Two Metropolitan police officers walking in a park.
Image credit: Connor Danylenko / Pexels

Today Baroness Louise Casey of Blackstock published her review of the London Metropolitan Police and its culture. Her scathing report concludes the institutional culture is toxic, bullying, racist, misogynistic, and homophobic.

Martin Hewitt, the outgoing National Police Chief’s Council chair, has called for the London Met not to exist in its current form if it does not operate with public trust. A policing environment which condones racism, misogyny, homophobia through disproportionate policing practices like stops and searches and repeated mishandling of police misconduct is not legitimate in the eyes of the people it serves. UK government data show that trust and confidence in the London Met and other UK police forces amongst women, people of colour and other traditionally marginalised groups is in a bad state.

Police misconduct is a regular feature of the Met and other policing institutions across the UK and worldwide. Sir Steven House, Neil Basu and other police leaders all say this toxic culture is not just the work of a few ‘bad apples’ like David Carrick or Wayne Couzens. It is an institutional problem. Firing the few does not change the Met’s police ‘warrior culture’. When the officers who took pictures for fun of BAME murder victims Nicola Smallman and Bibaa Henry keep their jobs, there is a rotten barrel.

The Met’s toxic atmosphere is driven by a police ‘warrior culture’ inherent to policing worldwide. Police warrior culture is characterised by aggression, machoism, intolerance, bias, suspicion, and detachment from policed communities, creating an ‘us versus them’ mindset toward policed communities, particularly the poor, people of colour, women, and LGBTQ+ communities. Warrior street policing hardens officers on the job and alienates them from community members. It makes racism, misogyny and homophobia even harder to root out and challenge within police services.

However, the UK is uniquely positioned to initiate dramatic and necessary national changes to its police services. To do this, UK policing must change the way it hires, trains, evaluates, assigns, monitors, supervises, disciplines, and terminates its officers to remove the ‘warrior’ mentality.

The data is clear that revamping policing institutions can help shift away from police warrior culture and move toward guardianship policing model. When UK policing can embrace the guardian model, as some US police departments have set out to do, it will be able to better serve the public they are meant to protect, rather than inspiring fear and distrust.