Left MPs and campaigners respond to institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia in the Met 

“The Met Police is institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic. It has failed victims and enabled abusers within its own ranks.”

Nadia Whittome MP

By Labour Outlook

Baroness Louise Casey’s Review into the standards of behaviour and internal culture of the Metropolitan Police Service published on March 21st identified ‘institutional homophobia, misogyny and racism in the Met’. 

The report said it resulted in ‘unfair outcomes in communities that result from under[1][1]protection, from over-policing’, as well as, ‘overt discrimination, mistreatment and abuse of LGBTQ+, women and Black, Asian and ethnic minority officers and staff’ within the organisation, and, ‘a culture of downplaying and denial of discrimination and repeated unwillingness to accept and deal with institutional failures that let down Londoners’. 

Responding, Sir Mark Rowley, the new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said, ‘We have racists, misogynists and homophobes in the organisation. And it’s not just about individuals. We have systemic failings, management failings and cultural failings.’ However he said he wouldn’t use the term ‘insitutional’ which he thought was ‘ambiguous’.  

In a statement in Parliament by the Home Secretary Suella Braverman, she said ‘I have every confidence that Sir Mark Rowley and his team’. 

Responding to her, Members of Parliament and campaigning organisations condemned the long-term failure to act on institutional discrimination identified as long ago as the Scarman Report in 1981, in the wake of the Brixton riots, and the MacPherson Report in 1999, following the murder of Stephen Lawrence in Eltham. 

In the Commons, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, MP for Streatham, said, ‘I represent a constituency in Lambeth, where trust in policing is at the lowest level of anywhere in London. Instead of addressing the abuses of existing police powers, the Government seem to be creating new unaccountable powers.’ 

In addition, she condemned the failure to conduct sufficient checks on people applying to join the police force and the refusal of the Home Office and Commissioner to accept responsibility for it, asking,  

‘We have to undergo a security check, including police checks, to work in this House. How hard is it to ensure that every single officer is run through a similar check? Will the Home Secretary commit today to doing that? I asked the new commissioner who is responsible for suspending officers for misconduct, and he said that, under the law, it is the Home Secretary’s responsibility. In November 2022, a response from the Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire said it was the commissioner’s responsibility.

“The Home Secretary has said today that there are impediments and that she could potentially change the law to make sure that this happens. Can she please explain who is in charge and exactly what is going on?’ 

Writing on twitter, Zarah Sultana MP, said, ‘It was never “just a few bad apples.” The Metropolitan Police is rotten and today even an official report has agreed, judging the force to be “institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic. The Met requires fundamental overhaul, not small tweaks.’ 

Nadia Whittome MP, said online, “The Met Police is institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic. It has failed victims and enabled abusers within its own ranks. Small tweaks won’t fix it. As the Casey Report makes clear, it’s rotten to its core.”

Beth Winter MP, said, “The Casey Report into the Metropolitan Police is both shocking and shaming. She lays out institutional homophobia, misogyny and racism. Trust with the public is clearly broken. The Met has to change. But the test of change will be the consent of Londoners.”

Kate Osamor, MP for Edmonton, said, “The Casey Review has found that the Met is institutionally racist, corrupt, & homophobic. Rowley doesn’t accept the terms ‘Institutional racism, corruption and homophobia’. He needs to be removed and replaced with somebody who can begin the major change that must now begin.”

Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central, said the Home Secretary was refusing to take responsibility for scrutiny of the Metropolitan Police, said,  

“With this hands-off approach, it is as though nothing is the her responsibility. When the Mayor of London got rid of the last commissioner, the Home Secretary continually attacked the Mayor of London’s correct decision. We have heard about all the other reports, including the 1981 Scarman report on the Brixton riots, the 1999 Stephen Lawrence report, the 2021 IOPC report on Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, and the 2021 report on Daniel Morgan, which found that the police were institutionally corrupt. The IOPC report on the Stephen Port murders found that the police were homophobic, and some of them are still working in Barking.

“Operation Hotton made 15 recommendations; those recommendations have still not been implemented in the Met. Why is the Home Secretary not taking any responsibility in her role in the Met? If she does not want the responsibility, for goodness’ sake, will she just stand down?”

Sam Tarry, MP for Ilford South, highlighting the death of Zara Aleena in his constituency, said, “it is clear that people do believe that the Met police is institutionally racist and institutionally misogynistic.”

While Marsha De Cordova, MP for Battersea, said the Met’s actions “seriously undermine policing by consent, and without wholesale reform it will be impossible to rebuild trust and confidence in our communities in London.”

John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, said, “The relationship between the Metropolitan police and the Asian community, particularly in west London, was damaged by that case and also by the failure of the Met to properly investigate the death of my constituent Ricky Reel 25 years ago. It was subsequently discovered, when Ricky’s family were appealing for more police resources, that police resources were being applied to surveilling the family and the campaign itself.”

He put pressure on the Home Secretary, to use her office ensure past investigations in to Met’s failure of Reel’s family were published, saying, “we need the assistance of the Home Secretary in releasing the confidential report that was undertaken by the Police Complaints Authority in the late 1990s exposing the failures of the original investigation, as well as the family liaison officer logs that were kept during that period, so that we can again look at what happened to Ricky subsequent to the racial attack that he suffered. The ownership of those documents is with the Home Secretary, not with the Met commissioner. I wrote to the Home Secretary in February about this. Please can I have a positive reply as soon as possible, to reassure the family?” 

Meanwhile, the Runnymede Trust, shared a joint statement with Liberty, Inquest and Stonewall which said, “it is increasingly clear that our communities do not consent to the violent, predatory, and discriminatory policing, that we are currently offered.”

Furthermore, they condemned the expansion of police powers whilst its discriminatory approach remained unchecked, saying, “rather than continue to increase the power and presence of a broken institution, we call for significant and sustained investment into community-based solutions which tackle the root causes of crime, eradicating poverty, access to good education, housing and healthcare.”

What is clear is that the Met Police has lost the support of Londoners due to repeat incidents that expose discriminatory practices, whether racism, misogyny or homophobia, and that has been set out in black and white in the official report commissioned by the former Met Police Commissioner. There is now concern that the new Commissioner is not prepared to accept the terminology of ‘institutional’ discrimination.

The test of any reform will be the Met’s ability to win the consent of Londoners. 

Featured image: Protestors demonstrate outside Scotland Yard over the police brutality at the Sarah Everard vigil. Photo credit: Guy Smallman

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