Broken Yard: The Fall of the Metropolitan Police

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Broken Yard: The Fall of the Metropolitan Police

Broken Yard: The Fall of the Metropolitan Police

RRP: £20.00
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His central message is this: the Metropolitan Police has morphed into an organization whose main purpose is to defend the Metropolitan Police.

The Met police has had an annus horribilis, from the jailing of its officer Wayne Couzens for the murder of Sarah Everard, to scandals involving sexist and racist “banter”, to the conviction of two officers for posting photographs of the murdered sisters, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, and culminating in the controversial departure of Cressida Dick and the arrival last month of her replacement, Mark Rowley. A fish may rot from its head, as author wondered in a concluding chapter, but you could be more forensic and ask whether the problem in the hierarchy is rather of a lack of grip from the top down to stations (and why does one station have a better occupational culture than another? Harper chronicles in coruscating detail ‘the scandal after scandal’ that has buffeted the force since the 1990s and left the Met a demoralized ‘shadow of its former self’. Today, our everyday experiences leave us with no difficulty in believing that corruption and inefficiency exist throughout the ranks. They range from Blue: Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces, a memoir by John Sutherland, to this year’s Tango Juliet Foxtrot (TJF): How Did It All Go Wrong for British Policing?Is it a hopeful sign that bad things are getting at least confronted in public, or bad in that it depresses public trust in those institutions, not easily regained? Harper’s explanation of the phone-hacking scandal offers more than the well-worn narrative about sleazy, immoral journalists paying off greedy cops. If Broken Yard is an unsettling read, is that because it’s unfair to the force or because it’s all too fair?

The fact is that whether this book had come out the year before or next year, it would still have been timely, because the Met does seem to lurch from one crisis to the next. Boris Johnson’s reckless, illegal parties at Downing Street during the pandemic prompts Harper to wonder how the police, busy nicking people for small infractions of lockdown rules, managed to be in attendance yet not see a thing. In the case of murderer Wayne Couzens, who killed Sarah Everard, Harper highlights how the police referred to their colleague as a “former” officer to deflect blame. Harper includes links between officers investigating the case and the father of one of the convicted men, how officers spied on Stephen’s parents, and how they bullied and targeted Stephen’s best friend.

Until this changes – and until a caveman canteen culture is addressed – the crisis within our police force looks never ending.



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