A huge challenge for the head of the Met

 
Sir Bernard Hogan Howe Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe

Two contrasting views have filled my Twitter stream in the last 24 hours.

One suggests that there is nothing remotely shocking about the review into police corruption and spying by the Met surrounding the Stephen Lawrence case - we all know the score.

The other view suggests that there is far too much being made of the activities of a very small handful of corrupt officers, and we must stress how the vast majority of the police service do an amazing job, day in and day out.

The shock of the review, for me, is that it suggests there was - and still is - a culture inside the Metropolitan Police which sees protecting the reputation of the Yard as more important than candour and transparency.

By way of example, the review says it was told only last month that certain material relating to the corrupt former detective John Davidson could not be found. "We have some reservations about accepting this assertion," the review states.

This is an elegant way of saying "we think the cops may still be lying".

The review also says "there must be serious concerns that further relevant material has not been revealed" by the Met. In other words, "we can't be sure that the police aren't still covering up evidence of corruption."

This is not some historical case concerning corruption by a small number of officers decades ago. This is about an organisation that a government-commissioned review still cannot trust to tell the whole truth.

So where was Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, yesterday? I am told he only received the review document yesterday morning and needed time to digest its contents.

That's why he sent one of his deputies out to dead-bat the media's questions. Today, Sir Bernard has told London's Evening Standard that yesterday was "one of the worst days that I have seen as a police officer".

He will be conducting a series of media interviews this afternoon, stressing his determination to restore trust and confidence in the Metropolitan Police.

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[Sir Bernard] will need to work very hard to shift any impression that he is reluctant to expose the skeletons in Scotland Yard's cupboards”

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His problem, though, is that some see him as part of the problem, not the solution.

The review is clearly not persuaded that Sir Bernard is taking the issue seriously enough. Asked in 2012 for material relating to an anti-corruption investigation conducted in the 1990s - Operation Othona - it took police a year to find a cardboard box containing a hard drive with some details of it.

Only then did it also emerge that every single hard copy of the investigation's findings were destroyed in a "mass shredding" in 2003.

Last summer the review asked about information relating to another corruption investigation and was told the material had not been indexed. When they asked again last December, they were told the material had still not been indexed.

These are matters which fall on Sir Bernard's watch. He will need to work very hard to shift any impression that he is reluctant to expose the skeletons in Scotland Yard's cupboards.

Trust in the police is vital. We know there is a strong link between confidence in police and the likelihood that citizens will obey the law. At the moment, public satisfaction and trust remains stable - roughly two thirds of people still think officers tell the truth.

But this is a time of reckoning for Scotland Yard. Sir Bernard has a huge task ahead of him.

 
Mark Easton, Home editor Article written by Mark Easton Mark Easton Home editor

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 84.

    How about a review into the met infiltrating the peaceful anti capitalist demo's last year and then throwing objects at their uniformed colleagues so the riot police could get stuck in and arrest everyone and then march them off to the nearest police cell.
    Police protecting the interest of big business and not the people.
    The Met are not nice people, I trust them about as far as I could throw one

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 83.

    78.freindleonewhocares
    Who would want to be a police man or woman in this country anymore?

    Or a nurse, or a doctor, or a GP, or a teacher or banker or an MP?

    Media scandels about a minority end up with whole professions getting steriotyped and damned by the ignorant.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 82.

    Lets start from the top.

    If you want to get rid of corruption, start at the top by investigating the finances of politicians who are selling off this country to the private sector.

    How we stop the private sector is another question.

    It will in my view, mean abandoning Capitalism for a better system that does not require most of the people to be milked so a few can benefit.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 81.

    Maybe the Scots referendum is an opportunity to re-brand Scotland Yard, which is normally what happens to hospitals etc due to problems/failures.

    At same time, re-brand the House of Commons to House of Eliteonians.

  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +19

    Comment number 79.

    How about hogan-howes resignation, a full public enquiry into policing practices, corrupt officers sent to prison, a robust and effective IPCC with real powers and no ex police officers on staff, an end to officers under investigation retiring on "health grounds", finally an admission that the British police service has failed the public and a full apology to every victim of British policing

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 78.

    Who would want to be a police man or woman in this country anymore?
    Attacked from all sides,derided by the media, justice system and criminals.Then now some have to contend with the Lawrence saga which seems to drag on and on(so boring).
    Perhaps these people would prefer a USA style police with shoot first ask questions later remit.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 77.

    I thought Line of Duty was a drama. Now I know it's a documentary

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 76.

    The biggest crime is the amount of time & resources wasted on one murder 20 years ago which had no witnesses and scant evidence.
    The relentless attacks on the white establishment by the pc circus surrounding the case will not bring Stephen back no matter how much racist mud they fling. It makes the Yew Tree fiasco look insignificant!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 75.

    61. Hardly institutional anxiety when a detective tries to ignore a murderer because he's the son of a local gangster with whom he has an "arrangement"! Read the BBC analysis.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 74.

    If any police officer is suspected of wrongdoing, charges should be laid and answered to in a REAL court in front of a REAL judge, not in some expensive and pointless 'public enquiry' that serves no purpose beyond lining the pockets of the chair & lawyers & giving politicians a few cheap sound-bites and the fake impression that they are doing something about the problem.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 73.

    Isn't it time to lose the now tainted brand of 'New Scotland Yard'? The pointless rotating sign outside MPS HQ is now just self-aggrandising puffery and a joke in the wake of endless scandals.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 72.

    67.EastAnglian
    How can you trust a policeman to tell you 90mph is dangerous while he was hacking along at 150 to catch up?

    The difference is only the best police drivers are chosen for this sort of thing, they have gone through months of extensive training and are using cars typically uprated for the purpose. The average driver is a menace at 90mph but doesn't realise it.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 71.

    @65 big bang
    "The BBC need to get their own house in order before criticizing everyone else, just look at all the scandals that have come out of the BBC."
    .. erm, the BBC is a news organisation. You are suggesting it stop reporting the news?

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 69.

    39.Dr B - "Those of you without guilt cast the first stone! Anything in your life you have done which is unethical, underhand or illegal?"

    I'm sure most of us have done a few things which are unethical, underhand or illegal but hopefully not in the course of doing our jobs?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 68.

    One of the major emotions felt by many policemen is frustration, dealing daily with criminals who can use every trick (legal and otherwise) in the book to avoid punishment for their crimes. It tends to engender a mindset that if they can pull a fast one to get off the hook, then the police should be able to step outside the law to nick them. Understandable perhaps, but totally wrong.

  • rate this
    -15

    Comment number 67.

    How can you trust a policeman to tell you 90mph is dangerous while he was hacking along at 150 to catch up? I know it's trivial but with double standards like this it's very hard to take them seriously.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 66.

    Mrs Lawrence would not be in the House of Lords had her son not been murdered and the killers allowed to get away with it. One assumes if she fixes the problem she will then resign her title (or not).
    A world in which everyone treats everyone else fairly and without prejudice would be a lovely place. It is not possible for it to exist but it would be nice. Even white people play the race card.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 65.

    The BBC is obsessed with bashing the Police, yes they have made mistakes and are not perfect.

    The BBC need to get their own house in order before criticizing everyone else, just look at all the scandals that have come out of the BBC.

 

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