The Met has had one scandal after another – it's time to disband it

Another week, and another case of shame and scandal at the doors of the Metropolitan Police.

Olympic athlete Ricardo dos Santos was stopped in central London on Sunday by no fewer than seven armed police officers – who later said they were concerned about a driver possibly using a phone at the wheel. 

Dos Santos spoke out previously on his experiences driving in London after five officers, who are now facing a gross misconduct hearing, searched and handcuffed him and his partner, British sprinter Bianca Williams, while their three-month-old son was in the car.

I, and most of my Black friends, know from personal experience that being stopped and searched is humiliating and dehumanising and leaves you feeling a mixture of anger against the perpetrator and hatred for the institution that allows them to carry out these racially biased actions.

Once again, with the Met in crisis, there’s talk of reforms and diverse recruitment drives, but I have a much simpler, more effective, and radical solution – shut the Met down, sack top officers and rebuild from scratch.

It’s common knowledge to people of colour that we are unfairly targeted by the police, but in Britain’s capital the disparity is dizzying.

In England and Wales alone between April 2020 and March 2021, there were 7.5 instances of stop and search for every 1,000-white people, compared with 52.6 for every 1,000 Black people. 

Shockingly, almost half of all stop and searches took place in the Metropolitan Police force area in London and had the highest stop and search rates among all ethnic groups.

But for how long can we keep complaining about this force before someone at the top decides to make wholesale changes to what I think is a racist organisation? 

Amid the growing list of scandals, let’s not forget the force is under special measures while new commissioner Mark Rowley attempts to get a grip on things. 

Scrapping and reorganising a police force isn’t without precedent in the UK, as the case of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland proves. 

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In 2001, under recommendations of the Independent Commission on Policing, the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland disbanded and was replaced by completely new policing structures that were deemed more reflective of the community it serves and more accountable.

It marked the end of a police force that had been beset by scandal, and accusations of collusion with loyalist forces throughout its near 100-year history. 

The RUC had been created by the British Government in 1922 following partition, but within five years the RUC had grown into mainly Protestant force that treated Catholics with contempt, and by the time of its closure had just 8% Catholic officers.

While not perfect, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which replaced the RUC new force is strictly non-partisan, it is modern, professional and its officers reflect the makeup of their communities, something the Met currently can’t claim. The PSNI has 32% Catholic officers.

In addition the old RUC officers weren’t simply thrown on the scrap heap and forgotten about, provisions were put in place to help find them other jobs, with many working in security at home and abroad.

It’s drastic, but drastic action is what we need.

When Sarah Everard’s vigil was disrupted by officers seemingly man-handling protesters at the gathering in Clapham Common, it seemed a new audience was awake to the failings of the Met. 

Because of the image of white women being pushed around by the force, it felt like mainstream media and middle-Britain began to take things more seriously, and so there’s no better time to enact wholesale reform.

Misogyny and racism is a common theme with the Metropolitan Police. 

One of the most recent of their seemingly unending conveyor belt of scandals involved horrendously racist, misogynist and homophobic WhatsApp messages between officers based at Charing Cross police station.

The disgusting messages included offensive comments about African kids, Somali people, Auschwitz and multiple references to sexual violence and rape. 

One officer even bragged about hitting his girlfriend and said: ‘It makes them love you more.’

In another incident, Met officers were found guilty of taking photos of the bodies of two murdered sisters and sharing the images with colleagues, calling the victims ‘dead birds.’

Too often I hear the ‘most police aren’t racist’ or ‘it’s a few bad apples’ defences.

But if those so-called non racist officers are aware that their colleagues are targeting Black and Brown people unfairly, why isn’t there more whistleblowing on these few bad apples?

We need to shut the Met down, sack top officers and rebuild from scratch

A little further afield the city of Camden, in New Jersey, dissolved its police department 10 years and replaced it with a wholly new one after deep corruption left change within the previous regime impossible. 

Camden had regularly been named one of America’s most violent cities, but by 2019, crime had dropped by almost half. 

Now, officers host outdoor parties for residents, they introduce themselves in neighbourhoods – they, you know, actually police their communities by talking to them. 

Because of the police corruption, violently high crime rate and the lack of safety and trust from residents, city officials brought in new officers who led a move to community oriented policing. 

New recruits were focused on deescalation training, improving diversity within the force, and solving crimes, even pitching in at local kids’ sports games.

These goals may seem basic, because they are, and they’re proof, they are fact, they are examples that change is possible, but it must be radical and it must be revolutionary.

At home and abroad, disbanding police bodies has had a positive impact. To improve things in the capital, the Met must be next to fall. 

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