The Metropolitan Police’s ability to tackle corruption is “fundamentally flawed”, the police inspectorate found in a damning report into the murder of Daniel Morgan.
The report from Her Majesty’s Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services Inspectorate was ordered after an independent panel slammed the Met for its failures over Morgan’s murder, where bribery hampered the hunt to killers of the private eye.
Morgan was found dead in 1987 in a south London pub car park with an ax to his head. No one has been found guilty of the murder.
The force has been accused of “indifference”, despite decades of promises. Thirty-five years after the murder, the Met had still not learned all the lessons, the inspection found.
Inspectors found the Met:
Failed to properly supervise more than 100 recruits with criminal convictions or criminal connections, to reduce the risk they may pose. These convictions include concealment, drug possession, assault and theft.
The Met does not know whether people in highly sensitive positions, such as child protection, major crime investigations and informant management, are vetted at the right level.
More than 2,000 warrant cards issued to former officers who are no longer authorized to hold them are missing.
Monitoring of IT systems, which helps identify potentially corrupt personnel, remains weaker than it should be.
Hundreds of items such as drugs, money and exhibits are missing, with provisions and policies to keep them safe labeled as “disasters”. In one case, a store’s security code was written on the door of a police station.
Matt Parr, HM Constabulary Inspector, said: ‘The corruption is almost certainly higher than the Met understands.
Parr added: “It is unacceptable that 35 years after the murder of Daniel Morgan, the Metropolitan Police have not done enough to ensure that the failings of this investigation are not repeated. In fact, we found no evidence that anyone, anywhere embraced the idea that this should never happen again.
“We found significant weaknesses in the Met’s approach to tackling police corruption. The Met’s apparent tolerance of these shortcomings suggests a certain indifference to the risk of corruption.
“We made several recommendations for change. If public confidence in the Metropolitan Police is to be improved, it should be among the Commissioner’s highest priorities.
The findings of the inspection were so serious that several weeks ago the headline findings were passed on to the Home Secretary, the Met Commissioner and the Mayor of London.
The government-appointed panel that looked into Morgan’s murder reported last year and found the Met to be institutionally corrupt. This is partly explained by the fact that the force took time to hand over the requested documents.
The HMICFRS concluded that the Met was not institutionally corrupt and that any obstruction of the investigation was not deliberate. But it was critical.
The inspection said: “We have 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 unfavorable issues… bore the marks of limited resources allocated to maintaining professional standards, professional incompetence, lack of understanding of important concepts, mismanagement or genuine error, rather than dishonesty.
“We found no evidence of a deliberate or coordinated campaign to intentionally frustrate the work of the panel. It follows that we will not describe the MPS as institutionally corrupt based on the evidence we have seen.
The inspection said the Met had received enough warnings: ‘There are multiple areas of serious concern, particularly in relation to the way the MPS responds to allegations of corruption, which must be addressed to ensure the confidence of the public in the MPS.
“It is essential that the MPS is more open to criticism and ready to change if necessary, including by implementing our recommendations. Another failure to do so (without good reason) may well justify the label of institutional corruption in due course.
Reports on the potential failures that allowed Wayne Couzens to join the Met are expected later this year. While a serving Met officer, he used police powers to kidnap and murder Sarah Everard in March 2021.