Met Police’s troubles 'not just down to a few bad apples’, top cop admits

20 April 2022, 15:38

Sir Stephen House, the acting head of the Metropolitan Police, said the force&squot;s troubles is not down to just "a few bad apples".
Sir Stephen House, the acting head of the Metropolitan Police, said the force's troubles is not down to just "a few bad apples". Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Cultural problems in the Metropolitan Police are not down to just "a few bad apples", the acting head of the force has admitted following a string of scandals.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Sir Stephen House, who is temporarily leading the under-fire force, said they are trying to root out unacceptable behaviour "as fast as possible".

The force has been heavily criticised for a number of scandals, including the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving officer Wayne Couzens.

The strip-search of a black school girl who was menstruating, and a damning report into offensive messages exchanged by officers at Charing Cross station, have also caused public outcry.

The Met's former commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick - who led the force for five years - quit in February when the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he had lost confidence in her leadership.

A spokesperson for Mr Khan said the next commissioner "must have a plan to restore the trust and confidence of Londoners".

Read more: Cressida Dick: The string of scandals that left the Met chief no choice but to quit

Read more: Priti Patel 'blindsided by Cressida resignation' sparking row with Sadiq Khan

Dame Cressida Dick leaves New Scotland Yard

Sir Stephen is leading the Met until a permanent replacement is appointed in the summer.

He said his aim is to help eradicate unacceptable behaviour amongst officers, saying there is a "wider problem" within the organisation.

Giving evidence to MPs at the Home Affairs Select Committee, Sir Stephen claimed there are plenty of people who share the same positive goal at Scotland Yard.

"There is a significant campaign within the organisation to deal with this completely unacceptable behaviour, to root it out and to exit those people who are exhibiting that behaviour from the organisation as fast as possible and in the right way," he told MPs.

Asked if it is "just a few people", he replied: "People have talked about a few bad apples, quite clearly that's not the situation at all, it's not a few bad apples.

Read more: 'It's wholly unfair': Met Federation chief defends Cressida Dick after resignation

Cressida Dick resigns with ‘huge sadness and regret’

"You can't simply say that Wayne Couzens and a couple of other people have done something wrong - that's been the spearhead of the problem, I would suggest, but there is a wider issue within the organisation which we acknowledge and we are dealing with."

A strategic review of policing last month suggested that officers should have to hold licences that would be renewed every five years.

Sir Stephen said he would "not be opposed" to a scheme similar to that used for doctors.

"Every now and again, checking that somebody is still up to snuff, doing things in the way they should do, is aware of recent legal developments because the law changes all the time, is not a bad thing to do," he said.

"We would certainly expect doctors to know what the recent developments are, what medication et cetera, what treatments, we should expect the same of police officers, and there is constant change."

But Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe, who also gave evidence on Wednesday, stressed that it should not "become a bureaucratic exercise in and of itself".

Committee chairwoman Dame Diana Johnson suggested the public see Met officers as like TV characters Jack Regan from the Sweeney or Gene Hunt from Life On Mars, "rather than a modern professional police officer".