When Sir Mark Rowley was appointed Commissioner of the Met last year, he vowed to get rid of the criminals and the incompetent officers within the ranks who have blackened the name of the most famous police force in the world.
He asked the Government to strengthen his powers so that he could take swift and effective action. He is still waiting for the Government to do what is required.
Alistair Lexden raised this serious issue—and not for the first time—through an oral question in the Lords on 27 November.
He said: “I called on the Government a year ago to give Sir Mark Rowley the stronger disciplinary powers for which he was asking in order to root out crime and other serious abuses in the Met, which have shocked our country. Instead of taking action, the Government instituted a review. When will Sir Mark finally get the powers he needs? “
The Government could give no clear answer. Lord Sharpe of Epsom, the Lords Home Office Minister, stated; “the review was concluded and the results were published in September.” Legislation to provide the new powers would come in three instalments next year. Two of them could be passed quite quickly through new regulations under existing law—so-called secondary legislation.
Lord Sharpe was asked: “why on earth is it taking so long?” “A very good question”, he replied, but “I am afraid I do not understand the inner workings of the secondary legislation process.” Pressed on this point, he said, “I would like to see it [i.e the time] shortened. I do not know the answer.”
Exactly same lack of urgency can be found elsewhere—in the Independent Office of Police Conduct, which investigates and produces reports on wrong-doing by officers.
Alistair Lexden highlighted one notorious example. “Must not a thorough clean-up of the Met include calling to account the police officers who failed so grievously during Operation Midland, that infamous investigation that unforgivably hounded two great public servants, Lord Bramall and Lord Brittan?
“Is it not astonishing”, he continued, “that, after several years, the Independent Office for Police Conduct has only now got round to just one serious investigation arising from Operation Midland? That is into the conduct of Mr Steve Rodhouse, the man in charge of the disgraceful operation. On past form this could drag on for years while Mr Rodhouse enjoys a full salary. Do not those who have suffered deserve better than this?”
Apparently not, as far as the Home Office is concerned. It does not seem to care that injustice goes unrectified in this case and in that of Sir Edward Heath.