Met Police 'in special measures' after scandals including Sarah Everard, Stephen Port and Child Q

Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen outlines what the move means for the Metropolitan Police

London's Metropolitan Police is being placed in special measures following a string of scandals including the murder of Sarah Everard, the Stephen Port inquiry and the strip search of Child Q.

The decision was made by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and means the force will be placed under close scrutiny.

In a brief statement, the body said: "We can confirm that we are now monitoring the Metropolitan Police Service through our Engage process, which provides additional scrutiny and support to help it make improvements."

According to the policing watchdog’s website, a force enters the engage process if it is “not responding to a cause of concern, or if it is not succeeding in managing, mitigating or eradicating the cause of concern”.

It means the Metropolitan Police will have to report to inspectors more regularly and may even be asked to meet specific crime-fighting targets.

'We share their disappointment'

The latest development means the Metropolitan Police is now officially one of Britain's failing police forces. 

In a statement, the Met said: "We recognise the cumulative impact of events and problems that the Met is dealing with. We understand the impact this has had on communities and we share their disappointment.

"We are determined to be a police service Londoners can be proud of. We are talking to the Inspectorate about next steps."

Home Secretary Priti Patel added: "The public put their trust in the police and rightly expect the country’s largest force to protect them effectively and carry out their duties to the highest professional standards.

"As home secretary, I have overseen the largest funding boost for policing in a decade, and the government has committed to an extra 20,000 police officers, with 2,599 already recruited by the Metropolitan Police. “I expect the police to get the basics right. It is clear the Metropolitan Police Service is falling short of these expectations which is why I support the action that HMICFRS has taken today to highlight their failings – and I expect the Met and the London mayor to take immediate action to begin addressing them."

Sir Mark replaces former Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick

'Child Q's family speak out after the announcement'

The family of Child Q, a black teenager who was strip-searched in Hackney by Met Police officers while she was menstruating, have welcomed the decision taken by the inspectorate.

The search of the teenager took place without another adult present and in the knowledge that she was menstruating, a safeguarding report found.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Child Q's family said: “The Metropolitan Police has shown time and again that it cannot do its job properly and its officers’ actions have had life-changing, devastating consequences for innocent people across London, including Child Q.

"It is no wonder that there is little to no faith left in the Metropolitan Police. “We hope the additional scrutiny of special measures will result in permanent change in the force’s culture and practices.”

Last week, the Met confirmed a further eight voluntary referrals involving strip searches of children have been made to the Independent Office of Police Conduct after two teenage girls were strip-searched by officers while they were also menstruating.

The special measures decision has come at a turbulent time for the force after former Met Police chief Dame Cressida Dick stepped down from her role as commissioner in April.

Her replacement is expected to be unveiled in the summer, with Sir Stephen House currently running the force as acting commissioner.

It is also the second force to be placed on special measures in recent years. The watchdog placed Greater Manchester Police on the "engage" process in 2020 after it failed to report 80,000 crimes.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he welcomed the decision after a "series of appalling scandals" which he said had "not only exposed deep cultural problems but have damaged the confidence of Londoners in the capital’s police service.”

Mr Khan added: “The decision by the HMIC to now move the Met into special measures has laid bare the substantial performance failings by the force. “As I have been saying for some time, Londoners deserve better. That’s why we now need to see nothing less than a new contract forged between the police and the public in London. “This means root and branch reforms and systemic change to the Met’s performance and culture.”

In an interview with broadcasters, Mr Khan said the decision "means I am now not the lone voice with Londoners".

"I welcome the decision today by the police inspectorate, in particular their support and external scrutiny," says London Mayor Sadiq Khan

He stressed the importance of installing a new commissioner who he says needs to be "reforming". "Over the course of the next few weeks, what I will be testing with both candidates is whether I am persuaded that they have the ability, skills, experience and understanding to be the reforming commissioner that London needs."

Earlier this month the London mayor pledged to block the appointment of a new Met commissioner unless they grasp the “true extent” of the organisation’s “deep cultural problems”. The home secretary has some responsibility for the Met, while Mr Khan is the police and crime commissioner for London.

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