Our statement on the appointment of Sir Mark Rowley QPM as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Force
Given the scandals that have rocked the Met since the damning findings of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry over 20 years ago, and the special measures in which the Met now finds itself, the new Commissioner Mark Rowley faces an important and incredibly difficult job in bringing London’s police service up to standard.
His remit demands nothing less than the implementation of systemic change, and a focus on every aspect of the Met’s organisational culture in order to resolve those widespread prejudices that have long afflicted the capital’s police force, and so failed those communities that the Met represents and serves.
The capricious and discriminatory use of police powers, including the unlawful strip searching of our children, sees London’s minority ethnic communities subjected to the very worst elements of the criminal justice system. We are deeply concerned that pending legislation like the highly controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and Public Order Bill will only extend the range of scenarios in which an unreformed Met can abuse its powers.
Needless to say, it is not only racially minoritised communities that have suffered the consequences of the Met’s pervasive and deeply institutionalised prejudice. The new Commissioner must work hard to win back trust and confidence across society; among women, Muslims, the LGBTQ+ and disabled communities to name but a few of those groups that have faced sustained abuses of police power in London.
Such is the extent of the crisis of confidence in the Met, there is no time to beat about the bush. Our police service is crying out for effective leadership. The new commissioner will need to move quickly to win the confidence of communities that, statements made by him in the past would suggest, he has not understood well.
In particular, we note comments Commissioner Rowley has made about Muslim communities and terrorism. Issues such as crime and counterterrorism need to be tackled robustly from an evidence-based perspective and not, in any way, be shaped in the context of the divisive narratives that have so damaged the quality and effectiveness of public debate these last few years.
While the challenges are clearly numerous, the Runnymede Trust offers its wholehearted support to the new Commissioner and any constructive initiative intended to solve the Met’s institutionalised prejudices, including its racism and misogyny.
Join our mailing list
Join our community and stay up to date with our latest work and news.
On matters concerning racial justice, we have something to say.