Met police

Portrait of the Week: Tory by-election misery, ‘jihad’ chants and emergency aid

Home Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, on his return from Israel (where he spoke with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister) and to Saudi Arabia (where he spoke with Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince), told the House of Commons: ‘Hamas is not only a threat to Israel, but to many others across the region. All the leaders I met agreed that this is a watershed moment. It’s time to set the region on a better path.’ Twelve Britons had died in the Hamas attack, and five were missing. Of the blast at Gaza’s al-Ahli hospital on 17 October, which killed numbers of people into the hundreds, he said it was likely to

David Carrick’s crimes show the Met needs a complete overhaul

The news that serving Met Police officer David Carrick has pleaded guilty to 49 sexual offences against women spanning more than two decades took me back to Leeds, 1981. My feminist group was aghast at the news that a young woman we knew had been raped in the back of a police van, but had been kicked out of the police station when she tried to report the crime – rather than being treated as a victim. What has changed in the four decades since then? As a feminist campaigner who has worked alongside police officers to share knowledge and expertise regarding sexual assault and domestic abuse, I can’t help

We need to talk about tasers

Donald Burgess is the latest Briton to die after being hit by a police taser. He won’t be the last, but the circumstances of his death underscore the need for a wider debate about conducted energy devices. Police were called to a care home in St Leonards-on-Sea on 21 June, where they found Burgess threatening staff with a knife. One officer sprayed him with PAVA, an incapacitant spray that the National Police Chiefs’ Council describes as ‘significantly more potent than CS’. The same officer then struck Burgess with a baton while another discharged a taser, sending an electric current coursing through the man’s neuromuscular system. He was then handcuffed and

Does the Met have a racism problem?

Back in the winter of 2012, a postal worker named Zac Sharif-Ali was taking a lunchtime stroll with his dog on Chiswick Common when he was stopped by a police officer named Duncan Bullock. PC Bullock was out for a lunchtime sandwich run himself, and apparently thought this might be a good opportunity to get his numbers up. Two birds with one stone, and all that. According to colleagues testifying to an Independent Office for Police Conduct investigation, he was enterprising in that way. ‘I remember that day PC Bullock had gone out for his sandwich, so I knew he would bring back a stop and search record form,’ the

Why the Met Police keeps failing

Much has been made of the decision to place the Metropolitan Police in what is often referred to as special measures, where it joins five other forces from England and Wales. The many ways in which the Met has fallen short have also been amply aired, from the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer to the botched investigation of serial killer Stephen Port, to the racist and sexist mindset laid bare at some London police stations. Many crime rates in the capital have been rising sharply, as – naturally – has public dissatisfaction. Nor should the blame game that has broken out between the Home Office and the

The Met’s partygate investigation was worth the cost

In many ways, it has been absurd to have police spend months (and £460,000) investigating birthday cakes, glasses of wine and garden parties. Lord Finkelstein, the Tory peer and commentator at the Times, has come out against it (‘Playing politics is no business of the police’) and the front page of yesterday’s Daily Mail lambasts the cost. I respectfully disagree. If partygate focuses political minds on the wisdom of lockdown rules, it’s well worth it. Keir Starmer and Danny Finkelstein both voted for Boris Johnson’s lockdown laws. If they now find the laws objectionable if used to investigate past offences by politicians: good. That ought to provide cause for reflection as

What’s going on with the Met and partygate?

I don’t understand the logic behind how the Met Police is conducting its probe into unlawful parties at Downing Street and the Cabinet Office. My confusion reached brain-aching proportions after my ITV colleague Anushka Asthana disclosed on Friday that officials had received fixed penalty notices – fines – for attending perhaps the most famous of all the Downing Street events, the Bring Your Own Booze garden party on 20 May 2020, revealed by an email leaked to ITV News. The point is that I know of at least two relatively junior officials who have been informed by the police that they’ve been fined. So there is no longer any doubt this

Dick’s departure is Sadiq Khan’s victory

Sadiq Khan forced Cressida Dick out of her job as Metropolitan Police chief. Both made that very clear this evening, with Dick saying ‘the mayor no longer has sufficient confidence in my leadership to continue’, while Khan said he was ‘not satisfied with the Commissioner’s response’ to his ultimatum for changing the Met’s culture of misogyny, racism, homophobia and bullying. The Met is clearly an institutional basket case The Mayor of London has played a political blinder on this. Unlike Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has the ultimate authority on the appointment — and exit — of the Commissioner, he has been quick to respond to last week’s report which revealed

Cressida Dick: I consider quitting ‘every few weeks’

It’s been a pretty awful year for the Metropolitan Police. Having been forced to apologise for Wayne Couzens’ murder of Sarah Everard in July, forced to apologise for their officers taking pictures of two murdered sisters in October and forced to apologise for failing Stephen Port’s victims in November, this week the Met was forced to apologise for officers sending ‘disgraceful’ abusive messages at Charing Cross police station. And let’s not forget the Met’s cack-handed last-minute intervention into Sue Gray’s inquiry which will now drag the partygate affair for weeks to come. In such circumstances it’s perhaps unsurprising that the scandal-ridden Met commissioner Cressida Dick sometimes thinks it’s time to pack it in. For Mr

Has Cressida bailed out Boris?

‘Wait for Sue Gray’ was the ministerial mantra last week. And wait, we all have, as the days have ticked by with no sign of her report into the lockdown parties allegedly held at No. 10. But now, after a week of stasis which has had Westminster on tenterhooks, Cressida Dick and the Met police have dropped another bombshell on a quiet Friday morning. Dick revealed on Tuesday that her officers would be launching a criminal investigation into ‘partygate,’ having previously ignored all calls to do so. And today the Met has issued a fresh statement, saying they want ‘minimal reference’ in Gray’s report to the No.10 parties which they’re

The Met must face the truth about Sarah Everard’s murder

‘We are sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s crimes which betray everything we stand for,’ said the Metropolitan Police in response to the sentencing of Wayne Couzens. He is the former police officer who, when in service, kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard, later setting fire to her body. The case in March sparked national outrage about the levels of male violence towards women and girls. Not only do significant numbers of police officers spectacularly fail women when it comes to sexual and domestic violence, but they commit these crimes themselves. The two things are connected. If male police officers see women as worthless, and if there is little

We’ll miss Cressida Dick when she’s gone

To all those – from Left and Right – joining in the clamour for Cressida Dick to resign as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, a pertinent question hangs in the air: Who would you hire to replace her and what good do you think it would do? If you are on the old-fashioned right of politics, you’d probably have in mind a figure in the mould of the no-nonsense former Commissioner Lord Stevens, a ‘copper’s copper’. If you are on the liberal left, you are much more likely to demand a ‘Common Purpose’ clone, steeped in the fashionable jargon of the College of Policing and identifying structural racism and non-crime

Who’s to blame for the Clapham Common debacle?

On Saturday evening, daughters, fathers and mothers of daughters and siblings of daughters gathered in Clapham Common at a vigil. Facing these police officers were hundreds of people seeking to remember Sarah Everard. What followed was a clash that turned what could have been a respectful memorial into a moment of apparently callous state repression threatening the future of the Met’s first female Commissioner, Cressida Dick. Dick has called out the armchair critics of her officers’ actions in Clapham. But make no mistake: the Met Police is in the dock. And Dick’s condemnation of those criticising her force won’t wash, either for politicians or the senior leadership of the Met, who jointly carry the can. 

Was the Clapham Common vigil unsafe? A look at the data

After facing widespread political condemnation, the Metropolitan Police has defended its handling of the Clapham Common vigil on public health grounds.  Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said that ‘Police must act for people’s safety, this is the only responsible thing to do. The pandemic is not over and gatherings of people from right across London and beyond, are still not safe.’ Putting aside the varying behaviour of the police at proests during the pandemic, it’s worth looking a bit more at her reasons. ‘Around 6pm, more people began to gather close to the bandstand within the Common. Some started to make speeches from the bandstand. These speeches then attracted more people to gather closer

Women have lost faith in the Metropolitan police

Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive living in Brixton, and a ‘wonderful daughter and sister’, was killed earlier this month. Last night, the women trying to remember Sarah at a vigil in Clapham Common were dragged and arrested by Metropolitan police officers. Not only did this show poor judgement, it was an unnecessary and careless use of force. Sarah Everard was just trying to walk home, the women out last night were just trying to mourn her. The Met’s chief, Cressida Dick, said after Sarah Everard’s disappearance that ‘Every woman should feel safe to walk our streets without fear of harassment or violence.’ Yet on Saturday night, her officers disturbed

It’s too early to call for Cressida Dick’s scalp

Politics, at its most pathetic, is the Downing Street pack screaming at Prime Ministers, ‘Will you resign?’. At its best, politics and political journalism build up an unanswerable case against a miscreant and take a scalp. The scenes at Clapham Common, last night, were shocking. I have, however, worked in TV news for long enough to know that the cutting room is a minefield. As with vox-pops, the selection and rejection of pictures and voices is one of the most powerful editorial forces in a newsroom. I wasn’t at Clapham Common last night, nor were most in the mass-ranks of social media. Suffice to say, what I saw on social