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What Does It Mean That The Met Police Have Been Placed In ‘Special Measures’?

3 min read

The police watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has announced they will place Britain’s largest police force – the Metropolitan Police – into special measures following a string of high-profile incidents and “systemic” failings.

Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott told PoliticsHome the move is “long overdue”.

“This government and the Home Secretary bear a great deal of responsibility for all this, fighting to keep Cressida Dick in post and never uttering a word of criticism in any of these cases,” she said.  

“Root and branch change is now necessary.” 

In a letter to the force seen by The Guardian, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary for London, Matt Parr, outlined that scandals such as the murder of Sarah Everard, the strip search of the young Black child known as Child Q and the failings in the Stephen Port case had a “chilling effect on public trust and confidence in the Met”. 

Parr stated the Met had also overseen a fall below national standards for the handling of emergency and non-emergency calls and had a “barely adequate standard of crime recording accuracy" with an estimated 69,000 crimes going unrecorded each year.

As a result, HMICFRS will now monitor the Met via their “Engage process” which involves additional oversight, scrutiny, and support to aid improvements. The process is used in extreme cases when the watchdog believes a force has failed to respond adequately or timeously to established concerns. Prior to the Met, the measures had been used on Greater Manchester Police in 2020 and Cleveland Constabulary in 2019.

It is likely that the Met will now be tasked with publishing an improvement action plan and will face regular inspections.

The move has been welcomed by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who said in a statement it was clear the force was “falling short” of expectations and expected the Met to take immediate action to remedy the issues.

It is unlikely the move will impact the timetable to recruit a new Met Commissioner, however, with Patel stressing the process was already “well underway” and she had made clear the successful candidate would need to “demonstrate sustained improvements in the Metropolitan Police Service in order to regain public trust both in London and across the country".

In April the Met’s first female and LGBT Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, was forced to stand down after the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan withdrew his support following a string of blunders.

Khan insists that “root and branch reforms” are now necessary, and the new Commissioner must work for “systemic change to the Met’s performance and culture”.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: "We recognise the cumulative impact of events and problems that the Met is dealing with. We understand the impact this has had on communities, and we share their disappointment.

We are determined to be a police service Londoners can be proud of. We are talking to the Inspectorate about next steps."

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