The Met’s deputy commissioner Sir Stephen House, speaking at a meeting of the London Assembly police and crime committee on Wednesday, revealed that officers who report their colleagues are not automatically entitled to protection.
Asked whether whistleblowers’ claims were handled confidentially, Sir Stephen House said: “It depends on the circumstances. But, frankly, it is their duty as a police officer to report that, so they wouldn’t get anonymity as an automatic case and they may have to give evidence in court.”
The question came from Assembly Member Susan Hall, who also asked whether a lack of protection for whistleblowers would prevent officers from reporting their colleagues for misconduct or inappropriate behaviour.
The deputy commissioner said: “No. I joined the police to lock bad people up, whether they’re in uniform or not, and most of my colleagues are the same, so they would take pride in the fact that they’ve done that sort of thing and done some good for the organisation.”
The revelation comes amid claims of a “canteen culture” within the Met that allows officers to get away with inappropriate behaviour or misconduct.
During the sentencing of Wayne Couzens – the officer who kidnapped and murdered Sarah Everard – the judge said fellow officers had “spoken supportively” of him, despite him having shared homophobic and misogynistic messages with colleagues and being nicknamed “the rapist”.
Earlier this month, Met officers Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis were charged with committing misconduct in public office after sharing images of the bodies of murdered sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman on Whatsapp.
Following the sentencing, the Independent Office for Police Conduct warned officers were using messaging services like Whatsapp to share offensive or inappropriate messages “thinking they’re saying it in the equivalent of a tightly closed room”, but that “that’s not the case” and it is “undermining to public confidence and trust”.
Sir Tom Winsor, who leads the UK’s main police watchdog, has suggested that officers should be subject to random spot checks of their phones to tackle “revolting” conduct.
Speaking at City Hall on Wednesday, Sir Stephen said: “I think whatever the police service needs to do to ensure the highest levels of public trust… We probably need to look at doing things which are not normally acceptable to private citizens to ensure that the public can have the highest level of trust in the police.”