BBC BLOGS - Guy Smith's Met Matters

Archives for January 2011

Is the Met police in crisis?

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Guy Smith | 12:34 UK time, Monday, 24 January 2011

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It came to me on the Tube this morning.

And I started scribbling down how many issues Scotland Yard was facing right now.

The list is long: News of the World phone hacking; undercover officer Mark Kennedy and the collapse of an expensive criminal trial; allegations of undercover officers using sex as a technique to extract information from protesters; an officer allegedly sleeping with people he was supposed to be protecting; a top commander giving misleading information to a powerful parliamentary committee; criticisms over the handling of the student protests. It goes on.

"It's hard to remember so many controversies," said former Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick in a phone call when I arrived at work. "The Met's going through a very difficult time."

The Metropolitan Police is also facing a 20 per cent cut in its budget over the next few years.

Mr Quick added: "The budget cuts exacerbate the pressure on the organisation. It's a cumulative effect with a whole series of issues. It's hard to predict (what will happen) but the Met is resilient."

But all these incidents together chip away at what Londoners think of their police force. It's concerning because the Met heavily relies on public confidence and trust to help them do the job.

Their reputation and brand is under attack on many fronts.

This morning I was outside the Met HQ in Westminster and a group of mainly women demonstrators was highlighting one the above issues: undercover police officers apparently having sexual relations with members of protest groups that they infiltrate.

The Met denies that this is/was officially sanctioned.
The protestors claim covert officers with the full knowledge of their superiors routinely used the tactic of "promiscuity" as a way of gaining intelligence.

Sophie Stephens, who calls herself a climate justice activist, said this was "state-sponsored sexual abuse".

Do you believe the Met is in crisis or is it all a storm in a tea cup?

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