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  • Writer's pictureBen Westwood

Baroness Casey report on the Met Police - A care leavers view - Part 3


There's a lot to unpack in this home affairs committee meeting for sure. Despite being far from an expert on policing, perhaps the voice of a care leaver that went on to experience homelessness, stigma, frequent stop and searches and even police set-ups in London might just might be able to add a little extra touch of insight for those whose voice is largely only heard through the conscious souls that choose to speak for us.

(Continued below video)

After the meeting adjourns for a break at 18m 45s the video starts its coverage again, with East Worthing and Shoreham Conservative MP Tim Loughton goes on to state that he's concerned that the solution to sorting out the issues within the police is to bring in more police to look at it and that perhaps they should be looking at bringing in people that have nothing to do with the police coming in to look and see if it's really fit for purpose. An extremely valid point in my own opinion - rancid cordial will likely still taste sour no matter how much you keep trying to dilute it.

He goes on to explain how the Met can't really have a fresh start with only their own people and that despite bringing in more female officers as well as more black officers being a good thing in a bid to combat misogyny and homophobia - that approach alone doesn't necessarily get to the root of the problem and may leave many of those people vulnerable to become targets for those unfair treatments, abuses and malice.

I think he's right, and the book I'm writing currently goes right into the heart of this issue, not necessarily within the police force but in other avenues of society too.

Still though, with the Met being the UK's biggest police force and in a public service role where the public expect trust, fair treatment and the real desire and integrity to stop harm and abuse it's one of the most important infrastructures in the UK to start with.

If we can't change our biggest police force to be the very thing it says on the tin and up it's standards into the twenty-first century then really what is this island? A lie? a charade? A spellbound playground that will no doubt be in complete shock when it finally admits the responsibilities that it has to take? Being a police officer shouldn't be about just picking one of the options that the careers advisor gave you at school, bumbling along to keep in respectable employment just to pay the bills and that's the lot of it.

Some people are born with the natural power of love, others go on their own journeys to learn it, still though, it's those who's passion for serving the community is led by the heart that the Met needs to ensure are in those key positions.

Not that policing is easy most of us gather, but perhaps instead of just recruiting the people that are part of it all just to be in a comfortable position in the game of life perhaps part of the vetting system should really get to the nitty gritty of why those people want to people officers in the first place.

It would actually make me proud of my country if I knew that we had guardians and stewards of our communities that were doing it because they truly cared and with a roaring warm fire to protect. I'm not saying that those sorts of people don't exist in the police force, and perhaps sometimes such characters are a rarity, but it doesn't mean that there can't be more focus on actually reaching to those people.

It really is more than just numbers - it's about how much a person really cares for the world around them. Not their house, not just their immediate family or social bubble but the true connection and stepping back to look at whole communities and societies as one organism - not picking and choosing who you think deserves your respect enough to help them achieve peace, or justice.

Anyway, back to the video.

Tim Loughton goes to on the express that in most organisations where racism, misogyny and homophobia is spotted there are systems implemented which means the leadership will clamp down on it, but states the Met aren't capable of such a system in which Baroness Casey agrees. It really gets my mind thinking about what sort of people are there latching on to significant roles in the Met, and what framework have they created to try and protect themselves. It's at this point I'm getting well-established institutional corruption vibes that seems a tough task at hand.

Soon after, Baroness Casey goes on to explain how various notices and flyers had been made to send the message to the police to up their standards essentially.

As well as other dysfunctionalities mentioned with the Met's approach she details a campaign put out by the Met further down the line called 'Not in My Met' stating that it's message was 'don't be racist, don't be homophobic, and if you are then please leave.'

She rightfully emphasises the poor taste in message with the quote 'please leave' which sounds about as tactful and robust as a wet paper aeroplane.

Tim Loughton then discusses the topic of bringing people in from outside of the police force into the top positions such as chief commissioner and deputy commissioner such as people someone from the army being the prime example.

Despite gelling with much of what I've heard Tim Loughton say during the committee meeting, I'm not one hundred percent sure how I feel about that one for various reasons.

The first and most obvious being that a significant degree of experience of the day to day workings within the police force is perhaps essentially into helping fix this whole mess up. Like, if you wanted your car fixed would you take it to a cycle repair shop? No. However, I think bringing in a team of outsider perspectives to the arrangement would equally be beneficial as a whole. It is clear that an 'us and them' mentality can breed within any sort of organisation under any scrutiny.

Despite just being a commentating member of the public I feel that by creating a coalition between commissioners that are dedicated to creating change other people that are connected with the community in other ways then the police officers themselves perhaps will feel more confident in challenging the current issues people have found difficult to previously.

There has to be the clear message from within the police itself that it wants to change, and without that we'll still face the same toxic mess with groups of officers keeping quiet, losing evidence or brushing all of the major red flags under the carpet if they perceive those that are trying to change things as 'outside intruders that give them all stick and don't really understand policing.' I don't really agree with Tim Loughton's approach that it should be people from the army or business leaders though. That's with no disrespect intended whatsoever to the many great service men and women of this world, nor to business leaders, but I just don't see the progressive change enough that's needed by using those sorts of professions as a main focus.

The reason being, that for it's positive aspects on discipline and order as well as organisation - these aren't the real core issues here.

Sure, we need people with those attributes in significant positions without a shadow of a doubt, but those types can't do it alone and I think would be far best suited in that position as part of a complimentary team that include all types of people with SIGNIFICANT life, social and community experience from across the board.

Such people would be suited alongside social workers, abuse survivors, survivors of the many forms of exploitation and those that have significant experience of the very things that the Met claims it needs to change such as racism, misogyny and homophobia. But as mentioned in my previous parts to this post, it certainly shouldn't just be limited to that because there are many more people out there that deserve the same voice and recognition.

He also mentions business leaders in such roles, and although they could provide further insight into other elements of crime and economic security, again I feel it's too linear of a profession to be the main driver for a behavioural change that really has very little to do with economics. Again, no disrespect or undervaluing of anybody intended here, but let's be honest about this - money isn't the issue here. Not that I want to focus too much on Tim's Loughton statement there, but he goes on to mention about how there needs to be somebody that comes from outside of such a system with major failings in order to truly tackle some of those major failings such as child abuse and misogyny.

Again, despite the potential for positive influence on discipline and order how can somebody from such worlds make those sorts of changes whilst in many ways being a fish out of water when it comes to abuse, grooming, hate crimes, stigma and institutional racism. I would argue we need to look deeper into our community for the real people that can help us make the change that we keep talking about. One of the biggest police failings is the constant lack of understanding to the person making a complaint from the officers there to report or investigate it.

The true scope of abuse cover ups will never really be counted up in the UK currently because of the difference between how people assume policing works to how it actually does.

Some people might presume that if you make a complaint to the police that it's all recorded down, a paper trail to some degree, but no...complainants, whistleblowers and victims of crimes can be all too easily tossed aside by a police officer who may hold the mentality that if they don't feel a person isn't worthy of help from them that they'll simply shut it down.

It happens all of the time, and by that point many people lose trust in the police and with such a lack of wanting to challenge such abuses if left unchallenged it will lead to violence on both ends of the spectrum. From those who revel in sadism to those that are left feeling like they've got no other choice but to use violence to defend themselves or prevent it. That's not to say that someone from the army can't be well-integrated within their community and have the ability to understand all different sorts of people, but I think a mixed-team approach is needed for both the police and public to develop a more deep common sense of understanding as well as routing out it's most toxic systemic elements.

Currently walking around society are huge numbers of people that gave the police service a try but left feeling deflated with it not being what they'd expected, many of them lovely people too, perhaps some of them could do with having their thoughts, feelings and experiences heard too. Just a thought. I'll be back to cover more of the committee meeting in part four. Coming soon. Peace.

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