Met chief Sir Mark Rowley calls for overhaul of criminal justice system

 Sir Mark Rowley speaking at the Policy Exchange event   (PA)
Sir Mark Rowley speaking at the Policy Exchange event (PA)

Criminals are escaping prosecution in large numbers because it is too hard to secure convictions, Sir Mark Rowley warned on Monday as he called for an overhaul of the justice system.

The Met Commissioner said it now takes five times as much work to take a case to court as it did three decades because of growing bureaucracy.

He said that was the reason that the number of crimes going unpunished – which now totals more than 90 per cent of overall recorded offences – had been rising year on year and that major changes were needed to reverse the trend.

“By some measures it now takes at least five times more work to get a case to court for the police and the CPS as it did 20 years ago,” Sir Mark told an event in London organised by the Policy Exchange think tank.

“When I see what is expected of officers it is way beyond what was expected of me as a Detective Sergeant 30 years ago.”

“If you make a system far more costly and bureaucratic it will achieve less. That is why we have fewer cases solved and successfully prosecuted year by year over the last couple of decades.”


The Commissioner added: “We need to let the police, police – this is about mission creep, bureaucracy and dispiriting tens of thousands of dedicated officers I have working for London and more widely the UK.

“We need to eliminate the things that are getting in the way of officers, diverting them from fighting crime and delivering on the mission we’ve set.”

Sir Mark also vowed to continue his purge on rogue officers in the wake of the succession of scandals that have hit the Met in recent years.

But he also signalled, without giving initial further details, that the police complaints system and other rules are sometimes hindering good officers as they seek to bring criminals to justice.

“I’ve always been clear that police officers must be held to a higher standard of behaviour than ordinary people,” Sir Mark said. “We are being more robust in doing so than has bene done for at least 50 years. We must come down hard on those who do not meet our standards, but we must also recognise the toll the current system has on honest officers doing their utmost to protect the public.

“But we also want officers to act with confidence when they face dangerous or determined criminals. We have a system of oversight and policy that discourages that.”