Sadiq Khan has vowed to withhold support for any new commissioner appointee unless they can show they understand the scale of the issues and have a convincing improvement plan.
In a landmark speech at City Hall this morning (Friday, June 17), Mr Khan outlined his demands for the Met to tackle “deep cultural problems” revealed by a series of scandals.
These have included the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving officer Wayne Couzens, the actions of the two officers who photographed the bodies of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, and the strip search of the black 15-year-old Child Q at her secondary school in Hackney.
Addressing a crowd made up of invitees including victims of crime, charities, police officers, community representatives and media, the mayor said: “None of this is going to be easy.
“Change on this scale at the speed we need is difficult.
“But we owe it to Stephen Lawrence, to Sarah Everard, to Child Q, to all the victims of the recent scandals, to all their friends and families, and to all Londoners –– to continue the struggle with fierce determination and an unflinching sense of purpose.
“Because change is long overdue. And delivering it will be crucial to building a better, fairer and safer London for everyone, and for all of our communities.
“Londoners deserve the best policing in the world – and I believe we have the potential to get there.”
He added: “In 21st century Britain. In an open, diverse city like ours.
“It’s essential that all of London’s communities feel like the police are there not to threaten or criminalise them, but to protect and serve them.
“I’ve heard time and time again - directly from the parents of girls and black teenagers, and young people across our city - that what they want more than anything else is for their children to be safe, to feel safe, and to feel like the police are there to protect them - and is on their side.
“They should expect nothing less. It’s what I want when my daughters go out in London. It’s what every parent and Londoner wants.
“And we mustn’t relent until this is the case.”
Khan also praised the “tens of thousands of incredibly brave and decent police officers” and stressed that: “We owe the men and women who risk their lives to protect our city a huge debt of gratitude.”
He said his demands were not “anti-police” and that “many police officers feel just as disgusted and let down by what’s been exposed recently”.
Mr Khan said: “I know what’s been exposed in recent months has profoundly affected countless Londoners, who have every right to be outraged and to be demanding answers.
“These are feelings I share. The scandals have left me sick to my stomach – disgusted and extremely angry.
“Partly because they remind me of the bad old days of the Met. The Met I know from my childhood.
“Growing up in the 1970s and 80s on a council estate in south London, it was commonplace to hear stories from friends and family members of racist, sexist and abusive behaviour by police officers.
“There was a palpable sense in my community that the presence of the police on our local streets did not offer reassurance or a sense of protection, but rather fear… the fear of being unfairly criminalised or mistreated.”
The mayor has demanded a host of new commitments and reforms, including:
- More robust vetting of new and serving police officers;
- Better recruitment processes to ensure the Met only gets the right people in the job;
- Far-reaching changes to the misconduct process, including making it much faster;
- Weeding out those who should never have been allowed to become police officers;
- Stronger IT monitoring to help identify corrupt officers and inappropriate behaviour;
- Ensuring officers and staff have the confidence to come forward as whistleblowers;
- Better training and supervision - particularly sergeants and inspectors;
- Clear steps on how the Met will tackle racism and be an anti-racist institution;
- Greater community oversight and engagement with Londoners;
- Systemic and organisational reforms to the bread-and-butter issues of policing.
“We now need to see nothing less than a new contract forged between the police and the public,” Khan said.
He called for root and branch reforms, an overhaul of disciplinary processes, and systemic culture change.
And he stressed: “Londoners need to hear the leadership of the Met publicly acknowledge the scale and depth of the problems - something which will be a crucial first step for the next Commissioner to start rebuilding trust and credibility with our communities.
“I make no apology for demanding this. It’s not being political. It’s democracy in action.
“It’s the checks and balances of power, without which we’d still be living with the kind of policing we saw before the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.
“I want to make [it] crystal clear today I won’t support the appointment of a new Commissioner unless they can demonstrate they understand the true extent of the cultural and organisational problems within the Met.
“That they appreciate the moral and operational imperatives to confront them head on.
“And that they have a convincing plan to reduce crime further, improve detection rates and bring more criminals to justice.”
The new commissioner, MrKhan said, must understand and accept the Met needs help to improve; is ready to bring in outside expertise; be “humble” and “a reformer”.
He added: “I’ll accept nothing less. This is my promise to Londoners.
“I’ve dedicated a large part of my working life to trying to make policing better.
“And – as mayor - I’ll not stop until we’ve delivered the police reforms and step change in policing culture that our city deserves.”