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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?


  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

    "State sponsored sexual abuse"? What a joke. Whilst I don't agree with such methods being used, suggesting that they amount to sexual abuse seriously demeans anyone who has faced real abuse from someone in their life.

    If you went out one night and had a one night stand, you wouldn't accuse the other participant of sexual abuse if the night before they'd claimed to be a millionaire and you've now found out they're on Jobseeker's Allowance, would you? No. Because there's a difference between lying and abusing.

    No, it's not right for Police Officers to use sex, either sanctioned or unsanctioned, as a method of gaining information, but people shouldn't make things worse by throwing out such alarmist comments as that.

    As for the rest of the Met's troubles - like all organisations they have some bad eggs hidden in with the good ones, but nine times out of ten, the bad stuff makes the front page news whilst the good stuff gets a footnote on page 12. No wonder the public view is being skewed so badly.

  • Comment number 3.

    The British tabloids have a lot to answer for, and so have those brain dead,low-lifers who read their rubbish.

    But the Met has a lot to answer for too. But they have an extremely difficult job to do, as any Police force would, trying to deal with an overcrowded city, exacerbated by uncontrolled immigration.....drugs, zero-educated delinquents, and the constant threat of terrorism.

    However, the Met has an exceptionally proud history. This isn't the first time they've had to face up to a crisis.

    The issue of the so called 'cuts' is a red-herring. I don't know of any organisation that year-on-year doesn't have to deal with creeping inefficiencies, and cut them out. It's the work that a good manager does.


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