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OPINION - Time is running out after Scotland Yard’s catalogue of shame

Sir Mark Rowley has spoken of his frustration at the Government’s delay in handing him greater powers to root out rogue officers (PA)
Sir Mark Rowley has spoken of his frustration at the Government’s delay in handing him greater powers to root out rogue officers (PA)

Shocking was just one of the words used by the judge to describe the Met’s failure to identify and stop rapist officer Adam Provan.

The judge’s desire to hit out was understandable given the evidence before him in a case in which he found the Met more interested in “looking out for one of its own” than taking seriously the complaints about Provan’s conduct.

But rather than shocking, for many Londoners it will be, regrettably, unsurprising to find the Met yet again failing women and allowing a predatory male officer to abuse his position with horrific consequences.

The most notorious previous examples before Provan was jailed yesterday for eight rapes were of course Wayne Couzens, who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard, and his serial rapist colleague David Carrick. On their own, the failures exposed by these crimes would be bad enough but the procession of other court cases involving Met officers over recent months, as well as misconduct hearings over further wrongdoing, have proved that the rot within the force is even deeper. It all makes the pressure on Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley unrelenting. He recently spoke of his frustration at the Government’s delay in handing him greater powers to root out rogue officers.

It was inevitable that getting rid of criminals in uniform would bring dark truths to public attention. Now with every month that passes the need for Sir Mark to be able to show meaningful change becomes ever more critical.

One of the most obvious reasons is that London’s women and girls must be confident of police support if they want to report crimes so that offenders can be brought to justice. Other Londoners need confidence in the police too, and even the Met’s recruitment efforts — which are important to bring in new attitudes and help improve crime fighting — will continue to struggle while the force’s reputation is under a cloud.

It all means that time is running out. In her damning report this year, Baroness Casey raised the possibility of breaking up the force if the widespread changes that she called for are not implemented.

Others have promoted the idea of bringing in a total outsider from beyond the police to run the Met. It’s not certain that these ideas would work. But every new case like Provan’s will heighten calls for more radical action.

Martin Bentham is Home Affairs Editor