.
That helps to explain a bizarre paradox: the more the Met’s top brass fixates on wokeness, the more bigoted much of its workforce becomes.
Now, I’m not able to comment on most of the contents of the report, which is largely based on recollections from serving and former officers. I also have no interest in defending the Met or its officers. However, I will say I was surprised by how weak the evidence it presents for “institutional racism” was. The Telegraph summarises it as follows:
The report laid bare a culture of “overt” racism within the force, where the N-word was used, black officers were less likely to get promoted and were 81% more likely to find themselves in the misconduct system.
It warned that at the current rate of recruitment, it would take 39 years for the Met to reflect the diversity of the community that it polices.
Meanwhile, bacon was left inside a Muslim officer’s boots and a Sikh colleague had his beard cut as part of racist behaviour written off in the Metropolitan Police as “pranks” and “banter”, the review said.
Another Sikh officer’s turban was put into a shoe box because colleagues “thought it was funny”.
The report said racist and other discriminatory behaviour was often “tolerated, ignored or dismissed as ‘banter’”.
It detailed how one black officer, who worked for PaDP guarding a building, was referred to by his colleagues as a “gate monkey”, which he said he took as a racial slur.
One senior officer described how he was asked in a meeting last year: “Did you get to where you got because you are black?”
And the Mail summarises it as follows:
The review found the force was institutionally racist and had failed to tackle the ‘rot’ present for many years. Black officers were 81% more likely to be subject to a misconduct case than white officers.
One senior officer was openly asked in a large meeting in 2022: “Did you get to where you got to because you are black.”
And a black woman told the review: “You have to try and be invisible as a black woman… If you complain you get a reputation as being trouble and then supervisors try and pass you on to other teams.”
The 363-page report also acknowledged disproportionality – with black Londoners being “overpoliced”. It concluded there was a “wilful blindness” and continued failure by commanders at Scotland Yard to accept and to address racism.
As I say, I have no interest in defending the Met. But as examples illustrating “institutional racism” these seem weak. Racist banter is of course unacceptable, but it is also banter, and not by itself an indication of racist institutional behaviours. Likewise pranks: poor taste jokes may well be offensive, but they are typically intended to be japes – often meant as a form of bonding, especially by men – and are not by themselves an indication of ‘institutional racism’.
It is hard to know outside of context whether “gate monkey” is intended as a racial slur as the term ‘monkey’ to mean low level worker is standard slang in English and, in that usage, has no racial connotation. In general, the ‘monkey’ slur often occurs inadvertently (think Danny Baker and the royal baby or Alastair Stewart quoting Shakespeare) precisely because most people do not instinctively connect ‘monkey’ with black people, and the offence in such instances is almost always taken rather than given.
It has been pointed out many times that raw statistics like “black officers were less likely to get promoted and were 81% more likely to find themselves in the misconduct system” may be a reflection of underlying differences between the groups being compared rather than any discrimination. In addition, if the Met is preferentially recruiting black candidates to make up for a perceived deficit then, as with any system that prioritises other qualities over merit, standards may suffer. Similarly, being asked, “Did you get to where you got because you are black?” is not acceptable, but such thoughts are inevitable in a system that pushes ‘positive action’ on race. It is clearly not appropriate to vocalise them in a professional context, but you cannot introduce non-merit based systems and expect people not to harbour such thoughts.
The fact that “at the current rate of recruitment, it would take 39 years for the Met to reflect the diversity of the community that it polices” is (if true) surely more a reflection of the extraordinarily fast transformation of London in recent decades into a white minority city than the failings of the Met’s ability to attract and retain officers from ethnic minorities.
The wider context is also that London is a very troubled, divided city, the effective policing of which has immense challenges. Again, I have no interest in defending the Met, and do not doubt that it could be a much more effective police force. But there’s also no doubt that the job its officers have to do is hugely challenging.
It’s inevitable that this report will lead to calls for yet more diversity training for the police. But since the Met has subjected its officers to no shortage of such training in recent years, if the problems are, as Casey claims, as bad as ever then it clearly doesn’t work. Since there is also, as the Free Speech Union has noted, a free speech crisis in policing, with officers undergoing tens of thousands of hours of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) training but almost no training in free speech, the last thing we need is yet more police wokery. Whatever are the real problems in London policing, the solutions, if they exist, must lie elsewhere.