Questions about city police accountability were raised after it was discovered that the force had been exposed to 63 active investigations by the independent watchdog – some of which went back years.
The figure was provided by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) at the request of HuffPost UK following a series of complaints about the UK’s largest police force in recent months.
Our data request initially resulted in an ongoing investigation, which was first opened in March 2015, and four cases each that were still active for 2018/19 and 2019/20. One of these, which involved an officer hitting a vulnerable teenager 34 times with a baton and spraying them with CS gas up close, was finalized on Friday when we published this story.
The guard dog set up the ashes of the Independent Police Complaints Commission in 2018 Ensure “greater public accountability”, an annual budget of around £ 73 million and receive around 4,300 recommendations last year at national level.
The armed forces must refer the worst incidents to the IOPC – for example, if someone dies or is seriously injured after police operations – and if they receive a complaint, it is considered legitimate. The IPOC can also “convene” minor investigations, which armed forces conduct themselves, if they consider incidents serious enough.
There are warnings, however, “the system is broken” as the IOPC’s probes have come into focus at the Met this year.
In March, the watchdog announced it would open two separate investigations into Sarah Everard, whose death put violence against women and girls around the world at the center. One investigates how Wayne Couzens, the officer charged with Everard’s murder, sustained serious injuries while in custody. The other investigation examines an “inappropriate” graphic allegedly shared by an officer who participated in searches.
Hannah Mckay about REUTERSPolice hold Patsy Stevenson as people gather at a memorial in the Clapham Common Bandstand following the murder of Sarah Everard.
Last week, the IOPC’s investigations into the Met led to two further developments.
On Monday, she announced that the Met would be undergoing a review of how to deal with the disappearance of 19-year-old Richard Okorogheye, whose body was found in Epping Forest, Essex, in April. The watchdog is investigating whether racism played a role in the search following complaints from Okorogheye’s mother Evidence Joel.
“Maybe it’s the culture, my language barrier,” Joel told Channel 4 News, adding that she believed officials viewed her as “one of those African women who were hectic” and didn’t take immediate action to help her son Find.
On Wednesday, prosecutors announced that two police officers had been charged with misconduct after the IOPC investigated the distribution of inappropriate photos of sisters Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46, who were stabbed to death in a north London park. The watchdog was conducting a criminal investigation into allegations that officers Pc Deniz Jaffer, 47, and Pc Jamie Lewis, 32, took “unofficial and inappropriate photos” of the crime scene before sharing them on WhatsApp.
PABibaa Henry (left) and Nicole Smallman, who were stabbed to death in the wee hours of June 6th at Fryent Country Park, Wembley.
However, the investigations go back a few years.
HuffPost UK believes that the longest term concerns the death of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. In 2015, the Independent Police Complaints Commission announced that it would investigate former Scotland Yard Commissioner Lord Stevens to see if documents were forwarded to the 1998 Stephen Lawrence Public Inquiry, led by Sir William Macpherson.
A referral followed a complaint to the force on behalf of Neville Lawrence, Stephen’s father, that there was “failure by senior or senior officers, including, but not limited to, Assistant Commissioner Sir John Stevens, to provide full, frank and truthful information to make information to the Macpherson Inquiry into Corruption ”.
It focused on two letters from Lord Stevens but was halted while four former Met officers were investigated for their work on the initial murder investigation. The CPS has yet to decide whether the four six years after the complaint is opened should be billed.
Another ongoing investigation began after British sprinter Bianca Williams accused the Met of “racial profiles” after she and her partner were stopped and searched by officials in west London last July. The gold medalist from Europe and the Commonwealth and Ricardo dos Santos (25), the Portuguese record holder over 400m, were stopped and handcuffed with their three-month-old baby in Maida Vale.
Video footage widely shared on social media revealed the couple – both black – being aggressively dragged out of a car by officers. The desperate athlete repeatedly hears: “My son is in the car.”
Racist police aren’t just in America # BLMpic.twitter.com/7DKgLnGPhc
– Linford Christie (@ChristieLinford) July 4, 2020
Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick later apologized and initiated a pre-arrest review of the use of handcuffs after the vehicle was stopped.
Last year, the watchdog said it made 11 recommendations to the Met to improve the use of stop and search powers after a review of cases found that “a number of issues undermined the legitimacy of stop and search,” including a lack of understanding of the effects of disproportionate and poor communication.
In an investigation, a black man in possession of someone else’s credit card was suspected of stealing it despite making a credible statement. In another case, officers used stop and search forces after brothers Liam and Dijon, who are black, pounded Joseph with their fists and claimed they believed they had exchanged drugs.
Family handoutPARichard Okorogheye’s family have questioned the troop’s treatment of the investigation into his disappearance.
Not all open cases are so well known. A police officer was released on Friday for beating a vulnerable teenager with a baton 34 times.
The Met said Pc Benjamin Kemp used violence “absolutely inappropriate” for a 17-year-old girl who was escorted by a mental health department and separated from a group in Newham, east London, in May 2019. CS spray and handcuffs were used on the girl, as were the baton blows. Kemp was fired after a malpractice panel after complaints were filed by an NHS representative and the girl’s mother.
The number of cases has raised concern among politicians. Jenny Jones, a Green colleague and ex-member of the London Police Department, announced in 2014 that she had been included in a Met Police database of “domestic extremists” and that officials had followed her political movements since 2001.
When asked about our findings, she told HuffPost UK: “It is extremely difficult for people to hold the Met Police accountable for their wrongdoing. My personal experience of being spied on by the Met Police and filing complaints with the IOPC confirms that the system is defective.
“The IOPC is massively underfunded and underfunded. It took them almost three years to investigate a complaint I filed against several police officers, and if I hadn’t been backed by an excellent legal team, it probably would have taken even longer.
“The IOPC relies so heavily on obtaining testimony from police officers that it is very difficult for the IOPC to actually grant complaints if there is no massively compelling external evidence.
“When people don’t justice for legitimate complaints against the police, we not only have a second rate and potentially corrupt police service with officials who consider themselves above the law, but also a fundamental wave of public opinion driven by the police and the Alienated police are suspicious of them. “
Former Police Officer Lord Brian Paddick, the The Liberal Democrats Home Affairs spokesman in the House of Lords said: “The Liberal Democrats have had concerns for some time about what is happening in the Metropolitan Police, particularly about culture and diversity.
“Stop and Search’s continued disproportionate focus on Black Londoners, particularly in Section 60 [a temporary power that lowers the bar for police to be allowed to search people] authorizes searches without suspicion along with a disproportionate focus the internal misconduct of officials and employees of ethnic minorities raises serious questions about culture within the Met.
“The police must foster the trust of all communities in order to be able to fight crime, especially knife crime, effectively.”
An IOPC spokesperson said: “We are investigating the most serious and sensitive incidents and allegations involving the police in England and Wales. Most complaints about the police are handled by the competent police. “
HuffPost UK reached out to the Met for a comment.