Two Met police officers still in the job despite 'questionable' decision to use sex workers

24 October 2023, 08:29 | Updated: 24 October 2023, 09:54

Two serving Metropolitan police officers are still in their jobs despite being subject to a misconduct investigation or proceeding involving the alleged use of sex workers.
Two serving Metropolitan police officers are still in their jobs despite being subject to a misconduct investigation or proceeding involving the alleged use of sex workers. Picture: Alamy
Henry Riley

By Henry Riley

LBC can reveal that two serving Metropolitan Police officers are still in their jobs despite being subject to a misconduct investigation or proceeding involving the alleged use of sex workers. 

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The two officers, who the force says will not be identified as the misconduct complaints have not led to a formal public hearing, remain in the organisation and received reflective practice and management action rather than losing their jobs. 

Met Police Commander James Harman, who is head of the Anti-Corruption and Abuse Command, admitted that the use of a sex worker “is highly likely to be exploiting a vulnerable person, or funding organised crime, or both”. 

Over the past five years, six officers have been subject to similar investigations involving the alleged use of sex workers. 

In the case of the other four officers who are no longer in the force, they resigned before a misconduct proceeding was concluded, but the force admitted they would have been dismissed had they been serving officers. 

The fact that two of the officers remain, however, is putting pressure on the police. 

Andrew Wallis, the CEO of modern slavery and exploitation charity Unseen UK, told LBC that while it was "not illegal to buy or sell sex" it was "questionable" for police officers as "they do not know whether that individual is there willingly, whether they are under the control of somebody else, or whether are free to leave that situation". 

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LBC Exclusive: Two met officers not suspended despite using sex workers

Mr Wallis, who is also the co-chair of the Modern Slavery Engagement Forum at the Home Office, said: “There is a high likelihood that if you are purchasing sex, that the person could be in an exploitative situation”.

He added: "It is questionable why anybody should purchase sex, let alone police officers". 

Indeed the officers are also facing pressure from within the force.

Commander James Harman said: "The public trust that police officers – on and off duty – do everything they can to protect and defend vulnerable people at risk of exploitation, and to have no part in supporting the violent criminal network that we know often lie behind sex work."

He added: "In most cases [the use of sex workers] will be treated as a serious breach of misconduct which if proven could lead to dismissal. We do recognise that this is a stronger approach than the Met has taken in the past." 

Phill Matthews, who was until last year was the Chairman of the Conduct and Performance Committee at the Police Federation, said that it could put an officers vetting in doubt. 

Mr Matthews said: “If somebody is using sex workers on any basis, it is going to put their trustworthiness in doubt.

“They’re going to have some real issues over their vetting because it leaves them open to coercion, distortion, corruption, influence from organised criminal groups, and in that case the police should be making sure they can have complete trust in those individuals, and where they can’t they should be getting rid of them".

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: "The Mayor is leading from the front and ensuring that the far-reaching systematic and cultural reforms taking place under Sir Mark Rowley’s leadership are raising standards in the Met police, rooting out those officers who are unfit to serve, ensuring stricter background checks and supporting the brave individuals who speak up about unacceptable behaviour.

"The Met is tightening its misconduct process so that, in most cases, any alleged or actual instance of a Met officer or staff member using sex workers will now be treated as a serious breach of misconduct which if proven could lead to dismissal. But there is more work to do."

Conservative Mayoral candidate Susan Hall told LBC: "The Met Police has lost the trust of Londoners and desperately needs reform, to root out toxic officers and get the police back on the beat solving crimes. Sadiq Khan has been asleep at the wheel, more interested in schmoozing with celebrities and selling his book than doing his job."

Liberal Democrat MP and former Police Officer Wendy Chamberlain said: "My initial response is that I am not entirely surprised. Here were are several months on from the Casey Report, which showed widespread misogyny within the Metropolitan Police, and if we have processes within the Metropolitan Police that don't result in the expulsion of officers accused of such behaviour, that suggests the work that the Met is doing to root out misogyny clearly still has some way to go."

She added that the comments from Commander Harman "sound like an acknowledgement of failure in relation to their misconduct procedures... if the Commander believes that is the case, why are these individuals still in the job, even after they have gone through misconduct"?

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