Just when you think it can’t get any worse for the Metropolitan Police, it does.
Baroness Casey’s excoriating report — describing Scotland Yard as ‘broken’ and its ‘rotten’ ranks riven with racism, misogyny and homophobia — has shocked many.
As someone who has reported extensively on the sad decline of this once-great police force over the past two decades or more, I am not one of them.
Indeed, to the charge sheet could easily be added allegations of institutional cover-up, arrogance and nepotism.
This report has been a long time coming and I fear that her devastating dossier marks the beginning of the end. How sad for the many thousands of brilliant, brave men and women who serve in the capital that it has come to this.
Turning the tide may simply be beyond anyone, including current Yard boss Sir Mark Rowley, the seventh person to occupy the hot seat in Britain’s biggest force since I began reporting on crime for the Mail in the mid-1990s.
That period covers a series of major policing scandals — not least the bungled Stephen Lawrence murder investigation, which led to the damning Macpherson Inquiry which accused the Met of being ‘institutionally racist’.
Ian Blair’s promotion in 2005 to Commissioner — he succeeded the buccaneering, ‘copper’s copper’ Sir John (now Lord) Stevens — was controversial from the start
Baroness Casey’s excoriating report — describing Scotland Yard as ‘broken’ and its ‘rotten’ ranks riven with racism, misogyny and homophobia — has shocked many
READ MORE: 30 years after my Stephen’s murder, the Met is still rotten to the core: Baroness Lawrence insists nothing will change until police accept they are institutionally racist
Baroness Lawrence (pictured) whose 18-year-old son was killed by racist white thugs in 1993, warned ‘this is the last chance for the Metropolitan Police to get it right’
Another corporate disgrace was the jailing of the corrupt Met commander Ali Dizaei, for so long appeased by weak and ambitious senior officers who were afraid to get tough with a bully who would cynically play the race card at the first sign of trouble for him.
There was also the damaging fallout from the fatal police shooting of the innocent Brazilian, Jean Charles de Menezes, mistaken for a terrorist, and the appalling blunders that failed to prevent the savage sex killing of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common.
More recently, there has been the VIP abuse inquiry scandal involving the serial liar Carl ‘Nick’ Beech, and more disclosures about the ugly police corruption that for decades has marred the investigation into the axe murder of private detective Daniel Morgan.
But it is the controversies involving predatory officers such as Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens and the serial rapist David Carrick that have taken things to a new level.
Baroness Casey holds that no single Met chief is responsible for the force’s decline. I agree. She is right to say successive Met commissioners had ‘failed to ensure the integrity of its officers and the organisation’.
However, some have been more culpable than others and the beginning of the rot can be traced to the appointment of Left-leaning Sir Ian (now Lord) Blair, a man who was woke before woke was invented.
Boris Johnson, then London Mayor, was right to sack him in 2008.
Ian Blair’s promotion in 2005 to Commissioner — he succeeded the buccaneering, ‘copper’s copper’ Sir John (now Lord) Stevens — was controversial from the start.
A man dubbed ‘New Labour’s favourite policeman’ because of his perceived allegiances, Blair put politics into policing like never before. He was a proto-type for the new breed of chief constable, many of whom reach the top through who they know, not what they know.
When a cash-for-honours investigation into the Labour Government became inevitable, Blair reportedly said: ‘I can’t be involved in it. I am too close to Tony Blair.’
Turning the tide may simply be beyond anyone, including current Yard boss Sir Mark Rowley
Baroness Casey holds that no single Met chief is responsible for the force’s decline. She is right to say successive Met commissioners had ‘failed to ensure the integrity of its officers and the organisation’
It is the controversies involving predatory officers such as Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens (left) and the serial rapist David Carrick (right) that have taken things to a new level
During the May 2005 general election campaign he allowed police Range Rovers carrying the Prime Minister to display ‘Vote Labour’ slogans. At the same time he was lobbying hard for the Labour Government’s new terror plans and introduction of ID cards.
Ian Blair was keen to surround himself with people who shared his enthusiasm for diversity and the ‘gender agenda’ in the Met, including his protege, an up-and-coming commander called Cressida Dick.
But within months, the diversity policy had got him into trouble. Three white officers, whose until-then-distinguished careers had included bravery awards, blamed ‘political correctness’ after being reprimanded over alleged racism.
One had mispronounced Shi’ites as ‘shi**ies’ and described a Muslim woman’s headgear as ‘tea cosies’. The officers won their employment tribunal while Blair denied hanging the trio out to dry.
In January 2006, Commissioner Blair was forced to apologise after claiming nobody could understand why such a fuss was made about the murders of the Soham school girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. His reason? The media was institutionally racist. If the girls had been black, nobody would have cared, he implied.
Boris Johnson, then London Mayor,(left) was right to sack Lord Ian Blair (right) in 2008 writes Stephen Wright
When Blair resigned, having lost the confidence of Johnson, it marked the end of one of the most tumultuous periods in the Met’s history. Those who loved the force hoped it would be a passing phase. But things have only deteriorated further.
Ian Blair was succeeded by his deputy Sir Paul Stephenson, a highly capable former chief constable who resigned over the News of the World phone hacking scandal.
After his exit, Bernard (now Lord) Hogan-Howe — a former Merseyside chief constable with influential supporters in the Tory Party — was next in the Commissioner’s chair and ruthlessly set about restructuring the Met. He banned informal contact between detectives and journalists, making holding the force to account infinitely more challenging.
He made questionable senior appointments and jumped before he would inevitably have been pushed over the Met’s woeful Operation Midland inquiry into the allegations made by Carl Beech.
The next appointment as Met chief — Cressida Dick — in 2017 only accelerated the decline.
As the Met’s first female boss, Dick enjoyed an extended honeymoon period. But concerns about her hands-off, aloof style and questionable judgment began to emerge in 2019.
The next appointment as Met chief — Cressida Dick — in 2017 only accelerated the decline
In 2021, Dame Cressida and the Met were back in the news again when she was quick to dismiss the key findings of an eight-year inquiry into the unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan
When I started writing critically about Scotland Yard, there was an outcry from her loyalists who briefed against me for, in their view, running a one-man campaign against her and the force. I wonder what they are thinking today.
Two years ago, the widow of ex-home secretary Leon Brittan — falsely accused of being a child sex murderer by Beech — told the Mail that a ‘culture of cover-up and flick-away’ existed in the Met and that senior officers lacked a moral spine. Again, the Met refused to accept justified criticism.
In 2021, Dame Cressida and the Met were back in the news again when she was quick to dismiss the key findings of an eight-year inquiry into the unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan. The inquiry criticised her personally and branded the Met ‘institutionally corrupt’ in the way it concealed or denied failings over Morgan’s killing.
Some 18 months ago, the Mail brought together a panel of victims of alleged Met corruption, incompetence and malpractice for a joint interview.
They included Lady Brittan, Baroness Lawrence (mother of murdered teenager Stephen) and the son of D-Day hero the late Field Marshal Lord Bramall — another falsely accused by Beech. The brave former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, also wrongly accused by Beech, was there, too.
The panel of victims included Baroness Lawrence, the mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence
In an open letter to then Prime Minister Boris Johnson, they demanded an overhaul of the Met’s senior team and ‘urgent and long-overdue’ reform of the police complaints system. For Cressida Dick, the writing was on the wall and she was forced to resign months later.
As someone who has dozens of friends, past and present, who have served in the Met, it gives me no pleasure to see the force’s demise. And I hope that Sir Mark Rowley can deliver on his promise to reform it.
It is only through strong leadership — that addresses all the Casey criticisms — and by cutting crime that he can succeed and the Met survive.