Government statement on Metropolitan Police “incredibly weak”, Labour says

Katie Neame

Labour’s Sarah Jones has described a government statement on the Metropolitan Police as “incredibly weak” after the force was placed into what has been called a form of “special measures”.

Addressing the Commons this afternoon, Kit Malthouse said it was clear that the Met was “falling short” of the public’s expectations of the service and that confidence in the service had been “severely undermined”.

The policing minister said the government expects Sadiq Khan to act swiftly to ensure he and the force deliver improvements, telling MPs it is “not the time for the mayor [of London] to distance himself from the Met”.

Jones said the murders of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry in 2020 “have come to epitomise the problems within the Met that we, the mayor of London and London residents have been so concerned about for some time”.

The shadow policing minister told MPs: “We know that tens of thousands of people work in the Met, and of course we know that so many have that sense of public duty that reflects the incredibly important job that they do.

“But they have been let down by poor leadership, lack of resources and an acceptance of poor behaviour. It is for them, as well as the victims and the wider public, that we seek to drive forward improvements.”

The Labour frontbencher declared that the “minister’s announcement about what needs to be done is incredibly weak” and called for a “national overhaul of police training and standards”.

She said: “We need a new vetting system. We need to overhaul misconduct cases, with time limits on cases. We need new rules on social media use. We need robust structures for internal reporting to be made and taken seriously.

“We need new expected standards on support for victims, investigation of crimes and internal culture and management. And this is for the Home Office to lead.”

Jones argued: “The public deserve a police service that they not only trust but they can be proud of. Victims need an efficient and effective force to get them justice. Our officers deserve to work in a climate without bullying, toxic cultures.

“We need to see urgent reforms, and the government can no longer leave our police facing a perfect storm of challenges and failing to lead that change.”

Malthouse argued in his statement that the mayor of London “must lean in and share responsibility for a failure of governance and the work needed to put it right”.

He accused Khan of being “asleep at the wheel” and “letting the city down”, adding: “The mayor must acknowledge that he has profound questions to answer. He can’t be passive and continue as he has. He must get a grip.”

Malthouse concluded: “We have not heard enough from the mayor about what he plans to do about it. Blaming everybody else will just not do.”

Jones said she was “deeply disappointed with the minister” because the draft of the statement that he had shared with the opposition ahead of the session included “none of the political attacks on the mayor of London”.

Deputy speaker Rosie Winterton noted that it was “unusual” and that she had also received a “slightly different statement”, adding: “It is expected that the opposition should have the statement that is actually given.”

Labour MP Barry Gardiner described the statement as “unworthy” of the House of Commons and “even unworthy of this minister”. He argued that there was a “danger that we take away the focus of our debate from the failings of the Metropolitan police and put it on to personal and political responsibility”.

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