Metropolitan Police Chief Cressida Dick has been forced to defend recruitment standards as leaked documents reveal cases of violent unrest, cheating and dishonesty among trainees at Britain’s largest police force.
The incidents involve recruits at the Met’s main training center and will raise concerns about its ability to provide an effective service, as sources within the force allege lower standards for trainees as recruiting intensifies .
A leaked document shows that in July last year, a recruit from Met’s Hendon Police College was arrested after punching and heading a police officer while allegedly under the influence of the alcohol and drugs.
Other documents reveal cases of dishonesty among recruits and emerge weeks after the force was accused of “institutional corruption” following an investigation into the unsolved murder of a private investigator.
The revelations will put further pressure on the Met and its beleaguered leader after a week in which Dick came under heavy criticism after ticketless fans stormed the Euro 2020 final at Wembley, the latest in a litany of scandals to strike the force.
The documents reveal that during an internal question-and-answer session in July last year, Dick was forced to deny rumors that an entire group of Hendon recruits had failed the initial selection process but still had received a start date because Numbers ”.
An officer asked him: “This obviously raised concerns. [about] the officer level / standard that we will achieve through recruit training.
In his subsequent response, dated July 29, 2020, Dick said, “I can reassure you that this rumor is not true. We are not lowering the recruitment standards in any way.
However, a source at the Hendon training center told The Observer: “The standards have dropped dramatically. This is of deep concern to many coaches and senior Met officers who want the force to meet the highest standards. “
A Met spokesperson, however, “strongly refuted” any suggestion that standards for recruiting or training recruits had dropped.
The source also cited lingering concerns within the Met that trainers have become more lenient with poorly behaved trainees due to difficulties in attracting high quality candidates. Again, the allegations were vehemently denied, with the Met saying it had “absolutely no trouble recruiting officers” and attracting hundreds of applications each month, with none allowed to begin training at. unless you have gone through a rigorous assessment process.
On Friday night, Met officer Wayne Couzens was sacked with immediate effect after pleading guilty to the kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard in March. However, questions remain as to how he was accepted at the Met and whether adequate vetting was carried out.
In April, another Met rookie, Benjamin Hannam, was convicted of joining a neo-Nazi terrorist group and lying on his request and control forms to join the force.
The allegations around the Hendon center come as the force tries to quickly train recruits to keep its share of Boris Johnson’s pledge to add 20,000 more officers to England and Wales. The Met has more than 8,000 applications being processed, with the strength to recruit more than 3,000 new officers this exercise.
The documents, seen by the Observer, show that in May last year, a recruit was allowed to continue training after being discovered cheating on a known “knowledge retention exam”. under the name of KRE-3, then to lie about his actions.
In an initial internal report on the incident, a senior officer said, “We now have a situation where this officer cheated and then lied.
“It is, for me, the most serious breach of standards. Honesty and integrity… we must not tolerate this breach of trust.
In March 2020, another police trainee admitted to cheating on an MG11 assessment – which measures a police officer’s ability to take an accurate witness statement – by copying the work of another trainee.
When the trainee admitted to cheating, he was allowed to resume his training after being warned “of his integrity and the serious implications of writing evidence while on the street.” The Met said after being the subject of a formal action, the intern resigned.
That same month, two police students were caught cheating on an exam and were investigated by the Met’s professional standards branch.
After admitting to cheating to a senior officer, one of the students was forced to retake the exam, which they passed, and received a formal warning. The second trainee officer suspected of cheating has resigned.
In another case, from June of last year, a police trainee was questioned by senior officers after being caught bragging about using a “gooseneck” wrist lock – a technique of respect pain – to restrain a shoplifter when not on duty.
When asked to explain his actions and why they had not documented him using an official ‘use of force’ form, the intern said he tried to prevent a man stealing perfume.
Later he changed his story and told senior officers that “he made it all up” and added that “to make friends he exaggerates and lies”. The intern then resigned.
The recruit who butted an officer last July was immediately suspended from duty and, after pleading guilty to the offenses, was convicted and fired from the Met.
The latest revelations of dishonesty among interns come at a time when UK police are increasingly concerned about crime.
In May, Met officer Kashif Mahmood, who used his position to help a criminal gang seize money from other offenders, was sentenced to eight years in prison.
A statement from the Met said, “We set the highest standards for our future officers as well as our current strength.
“Of the thousands of new recruits the Met trains each year, very few fall below expected standards of performance and conduct. They are handled appropriately on a case-by-case basis and, where appropriate, cases will be referred to the Met Police Professional Standards Branch.
He added that any deviation from the “highest standards of professionalism” was dealt with quickly and could result in the force being dismissed.
He also said new recruits undergo extensive initial training of two to three years in accordance with the National Policing Curriculum established by the College of Policing and accredited by four London universities.