The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, has accused the home secretary of delaying attempts to clean up policing amid mounting frustration among senior officers that they remain unable to sack rogue officers.
Khan has written to Suella Braverman urging her to stop dragging her feet over pushing ahead with new laws that allow police chiefs to get rid of corrupt officers.
The mayor’s letter was sent hours after the head of the Metropolitan police, Mark Rowley, lamented on Thursday that it was “nonsensical” he did not have the power to sack staff who were offenders or who were feared to pose a risk to the public.
Forces such as the Met are still governed by “police regulations” instead of normal employment law, meaning that leaders including Rowley do not have the power to dismiss rogue officers.
Khan writes: “As home secretary you not only have the power but the responsibility to ensure there is no further delay in legislating to allow police chiefs to sack officers who should not be serving,”
The mayor, who is responsible for setting policing priorities for the Met and holding Rowley to account, added: “We must equip the Met’s leadership with the practical powers they desperately need to take swift action, without the hindrance of regulations which get in their way.”
Rowley had admitted that the Met had “hundreds of people who shouldn’t be here” as cases of officers previously accused of violence against women are re-examined.
Rowley has diverted dozens of officers from tackling terrorism and organised crime to investigate wrongdoing in the force and “remove the cancer from the body”.
Khan, who ousted Rowley’s predecessor, Cressida Dick, for failing to purge the Met of rogue officers, stated that although Braverman has promised to unveil proposals next month to clean up policing it was still “unclear” when they would be ready to be used by the Met commissioner.
“Too often government legislation is delayed and pushed into the long grass,” said Khan. The mayor also revealed his office had responded to a Home Office consultation on new powers to tackle corrupt officers more than six weeks ago but had still not received a response.
“To demonstrate to Londoners the urgency of the challenge, we need a guaranteed timetable that ensures police chiefs nationally have proper powers in law to sack corrupt officers, while of course ensuring due process. This must happen as soon as possible,” he said.
His intervention follows Louise Casey’s review into the Met which uncovered widespread racism, homophobia and misogyny. The Met has faced a deluge of claims of sexual misconduct, misogyny and predatory behaviour after Sarah Everard was murdered by Wayne Couzens, a firearms officer, in March 2021.
In January this year, David Carrick was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years for attacking a dozen women in 17 years while working at the Met. That case led to Operation Onyx, a review of 1,131 serving officers and staff who had previously faced allegations of sexual offences or domestic abuse. Of these, 196 will be subjected to risk assessments or vetting reviews amid concerns that they pose a risk.
All 50,000 employees of the Met are also being checked against the police national database, used for intelligence. So far, a fifth have been checked, with 38 cases of potential misconduct uncovered.
On Thursday, Rowley’s exasperation with the inability to root out corrupt officers was evident in radio interviews, when he attacked the police regulations that stopped him firing unsavoury staff. “Those regulations over time have become byzantine and complex. So not having clear provision to dismiss people who have failed the revetting process is crazy.”
The commissioner added: “People will be shocked. Some of the people on that list of criminal convictions are people that the Met has sacked [and then seen reinstated].”
A source close to Braverman said she had moved “decisively” to introduce powers to allow chief constables to sack rogue officers more easily. “To suggest she’s dragging her feet is nonsensical.” The Met declined to comment.