In 1987 a private investigator called Daniel Morgan was murdered in Sydenham; despite several investigations, no one has been convicted for his murder . It was long suspected that police corruption may have played a part in either the murder or the failure to bring the murderer to justice. As a result of the suspicions, the Home Secretary set up the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel in 2013. The report was published in 2021 containing criticisms of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and concluded that some aspects of the police approach amounted to “institutional corruption”.
Following this report, the Home Secretary commissioned a thematic inspection of the Metropolitan Police Service to be carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services. Carried out under section 54(2B) of the Police Act 1996, the report’s function was to “consider opportunities for organisational learning” from the investigations into the murder and subsequent reviews and to assess how the police force responded. The function was not to reinvestigate the murder itself. The Inspectorate was also asked to look at the police force’s response to the Independent Panel’s requests for disclosure and access to material during their enquiry and to assess the MPS’s understanding of, and response to, police corruption.
The terms of reference for the Inspectorate’s report were:
- How effective was the MPS’s organisational learning response to the Daniel Morgan independent investigations and reviews?
- How appropriately did the MPS respond to the Independent Panel’s requests for disclosure and access to material?
- How well does the MPS prevent, manage, understand, and investigate potential corruption?
The report contains descriptions of five causes for concern that were found, two areas for improvement, and includes twenty recommendations for change.
Causes of concern
- The arrangements for managing exhibits and other property.
- The lack of any effort on the part of the MPS to establish relationships between the directorate of professional standards and organisations supporting vulnerable people.
- The lack of proactive work to gather counter-corruption intelligence.
- The lack of monitoring and oversight of declarable associations, business interests, gift and hospitality.
- The current professional standards operating model within the MPS.
Areas for improvement
- A more consistent approach to be taken toward counter-corruption training.
- The annual professional development review checklist should be completed for all officers and staff.
Recommendations (by 31 March 2023)
- The MPS to establish clear processes and responsibilities for responding to the findings on the report, with structures in place to exert sufficient control over the response.
- Adequate provision needs to be made for the effective storage of property and exhibits with an effective process for handover, better record-keeping and supervisory oversight.
- The MPS are to establish and begin operation of a process to determine the vetting status of personnel in designated posts, ensure designated postholders are vetted to the enhanced level and provide assurance that such postholders continue to have the requisite vetting level.
- Ensure all police officers and staff are aware they are required to report any changes in personal circumstances. A process to be established whereby all parts of the organisation that need to know about reported changes are always made aware of them.
- The College of Policing should amend the Counter-Corruption (Prevention) Authorised Professional Practice to make it clear that cash gifts should never be accepted.
- The MPS should review and update its gifts, hospitality policy, and associated policies. Registers to be accessible, used and maintained with staff aware of the policy and their individual responsibilities.
- Business interests monitoring procedures should be strengthened. Records should be easily accessible with regular reviews and personnel aware of it and their responsibilities. MPS need to monitor personnel compliance which should include dip sampling.
- A risk assessment process in respect of declarable associations is to be carried out by suitably trained assessors and should include an element of objectivity.
- The policy in 8 should be revised, placing a firm obligation on all personnel to disclose any relationships with journalists or extremist groups. Records are to be accessible with personnel aware of the policy and their responsibilities. Effective oversight should be maintained, including dip sampling for assurance purposes.
- All supervisors must be properly briefed on the business interests and declarable associations of all those they are expected to supervise.
- The MPS are to take steps to ensure the integrity assurance unit is properly resourced for the effective monitoring and review of relevant staff. Any counter-corruption related conditions placed on personnel are effective in mitigating the risks those personnel present.
- People intelligence meetings must be convened and held on a regular and continuing basis. An alternative process to facilitate the presentation and exchange of corruption-related intelligence should be found to identify officers and staff who may present a corruption risk.
- The MPS must ensure it has full IT monitoring capability to protect the information it holds, and to identify potentially corrupt personnel.
- An improved system of digital device management to be established with accurate recording of each device and the member of staff allocated, and the use to which each device is put.
- An updated policy to be produced for the use of mobile phones making clear they are for official use only with what the force considers acceptable and unacceptable use.
- The directorate of professional standards should establish relationships with external bodies which support vulnerable people. By doing so, they will encourage disclosure by these bodies of corruption, help them to understand the warning signs and ensure they are aware of how such information should be disclosed.
- The MPS should ensure all its corruption-related intelligence is categorised in accordance with the NPCC counter-corruption categories.
- An effective and auditable process should be developed to ensure all corruption-related intelligence allocated to other units is handled effectively.
- MPS are to revise its counter-corruption strategic threat assessment and control strategy. This should include analysis and an evidence base to support the reasons why some forms of corruption are identified as current threats, a clear intelligence requirement, a plan naming individuals who are allocated responsibility for the actions in the control strategy, and a communication process to increase understanding of the threats faced.
- In consultation with the College of Policing, the NPCC should amend its definition of police corruption and amend its national corruption categories. This will ensure they become more useful to those recording, categorising and analysing corrupt behaviour, and the concept of institutional corruption is included in the definition and the categories.
It can be seen from the recommendations alone that the MPS stance on corruption has been inadequate, and there is a great deal of work to be done to bring it up to standard. The foreword to the report states that the findings paint a “depressing picture” with the force sometimes behaving in ways that made it appear “arrogant, secretive and lethargic”. The recommendations come with an end date of 31 March 2023, and no doubt there will be a further report at that stage to assess the progress made.
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Image credit: “Corruption Starts Here.” by IntangibleArts is marked with CC BY 2.0.