Last year, East Anglia Bylines reported on failings in the Met which let many police officers offend, yet remain in the ranks. In the last decade, 1,809 officers have had more than one allegation against them, but only 13 were dismissed.
And yet again, we learn of a perpetrator carrying out sickening crimes against women. A Metropolitan Police firearms officer from Hertfordshire, David Carrick, has been convicted of dozens of horrendous sex crimes over two decades. Why were early opportunities missed to stop it before all those lives were ruined?
History repeats itself
In January 2011, Stephen Mitchell, a Northumbria police officer, received two life sentences for serious sex attacks against women he met through his job. A subsequent report made recommendations on vetting, predicting behaviour patterns and whistleblowing, with the aim of preventing criminal officers remaining in the force.
So by 2012 it was already known that some officers used their position to abuse women’s trust. However, seven years later in 2019, the introduction to a report from the policing inspectorate, ‘Abuse of Position for a Sexual Purpose’, found that some forces had changed, but others had “after all this time, still not put some basic measures in place”. It was estimated that over 10% of police staff still did not have up-to-date vetting.
In 2021, it was revealed that hundreds of misconduct allegations had been made against police officers across England and Wales over five years, including over 500 in the Met. Little had changed in the ten years since Mitchell’s conviction.
Not taking it seriously
The police statement about Carrick states, “We should have spotted his pattern of abusive behavior, and because we didn’t, we missed opportunities to remove him…”
Andrea Simon, director of End Violence Against Women, says, “The police are clearly incapable of identifying perpetrators in their midst, even when they exhibit textbook patterns of predatory behavior”.
The extraordinary fact is, though, that nine serious complaints had been made against Carrick, and somehow he was allowed to stay as a firearms officer. Didn’t they join the dots? Was it incompetence? Or not thinking crimes against women were that serious? Senior officers who let Carrick remain should face serious questions.
The home secretary, Suella Braverman, has announced an ‘internal review’ into the Met’s dismissal processes after failing to remove Carrick despite serious claims. Many will have no faith in the Met ‘marking its own homework’; it has shown time and again that it cannot or will not take effective action.
The Met is now investigating 1,000 claims of sexual abuse involving 800 officers. It’s difficult to believe that the Met is capable of self-improvement. There are calls for allegations to be overseen by independent experts and for vetting standards to be legislated. Believing the Met can change itself is far-fetched; it will only come with input from external independent bodies. Women deserve decisive action.