A former homelessness and anti-social behaviour tsar who headed part of the Rotherham grooming inquiry will lead an independent review into the Met in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder.
Under-fire commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, who is resisting calls to resign, said today she was ‘delighted’ to announce Louise Casey, Baroness Blackstock, will be in charge of an ‘independent and far-reaching review’ lasting an estimated six months.
She said: ‘She will be looking at our vetting, our recruitment, our leadership, our training and all manner of processes to see how they reinforce the best possible standards.
‘She’ll make a public report, and public recommendations, so that we can improve and make sure that the public have more confidence in us.’
Baroness Casey said: ‘Trust is given to the police by our, the public’s, consent. So any acts that undermine that trust must be examined and fundamentally changed’
Dame Cressida said Baroness Casey – who has been leading an inquiry into how England yobs were able to break into Wembley during the Euros final – was a strong candidate for the job
Dame Cressida said Baroness Casey – who has been leading an inquiry into how England yobs were able to break into Wembley during the Euros final – was a strong candidate for the job.
‘I think she’s got the right character, and the right expertise, and the right background, to do this review,’ she said.
‘In addition, we are going to review, internally, all our allegations, current, in relation to police officers, where somebody has made an allegation of sexual misconduct or domestic abuse.’
The review is expected to take six months, with the findings and recommendations published so that the force can ‘improve and make sure the public have more confidence in us’.
Baroness Casey said: ‘Trust is given to the police by our, the public’s, consent. So any acts that undermine that trust must be examined and fundamentally changed.
‘This will no doubt be a difficult task but we owe it to the victims and families this has affected and the countless decent police officers this has brought into disrepute.’
Dame Cressida Dick, who is resisting calls to resign, said she was ‘delighted’ to announce Baroness Blackstock will be leading the review
Couzens used his police issue handcuffs and warrant card to stage a fake arrest on Ms Everard before taking her away in his car
The spotlight will also be shone on the force’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command – which killer Wayne Couzens worked for – with a ‘root-and-branch review’ looking at whether there are any ‘specific issues’ within the unit.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has welcomed the appointment of Baroness Casey to lead the independent review into the Met’s culture and standards.
In a series of tweets, Mr Khan said: ‘Baroness Casey’s review must look into the wider culture of the Met Police, including issues of misogyny, sexism, racism and homophobia as well as thoroughly examining recruitment, vetting, training, leadership and standards of behaviour among officers and staff.
Baroness Casey: over 20 years in service
Baroness Casey of Blackstock, who was a public servant and in government, has scathingly criticised the Government in recent years.
Baroness Casey is a former Director General of the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Her interests have included homelessness and in 2003, she became director of the national Anti-Social Behaviour Unit.
Two years later, she was appointed to become the head of the Respect Task Force.
She became the UK’s first ever Victims’ Commisioner in 2010 and in 2015, she was appointed Director General of the government’s Troubled Families programme and reviewed community cohesion and extremism in the UK.
It was 2017 when she left the civil service but returned last February when she was appointed to lead a review into rough sleeping. She also took part in a Government coronavirus press conference in May last year.
But amid the Covid pandemic, Baroness Louise launched blistering attacks on the Government, criticising the coronavirus cash scheme.
Earlier this year, she warned the Tories risk being seen as ‘the nasty party’ if the Chancellor axes a £20 increase in Universal Credit – which has since been withdrawn this month.
Baroness Casey said if the increase was withdrawn at the end of March, it would be ‘too punitive’ for families struggling during the pandemic.
‘The Treasury need to step back and not feel this constant responsibility to close the books all the time and fight and fight and fight,’ she said, mimicking Theresa May’s jibe in 2002.
‘They need to step back and think if we really want to rebuild Britain, what type of economic policy do we need to put in place that will … not take the knees out from under people.
‘To remove that £20 a week – it’s too punitive, it’s not the right thing to do, and I think they just go back to being the nasty party.’
And in December 2020, she criticised the Government, saying people could be forced to ‘prostitute themselves’ to ‘put food on the table’ as the Covid support is inadequate.
In the attack, she warned measures to support employees not working during lockdowns would not ‘cut it’.
The ex-civil servant, who advised Labour and Tory governments but stepped down when she was awarded a peerage, voiced fears the UK was headed for a period of ‘destitution’.
Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne said Baroness Louise had gone ‘over the top’ and ‘undermined her argument’.
Baroness Louise told BBC News: ‘Do we want to go back to the days where people can’t put shoes on the children’s feet? Are we actually asking people in places like Liverpool to go out and prostitute themselves, so that they could put food on the table?’
She said it was wrong for Downing Street to have a sense that ‘people will make do’ because they ‘weren’t coping before Covid’.
But an HM Treasury spokesman said: ‘This is misleading. As the Chancellor made clear in the House of Commons, and leading think tanks have pointed out, the Job Support Scheme is generous by international standards.’
‘I’ve been clear with the Met Commissioner about the scale of the challenge we face and the change that’s needed, and I will continue to play my full part in holding the Met Police to account on behalf of Londoners.’
The Met review is separate to the independent inquiry announced by the Home Secretary Priti Patel on Tuesday to look into the ‘systematic failures’ that allowed Ms Everard’s killer to be employed as a police officer.
Educated at Goldsmith’s, University of London, after attending a secondary comprehensive, Baroness Blackstock served as deputy director of homelessness charity Shelter in 1992.
She advised Tony Blair’s government on homelessness and anti-social behaviour before being named as the UK’s first Victims’ Commissioner in March 2010
In February 2020, Boris Johnson appointed her as an adviser to help tackle rough sleeping and in July 2020 she was nominated for a crossbench peerage.
She has been involved in a series of inquiries, including leading the investigation into Rotherham Council’s children’s services unit following the scandal in the city over sexual exploitation.
Baroness Casey is known for her straight talking and in 2018 told The Times she was ‘sick of some men’s version of Islam’ that involved ‘telling women what to do.’
In January, she said the Tories risk becoming the ‘nasty party’ again if Rishi Sunak axed the £20 increase to Universal Credit – which he has now done.
Dame Cressida announced the independent review last month – while the government is conducting an inquiry of its own.
The move echoed the decision to launch an independent inquiry in the wake of the 1993 murder of Stephen Lawrence.
The 2014 inquiry, described at the time of publication as ‘devastating’ for the Met, concluded that institutional racism had impacted on the force’s investigation into Mr Lawrence’s murder.
Dame Cressida, who has been charge of the Met during a number of high profile force scandals, said she hoped the force could regain public confidence in the wake of Ms Everard’s death.
But, responding to calls for her to step down following the tragedy, she said today: ‘People will be entitled to their opinion, I’ve got a job to do, I’m getting on with it. My job now is to lead the Met through a difficult time and rebuild that public trust.’
The Met’s review will look at culture and standards at the Met, which has faced a wave of criticism over missed opportunities to expose killer cop Wayne Couzens as a sexual predator before he went on to rape and murder Sarah Everard.
Couzens used his police issue handcuffs and warrant card to stage a fake arrest on the marketing executive, 33, before taking her away in his car.
It later emerged the 48-year-old was known as ‘the rapist’ by staff at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary because he made female colleagues feel so uncomfortable.
He had been accused of indecent exposure in Kent in 2015 and in London in the days before Ms Everard’s murder, but was allowed to continue working.
In the wake of his life sentence for murder, it was revealed more than half of Met officers found guilty of sexual misconduct over a four-year period to 2020 kept their jobs, a total of 43 officers out of 83 or 52 per cent.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct is also investigating ‘offensive and abusive’ sexist messages shared by a group that involved Couzens.
The Met, which is now dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct among officers, has since faced claims that there is systematic misogyny within the force.
Other probes are also being carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC).
According to The Times, Ms Patel has set Dame Cressida three key targets to meet in order to keep her job: Statistics must show that serious violence and knife crime in London is falling; the Met must show evidence they are improving their response to violence against women and girls; and the force must co-operate with an independent inquiry into its failures that led to Couzens murdering Everard.
Meanwhile, police data for England and Wales forces has shown The Met has the lowest success rate for solving sexual and violent crime, with just one in 20 offences resulting in a charge, according to the Daily Telegraph.
IOPC director general Michael Lockwood said in two years the watchdog has seen 394 referrals where abuse of power for sexual gain by police officers was a factor. Of these, 106 were serious enough to warrant an investigation by the police watchdog.
Source: Daily Mail UK