The Metropolitan Police have been placed in special measures after being hit by a series of scandals.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has announced that it has decided to place the force under “further review and support” after it came under fire for events such as the murder of Sarah Everard by an officer on duty and the strip search of a schoolgirl in Hackney.
In a statement, the Inspectorate said: ‘We can confirm that we are now monitoring the Met Police Service through our engagement process which provides additional review and support to help it make improvements.
Asked if this meant special measures, a spokesperson replied: “Yes”.
A Met spokesman said the force recognized the “cumulative impact of events and issues” it faced.
They said: “We understand the impact this has had on the communities and we share their disappointment.
“We are determined to be a police service that Londoners can be proud of. We are discussing the next steps with the Inspectorate.”
It comes as the government continues its search for a new Commissioner for Force following the departure of Dame Cressida Dick after Mayor Sadiq Khan said he had no confidence in her.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘I expect the police to have the basics down. It is clear that the Metropolitan Police Service is failing to live up to these expectations, which is why I support the action the HMICFRS has taken today to highlight their failures – and I expect the Met and the Mayor of London that they take immediate action to start addressing it.
“The recruitment process for a new Commissioner is well underway and I have made it clear that the successful candidate must demonstrate sustained improvement within the Metropolitan Police Service in order to regain public trust both in London and across all the countries.
“The new commissioner will need to address the public’s priorities for policing – making our streets safer, tackling crime and bringing more criminals to justice, while continuing to recruit thousands of new officers to protect local communities.”
Dame Cressida’s replacement is expected to be unveiled this summer, with Sir Stephen House currently leading the force as acting commissioner.
The Met is the second force to be placed on special measures in recent years. The watchdog has placed Greater Manchester Police on the ‘commitment’ process in 2020 after failing to report 80,000 crimes.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he welcomed “the additional scrutiny and support that these measures will now bring”.
He said: “A series of appalling scandals have not only revealed deep cultural issues, but have also undermined Londoners’ confidence in the capital’s police service.
“HMIC’s decision to now move the Met to special measures has laid bare the force’s substantial performance shortcomings.
“As I’ve been saying for some time, Londoners deserve better. This is why we now need to see nothing less than a new contract forged between the police and the public in London. It means sweeping reforms and systemic change to the Met’s performance and culture.
“This will be a crucial first step for the next commissioner to begin to rebuild trust and credibility with our communities. I will work with HMIC and hold the Met to account in delivering the police reforms and the step change in police performance and culture that all of our communities deserve.
The family of Child Q, the Hackney teenager who was strip searched by Metropolitan Police officers while on her period, have welcomed the decision.
They said: “The Metropolitan Police have shown time and time again that they cannot do their job properly and the actions of their officers have had devastating and heartbreaking consequences for innocent people across London, including Child Q. It is no wonder that there is little or no trust in the Metropolitan Police.
“We hope that the thorough review of special measures will lead to a permanent change in the culture and practices of the force. The Met must now meaningfully address the shortcomings that have been identified by the HMICFRS as well as those identified by the many recent reports of its wrongdoing. Londoners deserve so much better.
Among the scandals that have rocked the Met in recent years have been racist texts exchanged by members of Charing Cross police station and the jailing of two officers who admitted sharing photographs of two sisters, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, after ‘they were found murdered in Wembley Park.
He also drew attention to the policing of a vigil following the murder of Ms Everard after women were handcuffed to the ground and led away by officers.
A report from the inspectorate concluded that the police “acted appropriately” during the event, but also concluded that it was a “public relations disaster” and called certain statements made by members of the “deaf tone” force.
Last week, the Met confirmed eight more voluntary referrals involving strip searches of children had been made to the Independent Office of Police Conduct after two teenage girls were strip searched by officers while they were their rules.