Met Police diverts terrorism officers to clean up its own act
The announcement was made Thursday 6thApril by Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, that he would be diverting as many as 90 officers from counter-terrorism investigations to work on internally cleaning up the image of the police force. The announcement will no doubt carry with it a certain amount of irony for the Muslim community in particular, given the prevailing likely former focus of these very ‘terrorism’ officers on the Muslim community as a prime ‘suspect community’ in their investigations.
The Met Police, the UK’s largest police force, has dominated press headlines over the last few months after a series of scandals and a recent major review, which lead to a declaration by Baroness Casey that the Met was ‘institutionally racist, homophobic and misogynist’.
The new Met Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley took over the job in September last year after former Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick sensationally resigned following revelations that the Muslim Mayor of London - Sadiq Khan, had made clear his lack of confidence in her ability to deal with the issue of institutional racism. Sir Mark Rowley has since been vocal in stating that of the more than 43,000 officers in the Met Police, there are many who he believes 'should not be in the job’. Since he took office, he has doubled the number of suspensions of police staff for misconduct. 144 officers have been suspended and there have been 51 dismissals in the last six months.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Thursday morning, Sir Mark Rowley said that over the next two or three years the force will remove hundreds of people from the organisation who shouldn’t be working for it. He declared:
‘I said we were serious about this and I meant it. This is the strongest doubling down on standards in the Met for 50years…[the force] cannot succeed in any policing mission unless we resolve these issues as urgently as possible'
The latest statement focused mostly on the issues of domestic abuse and sexual violence – with promises of a review of risk assessments and a reconsideration of missed lines of inquiry. The case of the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving policeman, David Carrick was clearly central to the statement. However, just a week ago on 30th March, the Commissioner and the Mayor of London jointly announced a £1 million training plan to ‘build trust’ among the black and minority Londoners. They issued a joint statement, which said the new scheme:
‘puts Black communities in London, who have the lowest levels of trust in the police, at the centre of improving how the next generation of police officers go about their vital work of bearing down on crime in London’s diverse communities… the report must be a catalyst for reform and a turning point in the relationship between the Met and London’s communities’.
On 1st April, just two days after the announcement of the training plan, at an Iftar event hosted in the offices of New Scotland Yard (in partnership with Algebra Festivals), one of the Met’s most senior black officers, Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe addressed a gathering of 50 Muslims and non-Muslims as he renewed calls for more Muslims, minorities and women to consider a career in the police force. He acknowledged the importance of the Iftar event in recognising the importance of the Muslim faith and its purpose to additionally encourage people to join the organisation.
‘It is vitally important that you have trust in us and it is vitally important you hold us to account for what we’re doing and when we have got it wrong we have to have humility and put our hands up and say we got it wrong…but also to have the empathy to understand the pain and suffering that has been caused to all sectors of the community’.
Zak Hullemuth, Chair of the Association of Muslim Police, a representative body for the 1500 Muslim Police officers in the Met, was also in attendance. He commented:
‘You probably heard about the Baroness review, the criticism of the Met and the culture, but we are here to work to make these changes’
Officer Hullemuth will no doubt have been conscious of the huge row which broke out a year ago in February 2022, when it was revealed that Muslim Met officers had registered official complaints against their bosses after suffering Islamophobic abuse. They reported then, that Muslim officers had been mocked and accused of ‘skiving off’ during work time to pray. The complaints included an episode where one officer who had sought leave from a [drinking] team-building work event on religious grounds, as a consequence had been ordered to wash police cars as an act of humiliation. His refusal then resulted in disciplinary action.