The UK’s largest police force has been placed under special measures after a string of failures.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) said the Metropolitan Police Service is being closely watched after facing extensive criticism following the death of Sarah Everard, who was kidnapped and murdered serving Met police officer Wayne Couzens, and the Charing Cross scandal at the police station.
Home Secretary Priti Patel and London Mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed the move.
A spokeswoman for HMICFRS said: “We can confirm that we are now following the Metropolitan Police Service through our Engage process, which provides additional monitoring and support to make improvements.”
According to the police watchdog’s website, a force enters the process if it “does not respond to a cause of concern, or fails to control, reduce or eliminate the cause of concern”.
It adds: “In the Engage Phase, the Armed Forces will develop an improvement plan to address the specific cause(s) of concern that have placed them in the advanced phase of the monitoring process. The force may receive support from outside organizations such as the College of Policing or the National Police Chiefs’ Council, mediated by HMICFRS.”
The move comes at a turbulent time for the Met, after former chief executive Dame Cressida Dick resigned from her position as commissioner in April.
Her replacement is expected to be unveiled in the summer, with Sir Stephen House acting as Commissioner.
Last week, the Met confirmed eight more voluntary referrals related to searches of children to the Independent Office for Police Conduct after two teenage girls were searched by officers while they were menstruating.
The family of Kind Q, one of the teens, applauded the decision.
They said in a statement: “The Metropolitan Police has shown time and again that it cannot do its job properly and the actions of its officers have had life-changing, devastating consequences for innocent people across London, including Child Q. It is not wonder there is little to no confidence in the Metropolitan Police anymore.
“We hope that the additional scrutiny of special measures will result in a permanent change in force culture and practices.”
It is the second force to be put on special measures in recent years. The watchdog placed Greater Manchester Police in the Engage Trial in 2020 after failing to report 80,000 crimes.
Mina Smallman, the mother of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, said it was “better late than never” for the Met to be involved in the process.
She was critical of the force after two officers were jailed for sharing images of her daughter’s bodies on WhatsApp.
Ms. Smallman added that she had previously called for special measures for the Met.
She told Channel 4 News: “I am terribly sorry that some of the things I highlighted, with our daughters’ selfies, if they had acted faster, Couzens might have stopped and Sarah would still be with us.”
She added that people have challenged the Met about her practices since the 1993 murder of Stephen Lawrence.
“It’s the kind of paper that you put over the cracks and try to look like you’re perfect,” she said. “And the only people who get away with that are the people who are the perpetrators.”
A Met spokesperson said: “We recognize the cumulative impact of events and issues facing the Met. We understand the impact this has had on communities and we share their disappointment.
“We are determined to be a police force that Londoners can be proud of. We are discussing next steps with the inspectorate.”