Rishi Sunak Says There Is "No Need" For National Vetting System In Police Recruitment
A new report has found structural issues in the Met relating to misogyny, racism and homophobia (Alamy)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said there is “no need” to back the Labour Party’s proposal of a national vetting system for police services across the UK, after a report has found deep rooted issues with misogyny, racism and homophobia in the Metropolitan Police.
A damning new report into the Met, led by Baroness Louise Casey, detailed numerous case studies of sexual assaults on female staff and examples of excessive use of stop and search powers against black people.
Casey identified “systemic and fundamental” problems in how the Met is run and showed that public trust in the police has been severely damaged by a string of misconduct scandals.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday afternoon, Labour leader Keir Starmer called on the government to support Labour’s plan for mandatory national vetting in police services in response to the report.
“Nobody reading the Casey report can be left in any doubt about how serious this is or doubt for a second that it's restricted to the Met,” Starmer said.
“The report lays bare how those unfit to join the police are aided by patchwork vetting systems that leave the door open.
“If the government backs Labour's plan for proper mandatory national vetting, we could end the farce that sees different police recruitment standards in different forces.”
Sunak, however, insisted the government is already working to tackle the issues outlined in the report.
“There's no need for that, because we're already taking action to tackle the issues that are raised in the Casey report,” the Prime Minister told MPs.
He highlighted that the College of Policing is currently updating the statutory Code of Practice for police officer vetting and that all police forces are in the process of checking their officers against the police national database.
Starmer criticised this approach, pointing out that these measures are not mandatory.
“No wonder the Casey report criticised what she calls the government's hands off attitude to policing over the last 13 years,” the Labour leader said.
“But let's call it what it really is: sheer negligence.”
Starmer also said the report exposes “chronic failures” by the police to deal with rape cases, while the government still has not backed Labour's plan to have specialist rape and serious sexual offences units in every police force.
Sunak responded by saying that the primary accountability for the Met sits with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
"The government published an ambitious rape review action plan. And since 2010, we've quadrupled funding for Victim Support Services," the Prime Minister added.
"That is a Conservative government doing everything we can to support victims and tackle predators."
Baroness Casey, who has previously led a number of high profile investigations, appeared at the London Assembly policing and crime committee on Wednesday morning to warn that the report had shown the protection of women and children had been “thrown out the window” and that the problems in the Met are "institutional".
Met Police Commissioner Mark Rowley said this week that he "absolutely accepts" the findings of the report but has refused to use the term “institutionally racist”.
Speaking at the committee, Casey criticised Rowley’s position, but said she appreciates the findings are “difficult” for him to respond to.
“If you take all of that together, this is the moment to say... this is institutional, it’s organisational, and then you can move on to have a more straightforward and direct discussion with the people of London,” Casey said.
“I know Mark Rowley. He’s a man of utter decency and integrity so we need to give him time. I appreciate that this is difficult.”
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