Almost 14,000 people wanted by the Metropolitan Police for crimes including violence and sexual assault are at large, The independent can reveal.
“Serious concerns” were highlighted in a report which led to Britain’s biggest force being put into special measures in June. It said the high number of wanted offenders was “an area for improvement, as the number of suspects who remain outstanding for long periods grows”.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said Scotland Yard had set up units dedicated to catching “predatory criminals”, such as those who target women and girls, and arrested 1,200 outstanding suspects in five months.
But figures obtained by The independent shows that as of March there were still 13,785 wanted offenders in total.
The report was published less than a fortnight after new commissioner Sir Mark Rowley took up the post, and a day after two colleagues of Wayne Couzens were convicted of racist and misogynistic WhatsApp messages.
Deputy Commissioner Dame Lynne Owens said the Metropolitan Police had a “clear plan for change”.
“Our promise to London is ‘more trust, less crime, high standards’,” she added.
“Here, at the start of our first 100 days, we are bringing together expertise from across the Met and beyond, listening to our communities and workforce, to put the right plans in place and take swift action to deliver on our promise.”
Of the 10 performance areas inspected by HMIC, only one – crime prevention – was rated ‘good’, two ratings were ‘adequate’, five ‘requires improvement’ and one – response to the public – ‘inadequate’.
Among the areas that required improvement were the handling of suspects and offenders, as well as the investigation of crime and the protection of vulnerable people.
Inspectors found that although the force has a team dedicated to monitoring registered sex offenders and people convicted of serious violence when they are released from prison, there is a “lack of experienced officers” for the task.
“The force has a policy of removing detectives from [the team] and the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Online Team, to increase investigative capacity elsewhere, the report said.
It warned of a shortage of frontline detectives and police officers, adding: “Lack of experience in responding to and investigating crime incidents leads to delays for victims and makes final outcomes in the criminal justice system less likely to be successful.”
Inspectors warned that Boris Johnson’s program to recruit 20,000 extra police forces across the country in just three years was “creating an inexperienced workforce”.
It found that new constables were being managed by inexperienced supervisors and that around 1,500 officers leave the force each year “partly because of high workloads and poor supervision”.
HMIC also found that the Metropolitan Police lacked targets for responding to 999 and 101 calls, failed to identify vulnerable victims and gave them insufficient support during criminal investigations.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said the watchdog also had concerns about other areas, including anti-corruption efforts, which contributed to the Metropolitan Police being put into special measures in June.
He added that despite “many successes”, “the report raises serious concerns about how the force responds to the public and the level of understanding the force has about demand and its workforce”.
“The Met needs to improve how it responds to the public – at the moment its call management team is not able to respond quickly enough,” Parr added.
“Additionally, it is not correct to document victims’ decisions to withdraw from an investigation or to accept an out-of-court settlement.”
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The report said the special measures process, officially known as “engage”, would give the force additional scrutiny and support and see progress monitored.
Dame Lynne said it would work closely with HMIC and other partners to “help us turn around our achievements”.
Rebuilding public trust and pulling Scotland Yard out of special measures are key tasks for the new leadership, after the murder of Sarah Everard and a string of other scandals destroyed public trust.
A report commissioned by Priti Patel found Dame Cressida Dick had been forced to resign without “fair process” by Sadiq Khan earlier this year, but the mayor defended his actions, saying he had “lost confidence” in the former commissioner.
She quit in February, amid furor over racist, sexist and homophobic messages shared by a group of officers based at Charing Cross police station, and two separate inquiries into Metropolitan Police culture and control sparked by Ms Everard’s murder are ongoing.
In a strongly worded letter before his tenure began, Patel demanded that Sir Mark address “the appalling mistakes of the past”, including the searches of children and the failure of the investigation into serial killer Stephen Port.
There has also been criticism over the force’s approach to tackling corruption, its use of stop and search and its treatment of black people, with protests erupting over the fatal shooting of Chris Kaba earlier this month.