The Metropolitan Police’s ability to tackle corruption is “fundamentally flawed”, according to a damning report into the murder of Daniel Morgan.
A police inspectorate report was ordered after an independent panel criticised Scotland Yard for failings over the murder of private inspector Morgan, where corruption allegedly hindered the hunt for his killers.
Morgan was found dead in 1987 in a pub car park in south London with an axe in his head. No one has ever been convicted of the murder.
Despite decades of promises, the force was accused of “indifference” in its investigations. And, 33 years on from the murder, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has found that the Met had still failed to learn all the lessons from Morgan’s death.
‘Not done enough’
Matt Parr, HM inspector of constabulary, said: “Corruption is almost certainly higher than the Met understands.
“It is unacceptable that 35 years after Daniel Morgan’s murder, the Metropolitan police has not done enough to ensure its failings from that investigation cannot be repeated. In fact, we found no evidence that someone, somewhere, had adopted the view that this must never happen again.
“We found substantial weaknesses in the Met’s approach to tackling police corruption. The Met’s apparent tolerance of these shortcomings suggests a degree of indifference to the risk of corruption.
“We have made several recommendations for change. If public confidence in the Metropolitan police is to be improved, they should be among the commissioner’s highest priorities.”
Among a host of damning revelations, inspectors found that Scotland Yard failed to supervise more than 100 recruits with criminal convictions or connections – including those convicted for drug offences, assault and theft.
The Met is said to be unaware if officers in highly sensitive posts – such as child protection – are properly vetted, while hundreds of items – like drugs, cash and exhibits – are missing. In one case, the security code for a store was written on its door at a police station.
The inspectorate’s findings are so damning that the headline findings were briefed to the home secretary, Met commissioner and London mayor weeks ago.
‘Serious areas of concern’
HMICFRS did not conclude that the Met is institutionally corrupt, but was highly critical nonetheless. The inspectorate said: “We concluded that, at least until recently, the MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] has often shown a reluctance to examine, admit and learn from past mistakes and failures.”
“We concluded that the adverse matters… bore the hallmarks of limited resources allocated to the maintenance of professional standards, professional incompetence, a lack of understanding of important concepts, poor management or genuine error, rather than dishonesty.
“We found no evidence of any deliberate or coordinated campaign to intentionally frustrate the panel’s work. It follows that we would not describe the MPS as institutionally corrupt based upon the evidence we have seen.”
It added that Scotland Yard had had enough warnings: “There are multiple serious areas of concern, including in relation to the ways in which the MPS responds to allegations of corruption, which must be addressed to secure public confidence in the MPS.
“It is essential that the MPS should be more open to criticism and prepared to change where necessary, including by implementing our recommendations. A further failure to do so (without good reason) may well justify the label of institutional corruption in due course.”
A further report into failings that allowed Wayne Couzens – Sarah Everard’s murderer – to join the Met is expected later this year.