In response to the publication of Baroness Louise Casey’s review into the Met, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, said: “The findings of Louise Casey’s year-long review could not be more distressing or damning: “institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia” which we see play out every day has extremely serious consequences for victims and survivors.
“The experiences of victims and survivors laid out in this report are profoundly appalling and incredibly harrowing. They reflect what we hear from survivors daily especially minoritised survivors who face additional barriers to reporting.
“For many, this report will serve to vindicate and recognise their experiences, which have for far too long, been silenced and ignored.
“I am glad the Met is acknowledging the scale of the challenge it faces. This must be a watershed moment. I will arrange to meet the Met Commissioner, Mark Rowley, to ensure that there is demonstrable progress and scrutiny. The time for lip service is over.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the operational focus on domestic abuse and serious violence but as this review makes clear, there is no evidence that has been backed up in reality with resources.
“This must be rectified as forces work to implement the serious violence duty and prioritise responses to domestic abuse as part of the Strategic Policing Requirement.
“The establishment of the Met’s Domestic Abuse and Sexual Offences Investigation Unit is a positive, but I want to see more specialist domestic abuse protection units across England and Wales; more robust action to rid forces of police perpetrators and more stringent vetting procedures to stop abusers entering forces in the first place.
“I don’t believe this is just a Met issue. Cultural change is required across all forces and that will need strong leadership from every constabulary and from the Home Secretary which I will raise with her at our meeting next week.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The Domestic Abuse Commissioner welcomes the publication of the Casey Review and commends the extensive nature of the work conducted by Baroness Casey and her team. The Review is rightly bold in its findings and recommendations. The experiences of victims and survivors laid out in this report are profoundly appalling and distressing. For many individuals, this report will serve to vindicate and recognise their experiences, which have for far too long, been silenced and ignored.
- The Commissioner is grateful to all the officers who cooperated with the Review and spoke candidly about their experience on the force. Most importantly, we laud the bravery of all the survivors who reported the abuse, racism, bullying and harassment they experienced at the hands of Metropolitan Police Officers. It is deeply upsetting to hear that so many of them were let down when they sought to make this abuse end and see the perpetrators being held to account.
- As recognised by the Review, domestic abuse and sexual violence offences make up almost a fifth (17%) of the Metropolitan Police’s work. Findings from research conducted by our office found that 43% of survivors first report the abuse they experience to the police. Ensuring a robust response to domestic abuse should be a core priority for the police, in accordance with the Serious Violence Duty and the Strategic Policing Requirement. It is disappointing to hear that the Met’s response to domestic abuse and wider forms of violence against women and girls has been lacklustre, with the Met failing to protect both female employees and members of the public from police perpetrators of domestic abuse and those who abuse their position for sexual purposes.
- The findings in this report make an irrefutable case that the need that reform is nothing short of urgent. The Commissioner is pleased to see the commitment by the Metropolitan Police to deliver change to ensure all victims and survivors of domestic abuse receive the response they deserve when reporting incidents to the police. The Commissioner has met with Sir Mark Rowley and will arrange another meeting in the near future to discuss how we can best feed into the reform work required by the Met.
- It would be remiss to believe that these issues are limited to the Metropolitan Police. As highlighted by the Review, many of these issues are caused by the fundamental nature and culture of policing which permeates across all forces. Police chiefs across England and Wales must use this Review as an opportunity to consider the learnings which they can implement within their own forces to ensure that wholesale meaningful change takes place across all levels of policing.
- The Commissioner welcomes the swift action taken by the Met to establish Domestic Abuse and Sexual Offences Investigation Unit to investigate allegations of police perpetrated domestic abuse and sexual violence within their ranks. Their work is crucial to ensuring that perpetrators are rooted out of the force. Having met with unit leaders, we are confident of the diligence with which these investigations are being approached. Such units should be created within all forces across England and Wales to ensure that any investigations of police perpetrated abuse are robustly investigated.
- Our Office supports the calls by the Review for greater levels of resource investment into Public Protection Units. The work carried out by these units is vital for the safety of survivors and the wider public, yet they are continually neglected in management and resources. Many of the officers working within these units work tirelessly to move investigations forward, often managing extensive caseloads under high levels of pressure, receiving insufficient training and seeing their colleagues regularly leave their unit. Extensive investment is needed to ensure that these units reflect the specialist nature of this work; they must be well-led and adequately staffed, with officers receiving comprehensive trauma-informed training on domestic abuse, as well as being able to access occupational therapy support.
- Achieving cultural change requires strong leadership, which is open to accountability and scrutiny. This does not just fall within the remit of the Met Commissioner; it is down to every officer with line management responsibility to look within their teams and consider how they can promote a culture of respect, equality and openness, where people feel able to report misconduct and feel confident that action will be taken.
- Strong national leadership is needed from the Government to provide oversight and accountability of the reforms required by all police forces in England and Wales. We cannot have more reviews and reports which lay forgotten following publication. There needs to be oversight on how recommendations are actioned and implemented, with regular progress reports on whether improvements are taking place, with forces who do not demonstrate meaningful change being subject to further scrutiny.
Wider measures we are calling for:
More robust measures need to be implemented where an officer is accused of Police Perpetuated Domestic Abuse (PPDA), including the removal of officers’ warrant cards pending investigation to prevent them from using their position to cause any further harm whilst they are being investigated.
- Statutory changes are needed to policing regulations to prevent perpetrators of domestic abuse and sexual violence from serving on the police. Where someone is found to have committed an act of PPDA, they should be removed from the force, rather than reassigned to a different part of the force.
- The Domestic Abuse Commissioner would also like to see the implementation of regulations mandating of more extensive vetting procedures for all staff and officers, which looks at a wider range of intelligence sources, such as the Police National Database (PND), to catch perpetrators at an earlier stage and create a power for people who fail police vetting to be fired.