THE NATIONAL Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called for an official investigation into the reporting of police misconduct cases.
The Times newspaper has alleged that ‘misconduct hearings are often surrounded in secrecy and journalists are blocked from getting information’.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: ‘The findings by The Times which show the level of secrecy surrounding police misconduct hearings is deeply alarming, especially in the light of the Sarah Everard case.
‘The fact that the newspaper has had to use FOI requests to gain clarity on this issue tells its own story.
‘The results of their investigations show that one in four hearings were held in private, that journalists were routinely blocked when they argued for open proceedings, and that almost half of 40 misconduct outcome notices relating to officers and staff in England and Wales in the past month were anonymised.
‘The government must launch an immediate investigation into this situation and ensure that these hearings are made public and there is the greatest possible transparency.
‘Public confidence – particularly among women – in the police is woefully low, and this investigation reveals an institution that is resistant to scrutiny and oversight.
‘The police must be held accountable and stop protecting their own in this way.’
Meanwhile more than 100 Police Scotland officers have been investigated in the last four years over sexual misconduct claims, new figures have revealed.
A total of 106 officers faced misconduct cases in relation to 181 allegations between 2017 and 2021.
Formal or ‘management’ action was taken by Police Scotland on 63 of the 181 claims, while 17 saw no further action.
A further 21 of the allegations saw officers retire or resign during the misconduct probes.
- The Labour mayor of London Sadiq Khan has decided Cressida Dick should not face a formal investigation into an official finding that she obstructed an inquiry into police corruption.
In June, Dick, the Metropolitan police commissioner, was heavily criticised by the government-appointed panel investigating the 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan, a private detective whose killers were according to the report allegedly ‘shielded by police corruption’.
The panel made a series of bombshell findings, including that the Met was institutionally corrupt.
For the last four months the London mayor’s office for policing and crime (Mopac), which has oversight of the Met, has been considering whether to refer Dick for a formal investigation, which would be carried out by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
On Thursday Mopac decided not to refer the commissioner for the investigation. The decision came weeks after Dick’s contract as commissioner was controversially extended by two years by the home secretary, in consultation with Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor.
The IOPC is now considering ordering that the case still be sent to it and has started gathering evidence as it considers whether to launch an investigation.
The report into the unsolved murder in 1987 of Morgan, who was found dead in a south London pub car park, accused the Met of placing the protection of its reputation above finding the truth.
It personally criticised Dick for obstructing access to documents the panel thought vital and blamed the force for it taking eight years to reach its conclusions.
The 1,200 page report produced evidence that Scotland Yard had repeatedly covered up widespread corruption in its ranks with Baroness Nuala O’Loan, the chairman of the independent panel, concluding that corruption was not purely historical but was still present within the force and that it is ‘institutionally’ corrupt.
Morgan was killed in a pub car park with an axe in his head but despite five police inquiries and an inquest no one has been brought to trial.
Eight years ago, following a sustained campaign by Morgan’s family, the then Tory home secretary Theresa May commissioned this inquiry. In those eight long years the inquiry was met with a sustained campaign to withhold vital evidence from it by the Metropolitan Police.
Met Commissioner Cressida Dick was personally criticised in the report for delaying the panel’s work by not handing over information and not allowing access to the Met’s database in a timely manner.
As the report makes clear the corruption surrounding this case was the main factor in determining that Morgan’s murder would never be resolved.
The panel discovered that police and criminals mixed socially in pubs, while some were involved in ‘lucrative corrupt practices’ such as selling confidential information to private detectives and the press.
Morgan’s agency, Southern Investigations, was found to have close links with the now defunct News of the World.
In 2011 the Met was forced to admit that police corruption had been a ‘factor’ in the failure of the initial and subsequent investigations.
- A Metropolitan Police detective began a sexual relationship with a woman while he was investigating her over an alleged crime.
John McCarthy, then a detective constable, began sleeping with the woman in 2017 while investigating her for harassment.
His actions amounted gross misconduct, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found last Tuesday.
McCarthy worked in Enfield and Haringey, north London, at the force’s North Area Command Unit.
The relationship with the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, began in January 2017 while he investigated a case in which she was accused of harassing her ex-husband and his mother.
The harassment case against her was subsequently dropped.
Their relationship continued, and the IOPC investigation found Mr McCarthy and the woman had sex while he was on duty on 22 March 2017 attending a trial at Wood Green Crown Court. They also exchanged sexual text messages.
IOPC said McCarthy also obtained a loan of £3,580 from the woman between June and September 2017 and there was evidence to suggest he may have intended to permanently keep the money. He was also sent gifts from the suspect and did not declare the loan, relationship or presents to bosses.
The woman filed a County Court claim against him for failing to repay her when he later got into debt, leaving her ‘living off noodles’ and at risk of eviction from her home. McCarthy also failed to notify the Met of this.
Their relationship ended in October 2017.
McCarthy resigned from the Met last month, on 5 September, four years after the investigation into his misconduct began in January 2018 after a referral to IOPC from the force.
The IOPC’s two-day hearing concluded on Tuesday and found that if Mr McCarthy had not already resigned, he would have been dismissed by the Met. He has now also been placed on a ‘barred list’ of former officers who cannot work in policing in the future.
The IOPC’s regional director, Sal Naseem, said: ‘It is clear John McCarthy took predatory steps for his own sexual gratification and personal gain. This kind of behaviour had no place in policing. Mr McCarthy would have been dismissed with immediate effect for abusing the trust and power placed in him as a police officer had he not already resigned, and this is the outcome police officers should expect and receive.
‘His behaviour has had a serious and devastating impact on his victim, and a corrosive, lasting impact on the public’s confidence in individual officers and the police service in general.’
The victim said in a statement: ‘I felt I had to play along in the game by giving him gratification. I felt obliged to play along as there was an imbalance of power between us. I grew to love him but in the beginning he would toy with my feelings. I think it made him feel more powerful. He made me feel insecure and scared.’
She added McCarthy became ‘integrated’ into her life, with her family, friends and neighbours becoming aware of their relationship.
‘This affected confidence in the police as I don’t think he had told any of his colleagues,’ she said. ‘He was aware of my vulnerabilities and those of my child, and he was aware of my financial vulnerabilities.’
Superintendent Simon Crick, commander of McCarthy’s former unit at the Met, said: ‘Engaging in a sexual relationship with someone you are investigating as a suspect goes against the core principle that a police officer should discharge his or her duties with fairness, integrity and impartiality.’
He added: ‘The public deserve to have trust and confidence in the police and the outcome demonstrates how committed the Met is to rooting out wrongdoing within the organisation.’