Freedom of Information: News

Met Police won’t reveal abuse claims against its own sexual violence unit

Exclusive: The force said publishing allegations against sexual violence team would ‘breach their right to privacy’

Martin Williams
19 January 2023, 11.16am

The Met Police has refused to disclose details of sexual abuse allegations against its officers


PjrNews / Alamy Stock Photo

London’s Metropolitan Police has refused to say how many officers in its Sexual Offences Unit have been accused of sex offences.

Data chiefs at the force told openDemocracy that publishing the statistics would be a breach of privacy.

The shocking refusal comes amid renewed criticism of the police force, after a serving officer was revealed to be one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders.

Earlier this week, PC David Carrick admitted to dozens of sexual offences committed over two decades, including 24 counts of rape.

Help us uncover the truth about Covid-19

The Covid-19 public inquiry is a historic chance to find out what really happened.

His campaign of abuse and terror continued despite concerns being brought to the attention of the Met Police over nine incidents, including rape allegations.

The force’s assistant commissioner, Barbara Gray, admitted: “We should have spotted his pattern of abusive behaviour and, because we didn't, we missed opportunities to remove him from the organisation.”

On Tuesday, the Met Police announced a review of 1,600 cases of alleged sexual offences or domestic violence involving its own officers and staff.

But openDemocracy can reveal that the force is refusing to disclose details of allegations made against those responsible for investigating them.

The Met Police is reviewing 1,600 cases of alleged sexual offences or domestic violence involving its officers and staff

Set up last year in response to a series of sexual abuse scandals, the Domestic and Sexual Offences (DASO) Unit is designed to expose abusive officers and “get out the bad cops”.

But the force rejected a Freedom of Information request sent by openDemocracy asking how many members of DASO had themselves faced sexual abuse allegations – and what the outcome of disciplinary action had been.

The Met Police said publishing the data could “publicly reveal information about an individual or individuals, thereby breaching the right to privacy”. They added that it “would risk undermining the disciplinary process”. openDemocracy is appealing the decision.

The excuses come despite the fact that police have previously disclosed the same information about other teams within Scotland Yard.

Last year, openDemocracy revealed how Met Police officers had been allowed to keep their jobs after sending racist and sexist messages. The scandal was uncovered only after a 12-month battle by the police force to keep the details secret.

In October, a report by former victims commissioner for England and Wales Louise Casey claimed that hundreds of officers in the force have been getting away with misconduct and criminal offences. It said that cases of sexual misconduct and discriminatory behaviour were less likely to result in a ‘case to answer’ decision than other issues.

This week PC David Carrick admitted raping nine women, some on multiple occasions

Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley this week blamed “weak decision-making” on his force’s “spectacular failure” to arrest serial rapist PC David Carrick earlier. He told the BBC: “We have been too weak on this, systematically, for some time.”

Carrick was vetted in 2001 and again in 2017, but passed on both occasions. As a member of the force’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, he was tasked with policing parliamentary, government and diplomatic premises. He was suspended only in October 2021 after a second rape allegation was made against him.

In court, the 48-year-old admitted raping nine women, some on multiple occasions. He called women his “slaves” and locked some of his victims in a small cupboard under the stairs in his house for hours without food. Some women were also whipped with a belt or forced to clean his house naked.

His conviction follows that of his former Met Police colleague, Wayne Couzens, who abducted, raped and murdered Sarah Everard in 2021.

Two other Met officers were found guilty last year of sharing offensive messages with Wayne Couzens. And in another case last year, three officers were accused of sharing videos on WhatsApp that were “explicitly racist, homophobic, sexist, ableist and Islamophobic”.

Why should you care about freedom of information?

From coronation budgets to secretive government units, journalists have used the Freedom of Information Act to expose corruption and incompetence in high places. Tony Blair regrets ever giving us this right. Today's UK government is giving fewer and fewer transparency responses, and doing it more slowly. But would better transparency give us better government? And how can we get it?

Join our experts for a free live discussion at 5pm UK time on 15 June.

Hear from:

Claire Miller Data journalism and FOI expert
Martin Rosenbaum Author of ‘Freedom of Information: A Practical Guidebook’; former BBC political journalist
Jenna Corderoy Investigative reporter at openDemocracy and visiting lecturer at City University, London
Chair: Ramzy Alwakeel Head of news at openDemocracy

We’ve got a newsletter for everyone

Whatever you’re interested in, there’s a free openDemocracy newsletter for you.


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData