Police may be facing Met’s phone spot-checks

Scrutiny of officers’ handsets and social media could test their ‘views’

Friday, 8th April — By Tom Foot

bas javid

MPS Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid

THE Met is considering random spot-checks on the personal phones of its own officers after a probe revealed shocking racist and sexist messaging between Charing Cross police.

Checks may be required to “assess whether they are expressing inappropriate views that undermine their ability to be a police officer” as the watchers become the watched.

The formal monitoring of officers’ phones and social media accounts is “a contested and complex area but one in need of a national debate,” the Metropolitan Police Service said yesterday (Thursday).

The Independent Office for Police Conduct had made 15 recommendations after a toxic series of messages “that went beyond laddish banter” were discovered during an internal probe.

Muslims were described as “fanatics” while Somalis were called “rats” by officers who boasted about “battering one the other day”.

Officers bragged about sex in the police station, getting pumped-up on steroids, and about attending a festival dressed as sex offenders. There were num­erous references about rape and tips about controlling women physically and mentally to “make you them love you more”.

The IOPC had said that the problems facing the force could not be categorised as “just a few bad apples” and said structural changes were required.

One of the 14 officers in the Charing Cross unit was fired and another resigned.

But the others have remained working as police after “reflective practice” training.

MPS Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid said he wanted to use the findings to “drive forward lasting change”, adding: “Like so many people I was disgusted to see officers involved in sharing deeply offensive and discriminatory messages.

“Their behaviour was unacceptable. I know many of my colleagues across policing also felt ashamed and disappointed.

“While the team involved in this case was disbanded a number of years before the report was published, and the IOPC has recognised that we have already taken steps to improve our culture and standards, it’s clear we still have a large amount of work to do.”

An MPS statement said it wanted to consider “whether we should have the ability to review the personal phone and social media accounts of officers and staff – on a random or with-cause basis – to assess whether they are expressing inappropriate views which may undermine their ability to be a police officer, or which could undermine public trust and confidence”.

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