Scathing report says UK police getting away with lawbreaking

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LONDON (AP) — Officers in London’s Metropolitan Police force are getting away with breaking the law, and the system for investigating police misconduct is marred by racism and misogyny, a report said Monday.

In the latest withering criticism of Britain’s biggest police force, Louise Casey said some officers were “getting away both with misconduct but also criminal behavior” without being fired.

“Cases are taking too long to resolve, allegations are more likely to be dismissed than acted upon, the burden on those raising concerns is too heavy, and there is racial disparity across the system, with white officers dealt with less harshly than Black or Asian officers,” Casey said in a letter to police chief Mark Rowley.

Casey, an experienced former government official, was asked to investigate the force after a string of controversies over alleged misogyny and racism among officers. She issued an interim report on Monday, with her full findings due next year.

Last year a police officer, Wayne Couzens, was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering a woman who was walking home at night in London. Sarah Everard’s slaying by a serving officer shocked the nation, and the police force’s subsequent handling of vigils and protests against Everard’s slaying — where women were detained for breaching coronavirus restrictions — drew strong criticism.

Earlier this year, an investigation slammed a culture of misogyny, bullying and sexual harassment at one London police station, Charing Cross.

The force also has been criticized for the way it handled the case of two Black sisters murdered in a London park in 2020 — their bodies found by a family search party because police weren’t looking for them — and for failing to stop serial killer Stephen Port, who drugged and killed four young men he met online.

In February, Cressida Dick resigned from her role as police chief after London Mayor Sadiq Khan said she was not doing enough to urgently overhaul the force and regain public confidence. In June the force was placed in “special measures” by the country’s police watchdog.

Rowley, who replaced Dick, said the force fired between 30 and 50 officers and staff a year but that the number should be much higher.

“You have to come to the conclusion there must be hundreds of people that shouldn’t be here, who should be thrown out,” he said. “There must be hundreds who are behaving disgracefully, undermining our integrity and need ejecting.”

The British government said it would review the system and procedures for firing police officers.

Rowley said the failings uncovered by Casey were “completely unacceptable.”

“I am sorry to those we have let down: both the public and our honest and dedicated officers,” he said in a letter to Casey. “The public deserves a better Met, and so do our good people who strive every day to make a positive difference to Londoners.”

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