What should the Met do now? – politicalbetting.com

Screenshot 2022 01 18 22.06.08 1What should the Met do now? – politicalbetting.com 2

When an organisation in trouble loses its leadership, there is a tendency for the new management to embark on a reorganisation. This is usually a mistake. It’s not that reorganisation isn’t needed. It’s rather that it should not be the priority. It destabilises and distracts from the work which is needed.

So it is with the Met. There are big questions to be asked about its responsibilities, about whether counter-terrorism should be hived off, about how fraud is tackled and so on. But these need reflection and consultation and, ideally, cross-party consensus. And, crucially, they are not at the heart of its current problems. Those problems relate to its leadership, its culture – not just its attitudes but its inconsistent level of competence and professionalism – and its apparent inability or unwillingness to deal with the far too many rotten or incompetent officers within it.

Its two immediate priorities should be these – and in this order:-

Disciplining and sacking all misbehaving and incompetent officers. The Met will need a team of hard-nosed, effective investigators to investigate and take action against all officers falling short. This needs to be short, sharp and and swift, with its results made public so that the public can see action being taken. If more powers are needed to ensure that disciplinary measures are not obstructed or slowed down unnecessarily, these should be granted. (If it needs a template it can look to what Sir Robert Mark did in the 1970’s.) This is essential to start the process of rebuilding trust with the public and to show the good officers within the Met that they will no longer be tainted by the misconduct of others, that they are the Met’s future, that they are doing the right thing by behaving professionally, decently and lawfully.
Culture change. This is hard, extremely hard. It takes time. It needs three things above all:
(1) senior leadership who truly understand the need for change – usually learnt after a near death experience; 
(2) external stakeholders who put and keep sustained pressure on it to make that change; and
(3) persistent hard work at all levels over years to effect it, with the understanding that the job is never finished. This comes from the top but needs the permafrost layer of management just below to really work at it if it is to percolate into the ranks and embed itself.

What does a good culture look like? What should the process of change focus on? A huge topic but these elements are essential:
– Leaders at all levels who take responsibility, who do not seek to excuse, who know how to say sorry and mean it, who understand how the force is viewed by the public and why and can communicate effectively to the ranks why change is needed. They need to get officers to realise for themselves why behaviour needs to change, to enthuse them about why this matters, about why it will help them be better officers. This is about something more fundamental than simply following yet another procedure.
– Proper due diligence and thorough vetting both before recruitment and throughout employment. Remedying poor due diligence now on officers currently employed will be necessary.
– No tolerance of minor misdemeanours.
– A culture of “Speak Up” and an understanding that turning a blind eye, having misplaced loyalty to wrongdoers is unprofessional, wrong and dangerous – and will be punished.
– An effective training system and continuing professional education. That training must not be simply about not being rude to or about gays and women and minorities. It must be about professional competence – it is the lack of this which allows the former.
– An effective disciplinary system.
– A way of really learning from mistakes. Lessons learned has too often become a meaningless cliche. But if done well it is vital. What it means is accepting that mistakes will happen, catching them early and treating them as learning opportunities not as something to be PR’d away.

Action this day. They will need a team of senior leaders below the top whose sole focus, at least initially, is on this. They should start even before the new Commissioner is in place. Listing the weaknesses in procedures and procedures and the suggested recommendations from the numerous reports over the last few years will provide a detailed and worthwhile To Do List and a plan for action. They can start on this right now.

Asking the impossible? No. It has been done – in finance. (Well, in some parts anyway.) It is more prolonged and painful the longer it is left. It can feel like a distraction from an organisation’s main purpose. It will lead to the Met facing more bad headlines as the carpet is rolled up and the nasties uncovered. But without it, it can’t even begin to do its job. The Met will have little chance to rebuild the trust it needs to fight crime if it does not make a public start at putting its own house in order.

Cressida Dick’s main failing was that she never really understood this. Sadiq Khan’s was that he left it far too late to take action. Even now he gives the impression that it’s only the failings identified in the recent IOPC report on Charing Cross Police Station – bad language and attitudes – which need addressing. They aren’t. He may have been unbothered by the Morgan Report or the Stephen Port scandal or the Operation Midland failings but they are far worse. His job now is not to take one well publicised step then disappear. His – and that of the Home Secretary – is to keep the pressure on the new leadership over the years to come, if a defensive, often obstructive and mulish organisation is not to revert to its comfort zone. Meanwhile, politicians, the public and police can start the process of deciding how best the Met’s various responsibilities should be carried out. Whatever those decisions, a Met which has started taking the steps identified above should be in a better position than it is now.


Author: wpadmin

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