BROKEN YARD: Fall of the Metropolitan Police - explosive book on 30 years of scandals out next week


THE Met Police should be broken up into smaller forces as it is too big for one commissioner to manage, a former top judge has claimed.

Sir Richard Henriques claims it is currently "unmanageable" and there are also too many senior ranks within the force and it should be slimmed down to make it more accountable.

His claims are made in a new book by fleet street journalist Tom Harper which documents a series of scandals that have dogged Britain's biggest police force over the past 30 years from the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, to the shocking Operation Tiberius corruption report that the force still refuses to comment on, through to the killing of Sarah Everard by serving police officer Wayne Couzens (below).

Broken Yard: The Fall of the Metropolitan Police, which is due to be published on Tuesday (October 4), charts Scotland Yard’s fall from a position of unparalleled power to the "troubled and discredited organisation we see today, barely trusted by its Westminster masters and struggling to perform its most basic function: the protection of the public," according to Mr Harper.

It looks at a series of scandals, including corruption claims surrounding the 1987 axe murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan, the phone hacking scandal and the shooting by the force of Jean Charles de Menezes.

Mr Harper said: "This book explains how London’s world-famous police force got itself into this sorry mess – and how it might get itself out of it."

It covers the downfall of former Commissioner Cressida Dick and the recruitment of her new replacement Sir Mark Rowley (below), who took up the post last month (Sep) and set out his priorities for turning around the force last week, including a pledge to attend all burglaries and a blitz on wanted crooks.

With almost 34,000 officers, the Met is by far the UK's biggest police force with nearly double the number of the around 17,000 officers covering the whole of Scotland and close to five times the around 7,000 covering Greater Manchester and the West Midlands respectively.

It spans the whole of the Greater London area, except for the Square Mile, which is covered by the country's smallest force, City of London Police, which has less than 1,000 officers.

Mr Harper carried out interviews with Sir Richard (below), who carried out a damning review of the Met's handling of Operation Midland, its investigations into fictitious sex abuse claims against VIPs by Carl Beech, as part of research for the book.

He wrote: "For Henriques, the Met is perhaps unmanageable now. 'One possibility for consideration is the refinement of the Met, which may be too large to be governable,’ he told me. ‘It could be broken up into four, with a completely separate force for non-detection duties.’

"Sir Richard Henriques also believes there are ‘far too many’ ranks in the Met: There are five ranks above chief superintendent. In Midland they were all involved. The commissioner, the deputy commissioner, and an assistant commissioner were all receiving reports.

"There was a deputy assistant commissioner who was very heavily involved, a commander, a chief superintendent, a chief inspector, an inspector, a sergeant and some twenty constables.

"Henriques says he was infuriated by the rank structure during his review of Operation Midland. Officers at varying levels were all involved in a court application that misled a judge, with disastrous consequences.

"‘In Midland, whilst it was the deputy assistant commissioner who gave authority for the search warrants, it was drafted by an inspector and signed by a chief inspector,’ Henriques told me.

"'It was very difficult to attribute responsibility for the fact that a district judge was misled to any one particular officer.'"

Sir Richard is not the first to suggest a shrinking of the Met to help solve its problems.

In June, after the Met offered £5,000 one-off payments to officers from other forces to join its ranks due to recruitment problems, Roger Hirst, (above) Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, also described the Met as unmanageable due to its size when he offered in an open letter to take control of some of its eastern areas.

He wrote: "In its current form the Met looks to be virtually unmanageable and incapable of reform. Smaller forces appear to be more responsive and effective.

"Perhaps, rather than their taking a large number of our officers, we should take on the management of some of their areas and reduce the size of their problem to a level they can get to grips with. There are towns such as Romford, Hornchurch and Walthamstow many of whose residents still think they are part of Essex."

The book also claims Ms Dick (above) beat Sir Mark to the Commissioner post when she was appointed in 2017 because then Prime Minister Theresa May felt she would have more control over the former.

Mr Harper wrote: "One source involved in the commissioner’s appointment told me that the then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, actually preferred Rowley.

"But she was concerned that he had ‘challenged’ Theresa May, her predecessor, now Prime Minister, too often. Rudd is said to have plumped for Dick in order to please her boss."

A Met Police spokesman said: "Our focus is on taking forward the ambitious reforms set out by new Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley as the Met works to deliver more trust, less crime and high standards for Londoners. We will not be commenting on the claims made in this book."