Labour vow specialist rape units and training to tackle ‘toxic’ police culture

Labour leader Keir Starmer and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper  (PA Wire)
Labour leader Keir Starmer and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper (PA Wire)

Specialist sexual assault units would be set up in every police force and domestic violence experts put in all 999 call centres under Labour proposals announced on Tuesday.

Sir Keir Starmer laid out his party's police reforms plan following Baroness Casey's damning report into the Metropolitan Police.

The Labour leader, who previously worked as a legal adviser to the Northern Ireland Policing Board, vowed an overhaul of all UK forces to restore public trust and tackle “toxic” culture.

He promised mandatory, nationally set police vetting, to ensure only those who are fit to become officers, as well as automatic bans for applicants with a history of domestic abuse, indecent exposure or sexual assault.

All officers would have to take specialist training, including on bias and violence against women and girls, he said.

Sir Keir also pledged more routes into policing for people from different backgrounds, including direct routes into detective work.

It comes after a landmark 360-page report on Tuesday branded the Met racist, sexist and homophobic.

Baroness Casey revealed a number of disturbing incidents, stating that women in the force were “traded like cattle”, there were initiation rites with recruits being urinated on, and racist actions including a Muslim officer finding bacon in his boots.

Sir Keir said: “I pay tribute to Baroness Casey for her report which shines a light on the utterly toxic culture that has been allowed to flourish in the Metropolitan Police.

“The racist, sexist and homophobic abuses of power that have run rife in the Metropolitan Police have shattered the trust that Britain’s policing relies on and let victims down.

“For 13 years there has been a void of leadership from the Home Office, which has seen Britain’s policing fall far below the standards the public have the right to expect.

“The scale of change required is vast. But the lessons I witnessed from policing reform in Northern Ireland show that it can be done.

“A Labour government will take responsibility, overhaul policing and raise standards."

Sir Mark Rowley, who was appointed Met Commissioner last year, on Tuesday insisted that he was determined to implement the reforms needed to restore trust in policing in London.

Suella Braverman said Baroness Casey's report, commisoned after the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard by serving officer Wayne Couzens, makes for "very concerning reading".

The Home Secretary told the Commons on Tuesday that there had been "serious failures of culture, leadership, and standards" in the force, and some issues could take years to fully address.

She added: "That's why Sir Mark Rowley's top priority since becoming Commissioner has been to deliver a plan to turn around the Met and restore confidence in policing in London.

"Baroness Casey's report finds deep-seated cultural issues in the force, persistent poor planning and short-termism, a failure of local accountability, insularity and defensiveness, a lack of focus on core areas of policing including public protection, and she highlights the recent decline in trust and confidence in the Met among London's diverse communities.

"The report underlines the fact that the Met faces a long road to recovery."