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Rishi Sunak supports expanding police powers despite damning Casey Report

The government is ‘confident’ in its decision to hand police new powers – despite scathing review of the Met Police

Ruby Lott-Lavigna
21 March 2023, 2.01pm

Rishi Sunak outside Number 10.


Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak supports the expansion of police powers in the UK despite a damning new report that outlines widespread “racism, misogyny and homophobia” in the UK’s biggest force.

On Tuesday, a scathing review into the Metropolitan Police authored by government official Louise Casey found “deep-seated homophobia” in the force, routine “sexism and misogyny” and “racist attitudes.”

Despite this, the prime minister has said he is happy to continue his government’s expansion of police powers through legislation such as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act or the Public Order Bill, both of which hand the police more power to crack down on protesters.

Just last year the government expanded police powers for stop and search, a policy that disproportionately targets Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Today the Casey Report called for a “fundamental reset” of the Met Police’s use of stop and search.

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Sunak “remains confident” in most police officers’ work and believes “the public would want us… to keep them safe”, Number 10’s official spokesperson said.

“The prime minister remains confident that the vast majority of police officers up and down the country are working to keep the public safe,” he said. “Whether that's in areas of terrorism or clamping down on illegal protests.

“I think the public would want us to continue to take steps where necessary to keep them safe.”

The Casey Report was commissioned following the murder of Sarah Everard in 2021 by a serving Metropolitan Police officer, Wayne Couzens, who used his status to carry out the attack.

It details shocking incidents of Met officers assaulting and raping women, racially abusing colleagues, and harassing gay colleagues about their sex life. Often there were little to no repercussions for the perpetrating officers.

The report also says that there may be more officers like Couzens and David Carrick, a serial rapist who committed crimes for over two decades while serving in the Met Police.

There is no public consent for expanded police powers when a majority... no longer trust the way officers will use them

Kevin Blowe, Netpol

Responding to the report, the prime minister said that “it’s clear there has been serious failures of culture and leadership and trust in the police has been hugely damaged.”

In the wake of the report, police monitoring organisations have urged the government to withdraw support for the Public Order Bill, which the government says will “bolster the police’s powers”. The bill is in its final stages in Parliament and is likely to be passed into law this year.

“Trust in the police has collapsed,” Kevin Blowe, coordinator for the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) told openDemocracy. “Evidence of racism, misogyny, homophobia and corruption are no longer the accusations of groups like Netpol, but the centre-piece of an official review.

“Unless ministers are hoping the public will quickly forget and the review can be quietly sidelined, as has happened so often before, the truth is that there is no public consent for expanded police powers when a majority in London, with Britain's largest police force, now no longer trust the way officers will use them.”

“The government should withdraw new powers in the Public Order Bill, but it won't. That is what makes it all the more important that we monitor, challenge and expose their inevitable misuse.”

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