Staff writer Lily Powell explores some of the contemporary controversies surrounding the Met Police in the aftermath of the Casey review.
Editor’s note: This article discusses cases of sexual abuse, rape and murder.
The ‘one bad apple’ defence has been knocked out of the park by the 363-page Casey review, bringing the Metropolitan Police Service’s (the Met) string of scandals regarding the sexual misconduct and toxic culture of their officers to the forefront. While the Met is no stranger to controversy, the lack of accountability is being called into question with over 110 of the force’s police officers refrained from holding public-facing roles, pending investigations over these allegations. As the erosion of public trust in the constabulary persists, the question remains, who do you tell when the crimes committed against you are police-perpetrated?
Police Brutality – It’s Not in the Job Description
“Getting a woman into bed is like spreading butter. It can be done with a bit of effort using a credit card, but it’s quicker and easier just to use a knife”. These words are not the work of anonymous incels behind a computer, found in the darkest corners of the internet, but the standard content of WhatsApp messages exchanged between the Metropolitan Police Officers who patrol our streets.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) Report revealed these sickening messages sent between seven officers who were working for the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). This ‘laddish banter’ incorporates ‘jokes’ about rape, domestic abuse, racism, homophobia and sexual violence. A few examples of the inappropriate messages include:
“A black eye usually makes her see things your way”;
“Jon’s secret of how to groom the young hot foreign girls”;
“Single mothers with kids matching every element of the dulux colour chart”; and
“Cover yourself in marmite and you might tick the right diversity boxes too”.
In December 2022 a gross misconduct hearing found cases against all six officers in the WhatsApp group chat, with the seventh officer being subject to different criminal proceedings. The investigation was instigated by a conduct referral from the MPS in April 2021 after a download of Wayne Couzens’ phone data following his arrest for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard on March 4, 2021. The IOPC believed that “these incidents are not isolated or simply the behaviour of a few bad apples” having reviewed over 6,000 WhatsApp messages. The team at Charing Cross Police Station has since disbanded, having all been dismissed for breaching police standards of professional behaviour for discreditable conduct; authority; respect and courtesy; challenging and reporting improper conduct; and equality and diversity.
Quick, Call the Cops!
Where exactly should we turn for help when the oppression and threat we face comes from those whose “mission is to make London a safer place for everyone”.
Once again, the Met Police culture is called into question through the case of David Carrick, shaking the public perception of the police as our protectors. On 7 February 2023, elite Metropolitan Police officer David Carrick pleaded guilty to 49 offences against 12 different women, including rape, sexual assault, false imprisonment and coercive behaviour. He received 36 life sentences for his crimes against women and will serve a minimum of 30 years’ imprisonment.
There is reason to believe that more people have been effected than just those who have been identified so far; other potential victims are being urged to come forward. A woman spoke out about her experience, stating that Carrick restrained her and coerced her into staying in a relationship by threatening to plant drugs in her car, because “who would they believe?”. It appears to be a common theme that Carrick “flashed his police warrant card to make the [women] feel safe”, but with 48 counts of rape against his name, making him one of the worst sex offenders in modern UK history, the officer did anything but make these victims feel safe.
Farah Nazeer, the Chief Executive for Women’s Aid, has spoken out about this sentencing stating, “it will not restore the grave lack of trust that women currently have in the police and criminal justice system to protect them”. Nazeer critiqued the institution and remarked that a “complete, systemwide holistic reform of the police and across all sectors of the justice system [is needed] to ensure women are protected from predatory men”. For too long, police violence towards women has gone unnoticed by those with the power to make the much needed changes. The institutional culture of misogyny and racism within the force has allowed perpetrators to build a status behind which they can commit these crimes.
A statement from the Solicitor General on the case stated that “the fact he acted with apparent impunity – as though his status as a serving police officer made him untouchable – is a particularly disturbing factor”.
Unfortunately, this is not the first notorious instance of a Met officer abusing their power. On 3 March 2021, Sarah Everard was abducted, raped and then murdered when intercepted by then Met Police officer Wayne Couzens on her walk home. Video footage showed Couzens using his police ID to falsely handcuff and arrest Everard, having hired a car and purchased adhesive tape before going out and “hunting for a lone young female to kidnap and rape”.
A passer-by thought she was witnessing an “undercover police officer” arresting a woman who presumably “must have done something wrong” and not the beginning of a crime which sparked national protest over womens’ ability to walk the streets of Britain safely. CCTV footage shows Couzens buying a Bakewell tart the day after dumping Ms Everard’s body in the countryside and in the days following he took his wife and children on a day trip, where he returned to the scene to burn Ms Everard’s body. This is a stark reminder that these officers return to their daily lives and continue to exercise their powers after committing atrocious crimes against members of the public that they are sworn by oath to protect under the Police Reform Act 2002.
The Bad Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree
While the general public only hears reports in the media of the ‘bad apple’ of the Met Police, there are over 1,600 cases of alleged sexual offences involving Met Police officers and staff under investigation from the last ten years.
Cases of rape and murder are overshadowing convictions of false imprisonment; the public are too often desensitised to crimes committed by those who are supposed to protect us, and the media can only attribute the issue so much attention. Sam Grigg, former Met Police officer from Twickenham, was imprisoned for duct taping his flatmate in their shared kitchen and convincing her that she was about to be raped.
On 2 December 2022, at 2pm, Griggs taped his flatmate’s mouth, hands and feet for “10 minutes of terror” in a quest to satisfy his sexual urges while their other flatmates were out of the house. When threatened with being reported, Griggs remarked, “Who are you going to tell? I am the police”; this is the chilling reality faced by victims of harassment and sexual misconduct carried out by police officers in abuse of their power. When Griggs came before the court, his ex-girlfriend told the judge that he “got a kick out of arresting women as it was a form of restraint”.
There is no doubt that there is something very corrupt and rotten going on within the Metropolitan Police Force. Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley confessed, “We weren’t rigorous enough in our approach and as a result we missed opportunities to identify the warning signs”. The force ignored eight warnings about David Carrick, and allowed Wayne Couzens to continue in his position after police failed to act in response to his three incidents of indecent exposure only months prior to murdering Sarah Everard. There are clearly systematic failures at play here, with decades of warning signs and reports going unnoticed. A victim of Couzens’ indecent exposure stated that when she reported her crime, she did not feel as if it was taken seriously and “there were opportunities to identify [Couzens] and they were not taken”.
The Home Office has asked all police forces to check their staff against national police databases to identify any predators who might have “slipped through the net”. It has become apparent, even to those who run our country, that the Met is institutionally sexist. These rapists and murderers have hidden within the ranks of Britain’s biggest police force for too long and, with a culture of impunity for offending officers with behaviour going unchallenged, it is time for reform.
Don’t Let the Criminals Get Away
With the Casey report causing a stir throughout the UK, it seems that the ‘dark corner’ of the Met where Wayne Couzens worked has filled the entire room. This is just the beginning wave of scandals, as more will inevitably emerge with the rigorous re-vetting of officers to come as one of the many measures implemented in order to unroot those who are corrupting the system’s integrity. As confidence levels in the force plummeting further, the Met continue to fight an uphill battle in police reform. The public are finally understanding that it’s not just one bad apple, but an entirely rotten core.