Policing facing 'perfect storm' and requires urgent reform, warns Yvette Cooper
The Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP told BBC One’s Sunday Morning programme with Sophie Raworth that the recent failings within the Met - including officers based at Charing Cross police station in central London exchanging violently racist, misogynistic and homophobic messages - are part of broader national problems.
She said: “I think we see the scale of issues with the Charing Cross inquiry, and we need to see reforms but it’s really worth stressing this. This is not about just one individual solving this or one police force.
“You’ve seen similar issues around Leicestershire, Sussex, Police Scotland, other forces as well. There is a real perfect storm facing policing right now and it is a serious one.
“You have a situation where crime is going up, prosecutions are going down, confidence is falling.
“There’s a legacy of damaging cuts, and also these individual toxic cases around the culture.
“There needs to be a proper serious programme of reform for policing.”
Dame Cressida announced she was standing down as Met Commissioner on Thursday evening after London Mayor Sadiq Khan made clear he had no confidence in her plans to reform the service.
The resignation comes just months after Home Secretary Priti Patel agreed a two-year extension to Dame Cressida’s contract.
Home Office sources said the Cabinet minister was angered by Mr Khan’s failure to inform her that he had called Dame Cressida to a meeting on Thursday afternoon, which she considered “rude and unprofessional”.
Ms Cooper said Ms Patel has been “silent on policing for a year” when much-needed reforms have been needed.
She said British officers police by consent and reforms to areas including training, vetting, misconduct, challenging any internal culture issues, and helping to keep women and girls safe, “which currently too many feel that they’re not”, have been needed to help back that up.
Ms Cooper added: “Once that confidence was lost then the Met Commissioner was right to resign, and I support the mayor’s decision. But what I am concerned about in all of this debate is it’s all focusing on one individual, one individual new appointment, and also one police force.
“I think the challenges for policing are much broader than this and there needs to be Home Office-led reforms in this area as well.”
Ms Patel reportedly wants an outsider who can reform the force’s culture instead of senior officers “inheriting” the job, according to The Sun on Sunday.
She has told allies she is determined to end the “Buggins’ turn” system whereby appointments are made by rotation rather than merit.
Mr Khan has pledged to oppose the appointment of a new Met Commissioner unless they have a “robust plan” to deal with the “cultural problems” that have led to a series of scandals in the force.
Writing in The Observer, he said he is “deeply concerned” that public trust and confidence in the country’s biggest police force “has been shattered so badly”, which he concluded can only be rebuilt with new leadership at the top of the Met.
Mr Khan wrote that Dame Cressida’s successor will have to understand the scale and urgency of dealing with the Met’s cultural problems.
Former HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham said Dame Cressida had “care, compassion and candour” and “really generated great loyalty amongst the frontline troops” but was overtaken by a series of “catastrophic events” including the murder of Yorkshire-born Sarah Everard by serving police officer Wayne Couzens.
Minister questions timing of Khan's decision
Dame Cressida’s resignation announcement on Thursday came just hours after she had said she did not intend to leave her post.
But she said she had been left with “no choice” after Mr Khan made it clear to her he had no confidence in her leadership.
Mr Lewis said Mr Khan, who had been “very keen” to appoint her but now “seems to have had a volte face in just the last week”, had “possibly” been playing politics.
He told Times Radio: “I think he should’ve been consulting with the Home Secretary, bearing in mind this is a man who just a couple of months ago extended Cressida Dick’s contract.
“For me, yes, I think he should’ve been talking to and working with the Home Secretary, particularly so close to a time he extended a contract himself – it does seem to be a rather odd position for him to have taken.”
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