The Metropolitan Police is “failing” in several areas of its work according to a watchdog report.
His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has raised “serious concerns” about the force's performance and said that Scotland Yard must make urgent improvements.
The watchdog graded Britain’s biggest police force as inadequate in the way it responds to the public, in findings published just days after Sir Mark Rowley took over as commissioner.
The report also said the force needs to improve the way it investigates crime, protects vulnerable people and manages offenders.
It also needs to develop a more positive workplace and make better use of resources, according to the findings.
The force was judged as adequate in two areas of its police work and found to be good in only one other.
Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said his concerns about the force had been growing for a “considerable time” and the watchdog’s latest report “raises serious concerns about how the force responds to the public and the level of understanding the force has about its demand and its workforce”.
Mr Parr said: “The Met must get better at how it responds to the public – currently, its call handling teams are unable to answer calls quickly enough. In addition, it isn’t correctly documenting the decisions of victims to withdraw from an investigation or to accept an out-of-court disposal.
“Recording victims’ wishes is vital to support the criminal justice process and to understand what is stopping victims from being able to complete the investigation process. The Met must improve in this area.”
The force currently answers 63.9% of 999 calls within 10 seconds, against a national target of 90%. It also sees 36.6% of calls to the non-emergency number 101 abandoned, compared with a goal of less than 10%.
The force must also better support its officers and staff, Mr Parr said, adding: “Investigations are not always reviewed or overseen properly. There’s an unfair allocation of work, which puts undue pressure on some staff. The force needs to properly understand demand to ensure it is allocating its staff and resources effectively.”
The HMICFRS report said: “We found that the high proportion of inexperienced staff and a lack of experienced tutors for detectives meant that supervisors were often teaching staff how to investigate crime rather than supervising them.”
Praise for operations surrounding the Queen's death
Mr Parr did stress the Met “operates under scrutiny other forces do not face” and praised how it led one of the biggest police operations in the UK’s history in the wake of the Queen’s death while also contending with an incident in which two of its officers were stabbed.
The findings also describe “many successes and some examples of innovation”, he said, adding the Met is “good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and has developed innovative techniques to improve how it collects evidence and identifies offenders, such as its new forensic technique for detecting the presence of blood on dark clothing and its new rapid testing kit for drink spiking”.
What's next for the Met?
The findings come three months after the Met was put into special measures by the watchdog amid “persistent concerns” about its performance, including incidents which “raised issues around confidence and trust”.
It will continue to face so-called enhanced monitoring by HMICFRS as part of the engage process, known as being put into special measures, Mr Parr said.
The force said it was “committed” to tackling the problems highlighted in the report, with new Deputy Commissioner Dame Lynne Owens saying their pledge to London was “more trust, less crime, high standards”.
The Met said the Commissioner had made it “very clear” the force needs to improve and has a plan to do so, while Dame Lynne said she and Sir Mark were both “determined to renew policing by consent, working with communities to deliver the kind of police service Londoners need and deserve”.
She added: “We will be using data and insight to improve the Met’s performance on crime fighting and prevention.
“We want to remove as many hurdles as possible to make it easier for hardworking officers to fight crime, deliver justice and support victims.”
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...