The Met Police are beyond reform – they need to be abolished
A review into the Metropolitan police has found the force to be institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic. The report, written by government official Louise Casey, was commissioned after serving Met police officer Wayne Couzens was charged with the kidnap, rape, and murder of Sarah Everard. Since then another officer, David Carrick, has also been jailed for life for dozens of rapes and sexual assaults stretching back two decades. Furthermore, many other Met scandals have emerged.
Casey found a pervasive culture of “deep-seated homophobia” and predatory behaviour, in which female officers and staff “routinely face sexism and misogyny”. She also warned that the force could still be employing rapists and murderers. Additionally, Casey found that violence against women and girls has not been treated seriously enough by the majority white and male force.
Casey’s conclusions come nearly 25 years after the Macpherson Report. That report was triggered by the murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993. Even a quarter of a century ago the force was found to be institutionally racist, with dozens of reforms recommended.
Lawrence’s mother Doreen said the report showed the force was “rotten to the core,” saying:
It is not, and has never been, a case of a few ‘bad apples’.
It is rotten to the core. Discrimination is institutionalised within the Metropolitan Police and it needs changing from top to bottom.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has responsibility for the force and initiated the review, said he expected all of those recommendations to be fully implemented quickly. He described Tuesday as “one of the darkest days” in the Met’s history. But, is it? We’ve been here so many times before, as many people pointed out on Twitter.
Academic Kehinde Andrews said:
It's only news that the Met Police is institutionally racist if you haven't being paying attention for the last seventy years
— Kehinde Andrews (@kehinde_andrews) March 21, 2023
Journalist Lorraine King questioned if anything would even change:
What's the point of commissioning an independent review into Met Police if the results are going to be refuted because you don't like it?
I thought the whole point of an independent review was without bias.
This shows that some independent reviews are just performative exercises
— Lorraine King (@lorrainemking) March 22, 2023
Author Kelechi Okafor mentioned ex-commissioner Cressida Dick and called for the Met to be taken apart:
With the seemingly never ending scandals that keep popping up about the heinous crimes of met police officers, I would say it is time to take the whole thing apart because they’ve become a law unto themselves. A gang if you will.
— Kelechi (@kelechnekoff) March 21, 2023
Human rights organisation Liberty called for a broader conversation about how to keep communities safe:
We all want to feel safe in our communities, but that this is not the case for so many people – incl women & marginalised communities
We need a meaningful discussion about how to keep communities safe
And solutions which have human rights and social justice at their hearts
— Liberty (@libertyhq) March 21, 2023
MP Claudia Webbe called for widespread change:
The Met Police is not fit for purpose. It’s beyond repair.
It is rotten to the core; racist, sexist and homophobic. It’s institutionally so. Failing to accept this, is problematic.
Calling for a ‘new phase’ is weak. We need a complete overhaul and total transformational change.
— Claudia Webbe MP (@ClaudiaWebbe) March 21, 2023
However, trade unionist Howard Beckett said that the Met was beyond reform:
Two reports, 25 years apart, have reached the exact same conclusion.
London Metropolitan Police is “institutionally racist”. Racist to its very core. Permanently racist.
The Met is beyond saving. Just like the RUC was.
Disband the London Metropolitan Police.
— Howard Beckett (@BeckettUnite) March 21, 2023
Indeed, Casey herself warned that failure to reform could mean the Met is dismantled. She told BBC Radio:
The bottom line is this: if an organisation can’t fix itself then there has to be change
Casey also noted that “it may need to be broken up”. Home secretary Suella Braverman, who is responsible for policing, said “I don’t agree that we must abolish” the force. She added that instead “a wide-ranging and profound programme of reform” is required.
However, as Melissa Céspedes Del Sur wrote in Open Democracy:
You cannot reform a system that is working exactly as it is intended to: in the interests of the capital of the ruling elite, at the cost of the rest of us. The system relies on crises such as these to prove itself and individualise issues – one could say it is always in a state of crisis, but how many crises will it take before we are finally done with it?
Here at the Canary we’ve reported time and time again when Met police officers strip search children, further criminalise Black and Brown communities, have officers that rape and murder, and are placed in special measures. All of these incidents are not evidence that the Met needs reform. They’re evidence that the Met is functioning exactly as intended – criminalising vulnerable communities.
As Sur concluded, there is an alternative to this corrupt policing:
This change is already happening – every time someone intervenes in a police interaction, organises a strike, offers mutual aid, or resists an eviction or an immigration raid. We are changing the system when we talk to our neighbours instead of calling the police, or organise CopWatch meetings, or take to the streets to demand accountability for our murdered sisters and siblings.
Now, we can keep churning out the same reports about how deeply racist and misogynist the Met are, all whilst nothing changes. Or, we can acknowledge that police do not keep communities safe. People keep communities safe, and we can all do more to change a system that is undoubtedly harming marginalised communities.
Featured image by John Cameron/Unsplash
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse
- Learn more about abolition through Abolitionist Futures
- Find your local copwatching group through the Network for Police Monitoring
- Support the Northern Police Monitoring Project
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