New Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley launches misconduct crackdown as plans are unveiled to give officers work smartphones that can be monitored after string of scandals
- Thousands of police officers at the Met will be issued with a work smartphone
- Previously, many officers were forced to use personal phone to collect evidence
- Initiative is first under Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley and as well as improving access to technology should also help monitor behaviour, reports suggest
Metropolitan police officers will be given smartphones in a bid to crack down on misconduct and improve their access to technology.
The initiative was one of the first to be launched under new commissioner Sir Mark Rowley who earlier this month pledged to ‘retake’ the scandal-hit force’s ‘integrity’.
According to the Times, the move means every officer will be able to use the new smartphones to communicate with each other and collect evidence.
In the past, thousands of officers were forced to use their own mobile phones to record evidence at crime scenes and conduct basic investigative work.
It follows a number of high-profile misconduct investigations which saw several police officers use their own mobile phones to send inappropriate messages and share crime scene pictures.
In December last year, officers Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis were jailed for almost three years after they were found to have taken and shared photos from a murder scene.
Met police officers will be given smartphones in a bid to crack down on misconduct and improve access to technology under the first initiative of new commissioner Sir Mark Rowley
Deniz Jaffer (left) and Jamie Lewis (right) were police constables assigned to guard the murder scene of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry and shared images on Whatsapp while on duty
A court heard the pair had ‘dehumanised’ the two black victims – Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry – by sharing photos of their bodies in two WhatsApp groups.
Messages shared with 41 police officers called the victims ‘dead birds’ in a group called ‘the A-team’ and other messages were also shared with Jaffer’s friends.
There was also outrage over a series of disturbing racist, sexist and homophobic messages that were exchanged by officers based at Charing Cross police station between 2016 and 2018, published by a watchdog earlier this year.
A bombshell report by the IOPC watchdog exposed a cruel, toxic ‘boys club’ culture among officers at Charing Cross police station.
It found cops made rape jokes, boasted about domestic violence and made vile racist remarks in WhatsApp exchanges.
Grim texts between officers about raping women, killing black children, paedophilia, Muslims, Auschwitz and disabled people were also published in the watchdog’s report.
Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, were stabbed to death at a park in London in 2020
Sources told the Times that giving officers work smartphones would not only improve their access to technology but would also allow senior managers to keep an eye on what their officers are up to.
Sir Mark Rowley, along with his new deputy Dame Lynne Owens, swore allegiance to the King on earlier this month, pledging to rebuild public trust.
The new head of the Metropolitan Police starts work during what is arguably one of the most turbulent times to face Britain’s biggest police force.
Sir Mark took an oath, known as an attestation, in which he swore to serve ‘with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people’.
He takes over as Commissioner at Scotland Yard after former boss Dame Cressida Dick resigned in controversial circumstances earlier in the year.
The force has been plagued by a series of scandals and missteps in recent years, leaving Sir Mark with the task of rebuilding public confidence.
The head of the Metropolitan Police Federation told the Times the initiative was a ‘completely positive’ move.
Ken Marsh added: ‘The cost [of using devices] should not be borne by the employee.
Sir Mark Rowley (left) and Deputy Commissioner Lynne Owens sign the Warrant Register at New Scotland Yard in London, where Sir Mark starts as Metropolitan Police Commissioner
‘This is moving the Met into the modern age of 2022, [it] will give officers direct access and the ability to keep in touch.’
The force was placed in a form of special measures by a watchdog earlier this year.
In a sternly worded letter before his tenure began, then-home secretary Priti Patel demanded that Sir Mark address the ‘appalling mistakes of the past’.
She wrote to Sir Mark earlier this month saying: ‘I expect the Metropolitan Police under your leadership to get the basics right and provide the first-class service expected of it.’
‘I also expect you, as Commissioner, to promote better leadership and higher standards at every level throughout the force.
Other issues facing Sir Mark are ongoing investigations into deaths following police contact including Oladeji Omishore who died after jumping from Chelsea Bridge; a man who drowned after trying to swim away from officers to avoid being arrested in Kingston; and Chris Kaba who was fatally shot by an officer in Streatham Hill.