Baroness Casey’s review shows culture change ‘desperately needed across entire service’, says PFEW

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) says Baroness Casey’s independent review into the culture and standards of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has brought to the fore a “multitude of issues that require action across the police service”.

Mar 21, 2023
By Paul Jacques
PFEW national chair Steve Hartshorn

It says culture change across the entire service is “desperately needed”, as police officers, police staff and the public who are victims of discriminatory behaviour “are being failed nationwide, not just in the MPS”.

It was a sentiment shared by the Police Superintendents’ Association, which said it was “an incredibly sad day for policing when we read the detail found within Baroness Casey’s report”.

“Baroness Casey’s independent review into standards of behaviour and the internal culture of the MPS has brought to the fore a multitude of issues which require action across the police service in England and Wales,” said the PFEW.

The report highlighted how complainants of unacceptable behaviour are not believed and racist, misogynist, homophobic and other discriminatory acts are tolerated, ignored, or dismissed as ‘banter’.

It also found female officers and staff routinely face sexism and misogyny, and widespread bullying, particularly of those with protected characteristics.

This has been attributed to the “absence of vigilance” and an ingrained culture whereby speaking up is frowned upon, said the PFEW.

Furthermore, Baroness Casey’s report found officers and staff do not believe that action will be taken when concerns around conduct are raised, dissuading officers and staff from reporting misconduct.

The PFEW said these findings echo His Majesty’s Inspectorate of the Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services’ report on vetting, misconduct and misogyny, published in November last year.

Baroness Casey said: “We know many Met officers and staff uphold high professional standards and good conduct. We know that some of what they do is world-beating. But in order to support them and enable them to stay world-class we have to look at and accept what is wrong, learn from it, change and move forwards.”

PFEW national chair Steve Hartshorn, said: “The report has raised many serious issues that cannot be ignored and need to be properly addressed if officers can have confidence in the system in which they work and the public can once again have confidence in policing.

“The weight and seriousness of the findings demonstrate that, rightly, the focus now should be the fundamental changes that need to be undertaken to improve our service for the public and our members.

“Culture change is desperately needed across all forces to tackle these grievous issues, not just within the Met. This starts from the top through directive, ethical leadership. The PFEW will play its part working with chiefs across the 43 forces to reflect and take action on the recommendations the report has identified based on its conclusions.”

Mr Hartshorn added: “We must nurture a culture of learning and development, including better training for professional standards departments, to stamp out toxic attitudes and behaviours. The vast majority of officers come into the police service to protect the public and they act with integrity and respect.

“I fully agree with Baroness Casey that in order for us to stay world-class we have to accept what is wrong, learn from it, change and move forwards.”

The report also recommends the Government grants the Commissioner new powers, including providing chief constables the right of appeal to a Police Appeals Tribunal following a misconduct hearing when they conclude the sanction is inadequate.

The PFEW said it will be championing the continued use of legally qualified chairs (LQCs) who play a vital role in ensuring police misconduct hearings are fair and transparent.

Mr Hartshorn explained: “For the process to be transparent and just, it is vital LQCs, alongside panels consisting of police and members of the public, can do their job and not feel influenced by chief constables and undue political and social pressures.”

Paul Fotheringham, president of the Police Superintendents’ Association, said: “We know that the cultural issues it highlights are not limited to being only within the Met, and our association is fully supporting the national drive towards ensuring we work to the highest standards possible across policing.

“Every colleague deserves to feel safe, respected and valued when they go to work, and every member of our communities deserves to be served by a police service they trust and have confidence in.

“It is clear that there are people in policing who should not be part of our workforce, and we must get better at rooting them out and preventing them from ever becoming part of our service.

“I know that the huge majority of police officers and staff will share our disgust and sadness at the examples of behaviour shared today, and will be resolute in their determination to create a service we should feel rightly proud of.”

Police Now, the charity supporting the recruitment of police officers across England and Wales, said Baroness Casey’s review was a “critical moment for British policing that signifies “an essential catalyst for clear, demonstrable change and meaningful reform”.

While the report focuses entirely on the MPS, it agrees with the PFEW and Police Superintendents’ Association that “different aspects will resonate with forces across the country”.

A statement from Police Now’s executive team said: “As Baroness Casey has outlined, policing nationally must be alive to the fact that the service can attract the wrong type of people and perpetuate toxic cultures that push out the best.

“Bullying and predatory behaviour including racism, sexism, homophobia, and any other kind of hate have absolutely no place in society, let alone policing.

“When corruption and wrongdoing exist on a systemic scale within a service which is sworn to protect and serve the public, we risk destroying the very foundation and legitimacy of policing.

“We are committed to supporting police forces to recruit, train and inspire officers who can challenge cultures, cultivate new ideas and drive better outcomes for communities. But there must be no doubt that the challenge is enormous.

“This is a long-term mission for policing, and we can only begin to rebuild trust and confidence when the public can see swift action being taken, with clear positive impact.

“Every corner of policing, including Police Now, is responsible for making this happen. The whole sector must work together to expedite the much-needed transformation.”

The statement added: “Policing is listening. Baroness Casey has played a key role in supporting the commissioner and deputy commissioner with the daunting task ahead and they, alongside police leaders nationally, have Police Now’s support in bringing vital reform and difference to policing.

“Police Now has always placed neighbourhood and frontline policing at the very heart of our mission, and we are reassured that these are being highlighted and prioritised in this report. They have been de-prioritised for too long, the detrimental impact of this is clear – Londoners deserve better.

“Policing can attract the best of humanity. Those who want to make a positive difference in society, show enormous courage and bravery when protecting the public, and who always hold themselves to the highest standards.

“This report will be particularly hard for them to digest today, alongside the public they serve. We encourage every committed police officer to remind themselves of why they joined, the victims they have supported and the difference they have made.

“Together we must push forwards, for the sake of our communities, and work towards creating a truly inclusive and trustworthy police service that the public deserves and we can be proud of.”

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