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Casey review: elite units leave exhausted and overworked BCU officers behind

The Borough is at the bottom and has the most junior and most jaded staff. Yet is deals with most of the Met's daily demand.

Casey review: elite units leave exhausted and overworked BCU officers behind

Date - 21st March 2023
By - Gary Mason
18 Comments 18 Comments}

For a report that will make headlines about racism, misogyny and other forms of discrimination Baroness Casey’s review contains a passage about one of the Met’s job ads. But perhaps it goes to the heart of why the country’s largest force has slid into special measures and crisis.

The slick recruitment video which clearly had high production values and a price tag to match, focused on specialist roles such as firearms and bomb disposal.

On viewing the ad a Met Fed rep commented: “If you look at the video a new serving officer will not be doing any of those things. It was very exciting a theatrical masterpiece but it’s not reality unfortunately. New constables will be working morning noon and night doing the most routine work there is and the hardest work there is in policing. What you’re seeing in the video is elite policing.”

Baroness Casey’s review is equally scathing. It says: “While the frontline is struggling and public confidence is at an all time low the culture of the Met drives them to spin excitement and promote elite policing roles. “

Meanwhile officers out in BCUs have to cope with poor conditions, no training or assessments and unmanageable workloads.

The Casey team who visited stations and work sites across the organisation said the contrast between BCUs and in particular the specialist Operational Command Units (OCUs) – such as the Major Investigation Teams, Taskforce and Firearms – was striking. These specialist units remain comparatively well-resourced, well-trained and well-supported, with good facilities, and experienced officers and staff. On arrival in one specialist OCU, the Review team were shown around the set-up, and saw the kit, the gym, and the special operations rooms. This never happened on a BCU visit.

The report said: “Long standing officers said that BCUs have always suffered from the comparison with specialist functions, but that their status as the poor relation had become more pronounced over the past five years.”

The review team found that frontline officers showed pride and resilience in their work and wanted to do a good job for the public. But there are no longer staff canteens across the Met to provide hot meals on shift. Rotas are constantly changing. Officers arrive for their eight hour shift to be told they will be doing a 12 hour shift instead. PCSOs wait six months for a uniform. Public Protection officers buy boxes of tissues for victims. Fridges and freezers containing rape forensic samples are iced up and taped shut. One officer told the review team:

"The Borough is at the bottom – it's the worst place to and supervision is poor, and you get hammered. Response has the most junior or most jaded staff.”

Austerity was imposed on the Met, but the leadership made choices about where these cuts fell, and local policing took the brunt with predictable consequences.

DA has doubled over 10 years to 100, 000 offences per year. Volume crime such as burglary and theft has declined while violence against the person and sexual offences have increased from 17 per cent of all crimes in 2012-13 to 31 per cent in 2022 -23.

The Met has lost 21 per cent of its civilian staff and two thirds of specials. PCSOs have halved.

The loss of experienced crime analysts and support staff has meant officers have had to backfill these roles. The report says this has eroded front line policing weakening the strongest day-to-day point of connection with Londoners as well as impacting its reactive capabilities.

Officers on the frontline feel forgotten about and neglected and as a result victims of crime get a poor service. One officer described how this happens:

"If an officer is shattered, has no welfare [support] and then goes to [a] call where a victim of crime needs one hundred per cent commitment, they won’t get that."

“They get to a call and know they have loads waiting for them – so they’re not thinking about the quality of service for victims. They’re just thinking about another day without a meal.”

Officers reported that they felt able only to fight fires, rather than to do any proactive work.

Response officers have 25 crimes to investigate and are then told by victims they are not doing the job well.

Levels of stress and overwork were compounded by fellow officers who did not pull their weight, avoided taking calls and were not undertaking sufficiently thorough investigations. In some workplaces, this had become the norm.

This has led to some common work avoidance techniques including  refusing to take a call, or pretending to still be on previous calls so they could take a break. This is known as ‘dodging the CAD’

On average, in BCUs, 25% of all Constables and 45% of Detective Constables are probationers. One Inspector described his team thus:

"46% were probationers within their first two years of service; all Sergeants but one were in their first year of Sergeant's service. It was my first Inspector’s job…[There was] a staggering lack of support, a staggering lack of experience."

But there was also a view that some very good people were joining the Met through Uplift but they were not being supported. One officer said: “A common belief is that everyone that joins the job now is rubbish and we were all great when we joined. It’s not true at all, there’s loads of really great people joining the job, they just get a much worse deal.”


A recurring theme in the report is that the management of people is poor. Instead of focusing on getting the basics right short term projects and campaigns have been launched from HQ without seeing them through. This wears down officers on the front line.

They experience slogans and spreadsheet returns instead of a clear and understood strategy for improvement. This is exacerbated by poor management. The report calls this “Initiative-it is”

The Casey team said it “witnessed clear signs of high stress and pressure among officers due to the nature of their work dealing with very stressful and upsetting situations working with traumatised vulnerable and dangerous people and facing daily abuse from the public.”

Frontline officers working on response and public protection teams were not being properly protected with psychological support to protect their mental health.

Sergeants and inspectors are expected to manage very large numbers of PCs and junior staff without the time or tools to do so.

Under current Met systems the review team said "it is easier for them to ignore poorly performing officers or let those with conduct issues get away with bad behaviour."

On one of its visits the review met with the SLT at the start of the day who talked about empowering their officers and staff, the opportunities to move around, their high morale and how well they were managing probationers and trainee detectives.

It then met a group of PCs and DCs. They felt trapped in their roles, close to exhaustion, unequal to the size and intensity of caseloads, and that they were not understood by their SLT.

They were followed by a group of Sergeants and an Inspector. In turn, they said they were too stretched to provide supervision, were critical of their new recruits for not being fit for the job, and said that they didn’t know where and when probationers were arriving or what stage of their training they were at

Moving 32 borough based police commands to 12 units has meant some are covering up to four boroughs. This has resulted in much weaker connections to long established communities.

London no longer has a functioning neighbourhood policing service the review concludes. It was promised to be ring-fenced but it is now a resource for back-filling other service like response according to the report.

Those running BCUs do not have authority over their patch and are not accountable for the actions of specialist teams like the TSG and Violent Crime Task Force.

RASSO burn out rates

Officers working on RASSO have burnout rates that were worse than frontline medical staff during the COVID-19 pandemic

One Detective Chief Inspector described Public Protection as the “worst it’s ever been” saying it is:“[P]ropped up by probationer TDCs [trainee Detective Constables] who are carrying 30 high risk crimes a head.”

A very experienced Detective Chief Inspector described direct entry detectives as being “members of the public really.” Another described supervisors, who are often rapidly promoted to support these new officers coming in: "they're not leaders, not managers, they're barely officers.”

Talking about the consequences of the strategic shift from specialisation to ‘omnicompetence', one officer said a Met murder investigation will receive a whole team of experienced and specialist trained detectives, whereas a woman raped and left in a coma would likely be dealt with by one trainee detective constable.

Many teams had only one substantive detective in a team of five or six.

The lot of new recruits

The review team heard considerable criticism from recruits on the PEQF programme and said It was “hard to elicit positive comments from new recruits.” The Met is the only force to deliver the PEQF through a third party provider and not directly through universities chosen by its management.  

The big complaint was the interface between university work and working in the BCU

The report said university tutors were not secure in their knowledge and understanding of policing, and lacked the practical experience officers felt they needed. Those tutors who had policing experience were highly valued.

Student officers did not feel connected either at university or at the BCU and told the review team  they had little contact with their assigned person. One group complained to the university who passed it on to the Met who passed it on to the training provider (Babcock).

The report made the following comment on this: "The absence of a Met police hand across the relationship with the universities and the training created a sense that the employer was detached from the training."

Several experienced officers felt that in moving away from Hendon and training recruits on university sites an opportunity has been lost for cementing recruits' connection to the Met and the real experience of policing London.

But beyond the PEQF system and probationer training the review said that supervision, assessment and training throughout the organisation was poor.

It says: “The absence of good training and supervision and management means people learn from what’s around them and will do things as they’ve always done them.

“The Met leadership has talked about the importance of supervision and management, but only picked this up with short-termed initiatives.

”Mediocre performance goes unchecked putting greater pressure on other officers to pick up the slack. It also seriously impedes the potential of good officers who are not given the support and challenges to progress. Far too much is left to chance.”

No performance development review

The majority of officers spoken to said there was no Performance and Development Review (PDR) system. In two BCU visited officers were inventing their own system to discuss and assess performance and training requirements. The review team said when queried this with HR “they advised us there was a corporate system but they accepted it was poorly used and had been under review. “

The general consensus was that the system was only used by those going for promotion and that such reviews were often a retrospective paper exercise with officers filling in a form to tick a necessary box for the promotion process.

Only 18 per cent of officers had completed a PDR. The second lowest completion rate was in front line policing at 13 per cent. (2,983 of 22,490). The lowest completion rate was digital which only had 169 people.

Officers were equally scathing about promotion within the Met. One said:  

“My experiences are people tend to go for promotion for the wrong reasons. They tend to go for promotion to better themselves but in a negative way...They’re not very competent as Police Constables so they believe being a Sergeant will give them an easy out. My experience is it can be selfserving.”

A ‘who you know culture’ provides the chance to act up, which in turn helps promotion prospects. This excludes those without those networks.

Tick-box training

Short term projects generated by officers to meet their evidence thresholds for promotion are renowned among teams. There is little consideration about whether the projects make positive or sustainable change.

Officers regularly said that they had to keep their own training records and that they were not held centrally.

For example, the Met could not tell the review team how many trained drivers they needed across the force, or how many detectives they needed.

In December 2020, a business case was put forward in the Met for large-scale investment in training and development. It identified that arrangements for learning in the Met had been inadequate for many years. Although the business case pointed to incremental improvements in training, it judged progress had been too slow to keep pace with changing needs or to meet the ‘exponential’ increase in demand.

In making the case for an investment of £18.5 million to improve learning and development, the paper highlighted long-standing risks and ‘unaddressed Audit recommendations’. These included the lack of data on current, required and future capability levels, due to the lack of workforce planning.

One officer said: “We lack data on both our existing and required capability levels, including in some of our most core operational skills (no confidence in where our trained drivers are across the organisation and what our true level of unmet demand is).

Responses to the Met’s own staff survey indicate serious dissatisfaction with learning and development.

The review team heard on more than one occasion that virtual training was completed by deputing one team member to sit in a room and complete the training by ticking the boxes for all team members.

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Ordered by:
A Security Vocational Trainer - Mon, 03 April 2023

Following on from the Casey Review,there is a very big danger that with current social media stories affecting the views of the public ,Misogyny might start to be perceived as a Hate Crime.
If so ,then MISANDRY ,the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice AGAINST men , should also be similarly considered a Hate Crime………..Food for thought !