Met Police chief admits force employs 'hundreds' of corrupt officers

New Met Police chief admits the force employs ‘hundreds’ of racists, misogynists and convicted criminals and would SACK hundreds of officers if he could

  • Sir Mark Rowley complained about rules that stop him sacking officers himself 
  • Told MPs there were ‘hundreds’ of officers who shouldn’t be serving in the force
  • Only option was to ‘put restrictions on them’ to protect colleagues and public

The Metropolitan Police is harbouring ‘hundreds’ of racists, misogynists and convicted criminals who cannot be fired due to weak misconduct procedures, its new commissioner admitted today.

Sir Mark Rowley complained he was unable to purge the force of its ‘toxic minority’ of ‘corrupt’ officers because of rules that force him to defer decisions about sackings to independent panels. 

‘I’ve got tens of thousands of great people and hundreds of people who shouldn’t be with me,’ he told the Home Affairs Select Committee.  

‘We have police officers who have gained serious criminal convictions whilst being police officers that we can’t sack. We’re having to put restrictions on them to reduce the damage they can do as leaders or in terms of serving the public.

‘The final word for removing a police officer doesn’t sit with me. It sits with independent tribunals who I’d say don’t have the same interest in the quality of policing in London as I do.’

Sir Mark Rowley said he was unable to purge the force of this ‘toxic minority’ because of rules that prevent him from firing staff himself

During today’s session, Sir Mark also told MPs –  

  • The Met is being held back by red tape, bureaucracy and too much time being spent on dealing with mentally ill people; 
  • Britain’s biggest force is ‘definitely’ in a worse state than when he last served in it four years ago;   
  • He will adopt a ‘counter-terrorism’ approach to sexual offenders to target ‘many tens of thousands of potential predators’; 
  • ‘Grey areas’ in legislation are hindering officers ability to crack down on disruptive protests; 
  • He’d support keeping the M25 open when Just Stop Oil protesters chain themselves to gantries but cannot due to road chiefs’ concerns about safety;
  • More than 10 per cent of police officers cannot be deployed on active duties due to illness or misconduct proceedings; 
  • Stop and search is not unfairly targeting black men because, in London, they are 12 times more likely to be murdered than young white men;
  • More than 16 police officers are being assaulted by the public every day. 

Sir Mark said Home Secretary Suella Braverman was ‘open’ to the idea of giving him the power to fire officers himself.  

He told MPs: ‘You are holding me to account vigorously for the quality of policing in London, which is reasonable. But it seems unfair that you do that and I don’t have these leaders and I have officers I can’t remove.

 ‘If I was head of John Lewis I’d be able to decide who my team were, while as Commissioner of the Met I don’t have quite the final say in it – that seems odd.   

‘It seems the Home Secretary is persuaded by the principle of the argument and is looking at whether any fast changes to regulations can be made.’

Sir Mark’s predecessor Dame Cressida Dick was forced to resign earlier this year after a raft of scandals, including the revelation of racist, misogynist and homophobic messages that were shared by officers at Charing Cross police station.  

Other disturbing cases included the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving officer Wayne Couzens, the strip search of Team GB sprinter Bianca Williams and the sacking of two officers for sharing pictures of the bodies of murder victims Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry. 

Sir Mark, who retired as the Met’s head of anti-terror operations in 2018 before returning as commissioner this year, said the force was ‘definitely’ in a worse state than when he left it. 

He said senior officers had failed to act ‘vigorously’ enough against corrupt and incompetent officers, with just 40 to 50 sackings each year on average. 

‘It should be hundreds,’ he said, before suggesting that the people who were ‘getting off lightly’ were ‘largely white men behaving badly to black and female colleagues’. 

Sir Mark said Home Secretary Suella Braverman was ‘open’ to the idea of giving him the power to sack officers directly

Sir Mark was also questioned about how the Met is policing protests by campaign groups including Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil. 

These stunts have caused massive disruption over recent months, with activists chained to motorway gantries leading to the closure of major arterial routes like the M25. 

The Met chief said cracking down on these protests was difficult due to MPs leaving ‘grey areas’ in the legislation.  

‘The 1986 Public Order Act creates some thresholds for police intervention around the phrase serious interruption to the life of a community – that has never been defined,’ he said. 

‘That’s further complicated by the Human Rights Act which creates principles around rights including freedom of speech. So every time police intervene they have to balance all those.’ 

Asked about the criticism officers have faced for taking too long to remove protesters blocking roads, he said: ‘Legally we can’t interpret the offence of highway obstruction alone, we have to balance it with the Human Rights Act. 

‘And the case law says some highway disruption is perfectly legal when it comes to protest.’

Sir Mark revealed he would support a policy of simply leaving Just Stop Oil protesters chained to motorway gantries and allowing traffic to continue flowing.  

‘I’m completely up for that, but National Highways feel there is a safety risk and that’s their call,’ he said. 

Sir Mark revealed he would support a policy of simply leaving Just Stop Oil protesters chained to motorway gantries and allowing traffic to continue flowing. Pictured: An incident on the M25 earlier this month 

‘I can understand that, because they’re concerned more about drivers being distracted than the individuals. And they have more knowledge about that.

‘I would love to ignore all these characters but it’s not always possible.’

Later, Sir Mark clashed with veteran Labour MP Diane Abbott over stop and search. 

Asked why young black men were being disproportionately affected by the policy, he said: ‘Sadly, young black men in London are twelve times more likely to be murdered than young white men – and those are figures from the last decade,’ he said. 

‘So our efforts to protect those young men mean we are going to put more stop and search in areas with high crime. 

‘That isn’t an excuse though for not working with communities in a way that builds trust – clearly we’re not doing that at the moment.’  

He also revealed that more than 10 per cent of police officers cannot currently be deployed on the front line due to sickness or misconduct investigations. 

‘That number concerns me because it affects the quality of policing for Londoners,’ he said. 

‘Some of that you wouldn’t want to change – such as officers who are disabled after being injured on duty – but a lot of them are people in the middle of misconduct processes or with checkered sickness records.’  

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