The statement made by Kit Malthouse, the Minister for Crime and Policing, in the House of Commons on 13 December 2021.
I am sure the thoughts of the whole House are with the families and friends of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, and Jack Taylor. The stories we have all read, of their lives and terrible deaths, have moved and horrified the country.
The Government and the people we serve expect the highest standards from the police as they carry out their vital work protecting the public and investigating serious crimes. The conclusions of the inquest have shown that those standards were not met, and that investigative failures probably contributed to the deaths of three of the young men. The Metropolitan police has accepted as much. There are now serious questions for it to answer. It is profoundly important that the force takes responsibility for past failings and makes sure they are not repeated.
The primarily accountability body for the Met is the Mayor of London and the London Assembly, but the Metropolitan Police Service has assured us it is putting in place significant improvements, including: more and better trained investigators; new structures so that intelligence teams, specialists and officers on the ground can work more closely to identify and link crimes much earlier; and work to develop a greater understanding of the drug GHB and its use as a weapon in sexual assaults. It is also essential that the police build trust with all London’s communities and that includes LGBT+ community. I know that the Commissioner and her team are committed to doing so, at a time when the trust the public have in them has been seriously shaken by recent events.
It is, of course, right that the police handling of cases such as these is subject to independent scrutiny. Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary and fire and rescue services has been asked by the deputy Mayor of London and the commissioner to conduct an inspection into the standard of the Metropolitan Police Service’s investigations, and the Independent Office for Police Conduct is now assessing whether to reopen, either in full or in part, the investigation into the way that the Metropolitan Police Service handled the inquiries into the deaths of these young men.
The police perform an enormously important function in our society. It is a job that, on the whole, they do with skill, courage and professionalism. Only last Thursday, I attended the police bravery awards and heard stories of selfless heroism, but when things go wrong, it is profoundly important that lessons are learned and applied. We will continue to hold the Metropolitan police service and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to account in making sure that the failures highlighted by these truly awful cases are addressed.