Braverman urged to shake up oversight of police after rape case

Home secretary Suella Braverman is under mounting pressure to shake up the way the police are policed after a prolific rapist evaded sanction for years while serving in an elite firearms unit.

David Carrick, an officer in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, who has admitted carrying out dozens of sexual offences including 24 rapes, was only formally sacked from London’s Metropolitan Police at a disciplinary procedure on Tuesday.

Carrick, who first joined the Met in 2001, was discharged after a court hearing on Monday unleashed a string of chilling revelations about his case. He is due to be sentenced next month.

MPs from all sides on Tuesday called on Braverman to ensure that senior officers who failed to act on repeated reports of Carrick’s abusive and violent behaviour over two decades, are held to account. They also sought reassurance that other officers under scrutiny for sex offences are swiftly removed.

“It is not just about change in the future but about dealing with those individuals currently in management and senior positions in the Met who seemed to think it was all right for Carrick to be in a firearms unit,” said Harriet Harman, former Labour minister and longest serving female MP in the House of Commons.

Sir Mark Rowley took over as Met commissioner in September promising a shake-up of the force, to identify corrupt officers and address a toxic culture of racism, homophobia and misogyny.

A new unit has since been created for the purpose and the Met has said that it is reviewing 1,633 cases of alleged sexual or domestic violence involving 1,071 officers and staff to ensure each one was correctly dealt with.

Braverman acknowledged in parliament that this will mean “more shocking cases come to light in the short term”.

With public confidence in the police severely shaken, Braverman announced a review into how officers are sacked saying that “bureaucracy and process appear to have got in the way”.

“I want to ensure there is a fair and effective system to remove those officers who are not fit to serve,” she said.

She has also asked Dame Elish Angiolini KC to include an inquiry into Carrick’s case into her continuing probe into the 2020 rape, murder and abduction of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens, who served in the same elite police protection unit as Carrick.

But Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, accused the government of failing for years to uphold standards in policing. She said that even after the Couzens and Carrick cases came to light, there were still no standardised legal requirements on vetting and misconduct across forces.

Priti Patel, Braverman’s predecessor, like Cooper called on the government to impose new rules on the police by legislating. “If we don’t do this we will back here back again and again.”

Senior women involved with the police in different capacities said there needed to be more clarity on what constitutes misconduct. Meanwhile, Zoë Billingham, who served at the police inspectorate for more than a decade until 2021, said there was no consistency across different forces.

She said a minority of people were attracted to policing because “it gives them access to vulnerable people who they can prey on and groom”, and that every force in the country faced this problem.

There was a danger now, she added, as the government boosts police numbers after years of cuts, that the wrong sort of people are entering the force again: “The bar needs to be much higher.”

The Met could not be expected to reform itself alone said Betsy Stanko, a professor of criminology, who is conducting a review, Operation Soteria Bluestone, for the Home Office on the way rape cases are handled.

The Met needed to bring independent people from outside the institution to collaborate in shaking up the culture, she told the FT. “We need a lightning bolt through the entire organisation.”

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