The following Statement was made in the House of Commons on Wednesday 23 March.
“With permission, Madam Deputy Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on the publication of the report of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services into the Metropolitan Police’s counter-corruption arrangements.
In June last year, the Home Secretary came to the House to report on the findings of the Daniel Morgan independent panel. The panel’s report detailed a litany of historical failings by the Metropolitan Police in respect of multiple investigations—failings that irreparably damaged the chances of a successful prosecution for Daniel Morgan’s brutal killing. My thoughts, and I am sure all Members’ thoughts, remain with Daniel’s family. I first met them over a decade ago.
As part of the Government’s response to that report, the Home Secretary commissioned the inspectorate to undertake an inspection of the Metropolitan Police’s current approach to counter-corruption arrangements. I should note at the outset that the inspectorate did make some positive findings. The Metropolitan Police remains an exemplar in investigating serious corruption and has good arrangements in place to support whistleblowers. It has also almost eliminated the backlog of officers awaiting security vetting, which was identified as a problem in a previous report. The inspectorate found no evidence that the force deliberately sought to frustrate the work of the Daniel Morgan independent panel, but the broad thrust and overarching conclusions of the report are troubling.
This inspection was commissioned to provide assurance for Daniel Morgan’s family and the wider public that the force had learned from failings in the past and had robust arrangements in place to prevent, identify and tackle corruption in its ranks. I am afraid that it is deeply disappointing that, in the light of the findings of this report, I cannot provide this assurance to the House. Indeed, the inspectorate felt that the Metropolitan Police approach suggested
‘a degree of indifference to the risk of corruption’.
This is alarming.
Corruption poses a significant threat wherever it rears its ugly head. If it is allowed to take root and wrap its tentacles around organisations and people, the potential impact is profound. This is especially true for policing—an institution that relies so heavily on public confidence and trust. The inspectorate’s report outlines a range of issues across all the systems that police forces employ to identify and manage corruption risks. This includes a failure to properly monitor recruits who could pose risks and to routinely share routine intelligence on officers.
The report paints a worrying picture of the Metropolitan Police’s approach to exhibit and property management, creating opportunities for those tempted to abuse their position, and posing a risk to investigations.
The inspectorate found that there were more than 2,000 warrant cards unaccounted for. This is particularly concerning, coming as it does just over a year after a police officer abused his position to murder a young woman in a heinous crime that shocked our country to its core.
The report concludes that the Metropolitan Police cannot confirm whether officers working in the most sensitive areas of policing have the right levels of vetting. Furthermore, despite repeated recommendations and good progress made in this area in other forces across England and Wales, the force cannot proactively monitor its IT systems—a crucial tool in identifying corruption. In total, the report contains five causes of concern, two areas for improvement and 20 recommendations for change.
Yesterday, the Home Secretary wrote to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and the Mayor of London to set out her expectation that they respond to her with a clear action plan to remedy these failings. I welcome the deputy commissioner’s statement yesterday, recognising the need for comprehensive action. I put particular emphasis here on the responsibilities of the Mayor of London. Beyond the statutory responsibility on the mayor to respond to the inspectorate’s report within 56 days, it is incumbent on City Hall to hold the Metropolitan Police’s leadership to account for responding to past failings. This clearly has not happened here, and I urge the mayor to work with the Home Office to ensure that a new commissioner can address these failings.
As she said in her Statement to the House last year, the Home Secretary intends to update the House on the progress made in responding to the wide range of issues raised in the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel report. The Met Police published their response last Friday to the recommendations directed at them and, now that we have the inspectorate’s report, we expect to provide our overarching update soon.
Finally, I remind the House that the Home Secretary has also commissioned HMICFRS to undertake a wider inspection of vetting, counter-corruption and forces’ approach to identifying and tackling misogyny in their ranks. That is looking across England and Wales and will provide a crucial evidence base for part 2 of the Angiolini inquiry and inform any broader policy or legislative changes that might be required.
The report comes at a time when the Metropolitan Police are under intense scrutiny. I have found myself at the Dispatch Box discussing the force’s culture and standards all too frequently in recent months. As someone who over the years has worked alongside the Met and seen at first hand the incredible things that they are capable of achieving, I know there are thousands of officers, staff and volunteers across the organisation who perform their duties with skill, professionalism and pride every day. However, when things go wrong, it is vital to acknowledge that fact and take every necessary step to ensure that the failings of the past are not repeated. I commend this Statement to the House.”
In July last year, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary was asked by the Home Secretary not to reinvestigate the Daniel Morgan murder but to consider opportunities for organisational learning from all the Daniel Morgan investigations and reviews, and to assess how the Metropolitan Police Service responded to them. In other words, the investigation set out to establish what the force had learned from its failings and whether they could occur again.
This discussion on the Statement will perhaps inevitably tend to concentrate on the serious adverse findings of the HMICFRS investigation. However, the investigation comments favourably that the Met Police force
“solves the vast majority of homicides it investigates … The force’s capability to investigate the most serious corruption allegations is particularly impressive … Other forces regularly call on the Metropolitan Police’s expertise. The force’s confidential reporting line also works well. The force has even introduced a dedicated team to support ‘whistle-blowers’ … the Metropolitan Police has … greatly reduced the number of its personnel who have not been security vetted.”
The Daniel Morgan panel concluded that the Metropolitan Police Service was “institutionally corrupt” but the HMICFRS investigation
“found no evidence of any deliberate or co-ordinated campaign to intentionally frustrate the Panel’s work”
and concluded that the Metropolitan Police Service was not institutionally corrupt, based on the evidence that it had seen.
The investigation report contains five causes of concern, 20 recommendations for change and two areas for improvement. The five causes of concern are in addition to other relevant causes of concern raised in previous inspections. I am not going to go through all the recommendations, but the investigation report concluded that there were
“serious areas of concern which have been, and continue to be, present in the MPS. It is essential that the MPS should be more open to criticism and prepared to change where necessary, including by implementing our recommendations. A further failure to do so (without good reason) may well justify the label of institutional corruption in due course.”
The foreword to the investigation report states:
“In too many respects, the findings from our inspection paint a depressing picture. The force has sometimes behaved in ways that make it appear arrogant, secretive and lethargic. Its apparent tolerance of the shortcomings we describe in this report suggests a degree of indifference to the risk of corruption … If public confidence in the Metropolitan Police is to be improved, they”—
that is a reference to the 20 recommendations for change—
“should be among the Commissioner’s highest priorities.”
Our thoughts remain in particular with Daniel Morgan’s family, for whom this report will surely be deeply upsetting—I congratulate them, however, on their doggedness in pursuing justice.
I shall make a few points. First, the Met Police Service should accept all the recommendations included in the report and implement them in full. We need an overhaul of police standards, including reviews of vetting, training, misconduct proceedings and the use of social media. The forthcoming appointments to head the inspectorate and the Met Police will be crucial to restoring trust in the police to the level we should all wish to see.
Running down police numbers year on year, totalling some 20,000, and then trying to build up the number again, all over the past decade, will, frankly, not have helped and will have played its part in creating uncertainty, not least in relation to resources, for those who lead our police forces. In that connection, the inspectorate has identified problems with policing on a national basis.
Much needs to be done. Perhaps we now need to look with greater clarity at the role and responsibility of PCCs in relation to the way their police forces are run and function. At present, this appears to be rather too grey an area. We seem, too, to have had and still have a lot of inquiries and investigations under way into the Met Police and the police on a national basis—perhaps too many.
Leadership and action are needed, and to provide that nationally, the Home Secretary is the key player. As the current crisis around the police nationally, not least in London, is so concerning, that action is required now, not after a further delay of many months or years awaiting the outcome of endless further reports and investigations. It is time for political leadership, which is what Ministers nationally are meant to provide. So what specific action does the Home Secretary intend to take now?
I conclude by saying that, despite this largely adverse investigation report, I place on record again our support for the crucial work that the vast majority of police officers do on behalf of all of us, every day of the year, up and down the country. We all need to work together to restore widespread confidence in the unique relationship between the public and police, and in policing by consent.
My Lords, I associate myself with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, in relation to the Daniel Morgan family, and remind the House that I was a Metropolitan Police officer for more than 30 years, holding the equivalent of deputy chief constable rank when I was forced out of the police service for being open and transparent about what was going on inside the Metropolitan Police Service—which I will refer to as the MPS.
Honest, decent police officers are being let down by the corrupt few, and by senior officers who do not take corruption seriously enough. As the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, said, some positive claims are made in the HMICFRS report about the MPS supporting whistleblowers and its capability to investigate the “most serious corruption”. Can the Minister give an example of the result of an investigation where a whistleblower has been supported, and an example of the successful prosecution of a case of the “most serious corruption”? It is one thing to point to systems and capabilities; it is quite another to prove that they are effective.
The rest of the report is devastating. In response to the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel report, the MPS claimed:
“The Met is working hard to root out corruption.”
Instead, HMICFRS says:
“We set out to establish what the force has learned from its failings and whether they could recur. We looked for evidence that someone, somewhere … had adopted the view that ‘this must never happen again’”—
but it could not find anyone.
In a catalogue of failings—I have time to mention only a few of them—HMICFRS found that: the MPS does not know whether all its sensitive posts, such as those for child protection, major investigation and informant handling, are filled by people who have been security cleared; 2,000 warrant cards of police officers who have left the MPS are unaccounted for, which these former officers could use to masquerade as serving police officers, with the potential for another Sarah Everard-type tragedy; and hundreds of items including cash, jewellery and drugs could not be accounted for, meaning that vital evidence could have been disposed of by corrupt officers. It also found that officers could be pocketing money and valuables and, potentially, dealing in illegal drugs that had been seized from criminals. This has happened before and could very easily, apparently, be happening again. I could go on, but there is no time.
“Since 2016, we have repeatedly raised concerns with the Metropolitan Police about certain aspects of its counter-corruption work, including … its failure to adopt … approved counter-corruption recording methods … Our advice largely went unheeded.”
If this was a local authority department, the Minister responsible would have placed it in special measures and sent a team in to take over the running of it. Instead, the Minister in the other place tries to blame the Mayor of London.
The Metropolitan Police has national responsibility for such important issues as the security of the Royal Family and protection of government Ministers, and for terrorism. That is why the Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner are in law appointed by the Home Secretary, having regard to the views of the Mayor of London. Even if the Government insist that responsibility lies with the Mayor of London, their inability to take direct action is the result of the system of police and crime commissioners, which includes elected mayors, that the Conservative Government introduced. So which is it? If the Government can directly intervene, why will they not, and if they cannot, when are they going to change the system of police and crime commissioners so that they can?
The security of this country is at stake, let alone the trust and confidence of Londoners, and the Government wash their hands of it. When are the Government going to take some responsibility and take action to deal with this totally unacceptable situation?
My Lords, I thank both noble Lords for the points that they have made. I join them in conveying our thoughts to the Daniel Morgan family, some 35 years after their trauma and heartache began.
On the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, about the reply to the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, the Home Secretary will do so once she has received responses from the Metropolitan Police Service and others. It will be done as soon as she possibly can after that. He also made a point about whether the Metropolitan Police Service is institutionally corrupt. The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, pointed to the fact, which I would agree with, that most police officers are honest and very hard-working people. They are trying every day to keep the British public safe and we should not tar them all with the same brush, because that would be demoralising and not true, although I recognise what the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel said.
It is also interesting to read in the report that some of the processes that the Metropolitan Police Service is not following are actually evident in good practice across the country. Nevertheless, the Home Secretary has commissioned ongoing work for police forces across England and Wales.
On the points about arrogance, secrecy and confidence in the police, I have stood too many times at this Dispatch Box and heard those words quoted back at me. It is evident that although this report provides a really important start in trying to improve things within the Metropolitan Police Service, there is an enormously long way to go. I totally agree with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, about forthcoming appointments for the Met commissioner and the head of HMICFRS; I expect both appointments to be made shortly.
In answer to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, about what the Home Secretary is doing now, he will know about the work she commissioned from Dame Elish Angiolini, which addresses several points mentioned today, including culture and corruption, and the work that is ongoing with the noble Baroness, Lady Casey. As I said, the Home Secretary has also commissioned ongoing work with HMICFRS in these areas.
Moving on to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, the question about examples of whistleblowers being supported is very interesting. I suspect that, by the very nature of the investigations that take place, we would not necessarily publicly hear about whistleblowers. However, this area will probably be touched upon in the work that Dame Elish Angiolini and the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, are doing. I wholeheartedly support his dismay at the comment made in the HMICFRS report that nobody said that this must never happen again; that is depressing.
On the point the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, made about sensitive posts and vetting, the report clearly commented on sensitive posts and said that vetting needs to be looked at across those posts because the parameters are not clear. I also support his point about money and gifts, because the position is by no means clear in the Metropolitan Police Service. I know it is a matter for them, but police forces will want to look at that because, again, the approach is by no means consistent.
My Lords, Alastair Morgan, the indefatigable brother of Daniel Morgan, was my constituent for 22 years when I was a Member of Parliament. I fought for many years, through a succession of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police, to try to secure justice for Daniel Morgan’s family. Sadly, that has not been achieved, even now. The independent report last year and this report from the inspectorate make a series of useful and important recommendations; there will be lessons to be learned. However, I am worried that the Statement says:
“The Metropolitan police remains an exemplar in investigating serious corruption”.—[Official Report, Commons, 23/3/22; col. 374.]
This was not the case for Daniel Morgan, and it seems to me that there is a whiff of complacency about a statement of that kind. Through it all, I am distressed that justice has not been achieved for Daniel Morgan’s family. Will it ever be achieved?
I think my right honourable friend the Policing Minister asked that question yesterday. It is a very sad question to have to ask, 35 years on. In terms of the MPS being an exemplar in investigating serious corruption, this is talking about corruption within the police. Obviously the two are different things, but I hope, as my right honourable friend the Policing Minister said yesterday, that we will get closure for his family, because it must have been an agony for the last 35 years. I commend the noble Lord for the work that he has done on this.
My Lords, I want to echo from these Benches our concern for the Daniel Morgan family, and also to reiterate my interest in policing ethics at both force and national level, as set out in the register.
I am particularly interested in the comments on vetting made in the report. In Greater Manchester we commissioned our own investigation into the force’s vetting procedures a few years ago. While on the whole that was satisfactory, as the report here has done, it identified that people from UK minority ethnic backgrounds were disproportionately getting vetted out of the system, both at recruitment level and promotion level.
I am grateful that there is talk of a wider piece of research into vetting nationally. I would appreciate some reassurances from the Minister that its terms of reference will ensure that any recommendations that are made fully bear in mind that we must have a police force that replicates the diversity of our population, including ethnic diversity.
I agree with the right reverend Prelate and I think I pointed out, either yesterday or the day before, that one thing we can be positive about is the increasing representation of BAME communities within the Metropolitan Police force.
My Lords, I refer to my policing interests in the register. I hope there is no satisfaction within the Metropolitan Police that the inspectorate has not confirmed the findings of the independent inquiry that the force is institutionally corrupt—although the inspectorate has said that it is not yet in a position to make a final judgment on that.
A point has just been made about vetting. I have just concluded an inquiry looking at London’s preparedness on terrorism issues. I looked at some of the vetting issues, but not in the detail that some of the new reviews will be going into. I came across one firearms officer who told me that he had not been repeat vetted for 21 years. So the issue is not just about vetting to get in or when a new role is taken on; it is about how often it is repeated. I wonder whether the Minister will say whether the Home Office or the College of Policing will be giving clearer guidance on that.
My second point is that 20 years ago, when I was responsible for overseeing the work of the Metropolitan Police, we introduced a process of random integrity testing. If a police officer received a bribe, they would not know whether it was being proffered by a criminal or perhaps by the force’s own professional standards department. At some point in the intervening period—I do not know who was mayor at the time—that was stopped in favour of intelligence-led integrity testing. Will the Minister be trying to go back to the process of random integrity testing? I think that is important.
I have one final point, if I am not overstaying my role here. We have talked about the problems with warrant cards. We talked about the murder of Sarah Everard. Why is it not possible for every warrant card to have a RFID chip in it? That would mean that it would be possible to track exactly where the cards were and what they were being used for at the time.
My Lords, I was not thinking so much about the warrant card in tracking, but if I get sacked as a Minister tomorrow because I have done so badly at this Statement, the minute I get sacked I can no longer get into the Home Office. I have been thinking of all sorts of practical solutions to this. I think it is a very serious question for the police to answer, given that there are 2,000 cards out there; it is not just 200, it is 2,000. I totally accept the noble Lord’s point about finding innovative solutions.
On the repeat vetting, the Government expect the College of Policing to consider the findings from this inspection and other relevant inquiries and then to update its guidance appropriately, as the noble Lord said. We will now consider next steps, following the wider vetting inspection being carried out by the inspectorate. We want to make clear that the Met must take immediate steps to safeguard its workforce and, as a result, the wider public.
On the noble Lord’s first point about whether there is any satisfaction in the Metropolitan Police about this report, it would take a strange person to find any satisfaction in this report.
My Lords, back in 2000, when I was first elected to the London Assembly, the then Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, appointed me to the Metropolitan Police Authority under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Harris. At that point, the case of Daniel Morgan was a 13 year-old scandal, and now it is a 35 year-old scandal—and still no one has been arrested, charged or whatever. We ought, if only in Daniel Morgan’s memory, to try to create a situation where the police can be more respected.
I mention the vetting procedures, because obviously you need to vet new recruits extremely carefully and carry on vetting during the lifetime of police officers. But there is also the whole training issue: you have to train officers to be responsible and honest and to have a duty of candour, which was one of the recommendations. There has to be zero tolerance of the sort of misogyny, sexism and racism that we have seen repetitively over the past few years. On a final point, I do not trust the current commissioner to achieve these things, so the faster we get a new commissioner, the better.
My Lords, I have touched on the new commissioner, and I expect that appointment to be very soon indeed. On the duty of candour, as the noble Baroness might have heard me say, last year we introduced a duty of co-operation, which is very strict in its application and can result in sanction or, indeed, sacking for those who do not abide by it.
Vetting has come up in every single instance when I have stood up to talk about the Metropolitan Police over the last few months. On the number, in 2018 there was a backlog of 16,000 people waiting to be vetted. That number is now 671, so in terms of throughput that is an encouraging figure. Forty files were reviewed by the inspectorate to see whether the checks recommended by the College of Policing, through its authorised professional practice on vetting, had been completed, and they had in every single case.
The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, talked about people working in more sensitive posts, and I think I gave a response to that. I have also talked about the ongoing work commissioned by the Home Secretary, and the work by Dame Elish and the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, which touches on the points that the noble Baroness talked about. That does not take away from the point that vetting comes up time and again, and it is clearly an area that needs to be investigated and addressed.
What happened in the Daniel Morgan case was utterly unforgivable. In view of that and other dreadful scandals, why is there no plan for reform to bring about the far-reaching change that is needed and to rebuild confidence in the Metropolitan Police throughout our community, particularly among women and our black compatriots?
I think there is no doubt that that is the conclusion that all in this House have reached. I have talked about the various inspections that are going on, but I also want to come back to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and pay tribute to most members of the Metropolitan Police, who do a fantastic job; we were just commemorating the anniversary of the death of PC Palmer the other day. Most police do an excellent job, but there is so much work to be done to restore confidence and trust in the police.
My Lords, obviously, our thoughts are with Daniel Morgan’s family. I speak as somebody who does not have detailed knowledge of policing. Like, I guess, millions of people, I find the situation difficult to understand. In our schools, for example—the area where I come from—nobody is allowed to work unless they have a safeguarding qualification, a DBS safeguarding check. However, we hear that police officers and people working in the police service do not necessarily have that check. Nobody would be allowed to work in a school if they had a criminal record, and yet we find that some police and ancillary staff have criminal records. If it happened in a school, the head teacher or the principal would be immediately disciplined. Why does this happen in the Met? It is not difficult to ensure that everyone has a safeguarding qualification or to check that everybody does not have a police record—and if they do, they should not be there. Somebody has to take responsibility, and if that responsibility is taken, the person who allowed that has to step down.
On the back of all the discussions we have been having today, it is written in statute that within 56 days the Mayor of London and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police will have to respond with an action plan to deal with all the issues we have talked about today. There will be an expectation that the recommendations be carried out within 12 months. In fact, the Home Secretary has made it clear that such is the seriousness of this that she hopes that some of that action plan will be taken forward within the 56 days.
My Lords, I will say a couple of things as a techie. First, RFID chips do not transmit on to any remote system—they work only in proximity, so they are checked only when you go through something. Therefore, you cannot track people through an RFID chip on a card. It is simply presented to a device, so you cannot track people around the place. It sounds like a great idea but it does not totally work; you would need to track people’s mobile phones, for example.
The next problem is the DBS check, which tells you only if someone has not been caught yet; it does not tell you what they are up to now. Another problem is the definition of a criminal offence. Not having a television licence gives you a criminal record, as does fishing without a licence. A lot of things give you a criminal record which really should not be there, so it is a tricky having a blanket thing saying that if people fail a DBS check, they should not be there. We should probably look at that system and have two different categories: one for the serious things where you really need to worry about whether you employ people, and another for the things which, to be honest, are trivial—they are almost statutory offences but yet they are still criminal offences. There should be a review of that.
I take the points the noble Earl makes about the various technological solutions. Of course, we will consider any recommendations made by the Angiolini inquiry in this space. I would also say to the noble Earl that police vetting is a lot more thorough than DBS checks. However, there is definitely more to come on this, and I look forward to some of these things being addressed both in the short term and within the next year.
My Lords, I spent 32 years as a CID officer in the Metropolitan Police as a crime investigator and a crime manager. Many of those years were spent on the counterterrorism command, and I worked with very good, diligent police officers. On the point about corruption, the latest HMICFRS report rejected the independent panel’s assertions that the Metropolitan Police is institutionally corrupt, and I welcome that, although of course I recognise the many other issues that exist around the Metropolitan Police. Does the Minister agree that a lot of those issues come from lack of training? What more can the Home Office do with regard to training, which I feel has deteriorated badly over the years within the Metropolitan Police in particular?
My noble friend makes a very good point because in reading this report I observed that the Metropolitan Police is very good at doing the big things and that some of the important details, such as vetting, internal corruption, gifts, evidence and the things my noble friend talks about, were less focused on. That is something that the Metropolitan Police will have to answer through its action plans in the short and long term. On training, I expect to see it much more consistent throughout the force, but I think that perhaps in focusing on the big things the Metropolitan Police has neglected important details of the job.
With the leave of the House, I shall ask a question for clarification. I thought I heard the Minister say that the Home Secretary would respond once the Metropolitan Police had given its response to the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel report. My understanding was that the Metropolitan Police gave its response last week, which was then largely contradicted by the HMICFRS report. If I am right, can the Minister tell us when the Home Secretary is likely to respond to both reports?
I was responding to the response to the findings of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel report. I understand that the Home Secretary will be returning to the House to update on progress once she has received responses from the MPS and others.
House adjourned at 6.43 pm.