One of Britain’s most senior police officers has warned that people will be put off joining the service after a damning review exposed shocking behaviour and culture within the Met’s ranks.
Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said the scathing findings of the Casey review could cause young women to fear what they could be “subject” to if they decided to become a police officer and cause anyone to question whether they want to do such a job.
The report by Baroness Louise Casey, commissioned in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder, found the Metropolitan Police is institutionally racist, misogynist and homophobic and laid bare a slew of troubling incidents.
When her findings were published on Tuesday, she also warned there may be more officers like killer Wayne Couzens and serial rapist David Carrick.
“I think anybody will think, is that an organisation I want to go and work with?
“If you are from any sort of group that feels, from listening to the report that you know, the treatment will be different…
“A young woman now will be thinking, what am I going to subject myself to if I go and work in that organisation?
“I think we’ve got to accept, but it’s why we’ve got to redouble our efforts on all the things that we’re doing. It’s why we’ve got to be as overt as we can be about what we’re doing and demonstrating what we’re doing.”
Speaking before he leaves his role at the end of March, Mr Hewitt said: “To become a police officer, you are taking a step over a line to become a police officer.
“For someone like me, a white, heterosexual man, that was still a step over a line to say do I want to go and do that? Do I want to subject myself to the kind of restrictions that places but never thinking well am I not going to be treated fairly when I joined the organisation?
“If you’re a 20-year-old black man from Tottenham, for example, that is a massive line to consider stepping over. The impact that is going to have on what your family think about that, what your friends think about that… that is a very, very significant step for someone to take.”
Forces “need people from all parts of society to come and be police officers, but let’s not pretend that’s not going to be difficult because it really is going to be difficult”, Mr Hewitt said, adding: “We’ve tried all sorts of kinds of ways and tried to be innovative – particularly during all the recruitment work that we’ve done under the 20,000 (Government campaign to hire more officers).”
Earlier this week, Baroness Casey suggested other forces in England and Wales should carry out similar reviews but Mr Hewitt said he was “not convinced that is necessary”, adding: “Every police force is looking, and has been looking, at itself post the revelations from both Couzens and from Carrick, and of course, every single police force is using the findings of the Casey review to look hard and close at themselves and understand what the situation is within their organisation.”
“I know that every single chief… will be looking at what that review is saying,” he added.
“But all the points of culture processes are relevant for every force and every force is looking at that.”
Facing questions over whether police should accept the phrase “institutional” to describe the failings set out in the Casey review, he branded it a “very divisive” term that is often “misinterpreted”, warning that using it could mean “nuance gets lost”.
But he stressed police acknowledge “all of those discriminatory behaviours exist to some extent”.
“But the words and having programmes is not ever going to be enough for the public and it’s really going to be about – as we try and recover the trust and confidence that the service has lost – it’s about people seeing and feeling… that we are understanding more about our staff, we are checking the intelligence, the information we’ve got around our staff and then we’re dealing with those issues,” he added.
Describing how his departure, amid a series of police scandals, was tinged with “sadness”, he said: “I hate when you hear those stories, it makes me angry and it makes me upset and there’s no doubt, leaving now, there’s a sadness to how I feel about the service.
“It will improve, we will get better, people will do what we need to do, but it is leaving me with a bit of a sadness as I go, if I’m perfectly honest.”
In his near-30 years of service, he also told how he never felt “shame at being a police officer” until the day he learned Ms Everard had been killed by a serving officer.
During the wide-ranging briefing he called for an “inflationary” pay rise for officers to help retain and recruit staff and also admitted he is “more worried” about his children “sat on their own in their room on a laptop” than if they are outside – because it is “pretty safe and they are pretty streetwise”, adding: “They are actually probably more vulnerable there (online)”.