NO MISCONDUCT: Says IOPC after probe into senior Met Police DPS officers triggered by whistleblowers
EIGHT senior Met Police officers and a member of staff, all from the professional standards department, have been cleared of any misconduct following a three year probe launched after three whistleblowers in the department claimed investigations had been interfered with by senior officers.
An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) under Operation Embley has concluded that no officer or member of police staff has a case to answer for misconduct. The force said the major probe and only identified "some organisational learning" which has led to some changes to working practices within the department.
The allegations included interference in investigations to downgrade the severity of charges against an officer; failing to properly engage with evidence presented and abuse of process while conducting an investigation; and dropping an allegation of racist behaviour to protect the reputation of the MPS. The claims related to more than 25 internal investigations.
Thirty-eight allegations against 15 officers and one staff member were received but, following these were reduced following an extensive scoping exercise and review of evidence, which looked at around five million emails and statements made by the officers.
A Met Police spokesman said: "In November 2017 the Metropolitan Police Service referred allegations regarding the conduct of staff within the Directorate of Professional Standards to the IOPC. The IOPC began an independent investigation.
"The investigation, which the Met fully cooperated with, focused on whether eight officers and one member of police staff had abused their position to affect ongoing internal misconduct investigations."
Operation Embley focussed on 21 allegations, which include influencing disciplinary investigations. All the officers, who are between the ranks of chief inspector and chief superintendent, were served notices that they were under investigation. None of the officers or staff member were suspended and four remained within the DPS on restricted duties, one retired and the three others had moved to different departments at the time of the probe but not as a result of it.
The spokesman added: "The IOPC investigation concluded in July 2020 that the allegations were either not corroborated or disproved and no officer or member of police staff had a case to answer for misconduct, nor were any performance issues identified. Some individual learning for two officers was identified. "Some learning was also identified around the DPS’s working practices at the time such as a lack of communication to the wider team, particularly about policy and police regulation changes."
Commander Paul Betts, Professionalism, said: “We are pleased following a complex and lengthy IOPC investigation that no evidence of misconduct was identified for these experienced members of the DPS team. It is of course important these allegations were thoroughly investigated but the impact on those directly affected should not be underestimated.
“We have improved communication within the DPS by making changes to our structure. This includes how we appoint an ‘appropriate authority’, a more senior officer who makes decisions on misconduct investigations, and the creation of a dedicated team to liaise directly with the IOPC.
"We have also improved our record keeping and trained officers and staff around the importance of this and how to use new IT systems now in place.
“These measures allow us to be far clearer on correct processes to follow, clarify roles and responsibilities and avoid any confusion and misunderstanding by colleagues. Our aim is to encourage a culture of openness, transparency and accountability in all our decision making.”