The Week, 20 January 2023
This week it was reported that serial predator and Metropolitan Police officer David Carrick admitted to dozens of rapes and sexual assaults over a two decade period. The total failure of the Met to stop this “heinously abusive man”, despite multiple red flags, is utterly inexcusable.
On Wednesday, the Home Office launched a rapid review into the process for dismissing officers. This internal review comes after Baroness Casey raised concerns in her interim report on culture and standards at the Met.
This week, the Home Office also published the terms of reference for ‘part 2’ of the Angiolini Inquiry, launched in the wake of the horrific kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by Met officer Wayne Couzens. Part 2 of the inquiry will “establish if there is a risk of recurrence across policing, to investigate police culture, and to address the broader concerns surrounding women’s safety in public spaces that were highlighted by Sarah Everard’s death.” It seems safe to say that “system, policies and processes for the recruitment, vetting and transfer of police officers” are very much not “fit for purpose”. Both David Carrick and Wayne Couzens had nicknames at work which indicated that colleagues were aware of inappropriate behaviour, calling into question a culture that allowed these men to remain in an institution tasked with protecting us. (For further evidence of a toxic culture read this from Claire Cohen in the The Telegraph).
At the Reform offices, we have been asking at what point the senior leadership of an organisation should be held culpable for presiding over such devastating failures.
This week Reform kicked off an already packed 2023 events programme with an ‘in conversation’ with two former permanent secretaries: Jonathan Slater and Philip Rycroft. Part of our ‘Reimagining Whitehall’ work stream, the event explored why reform has proven so hard, what the barriers are to achieving it, who should be responsible for driving it, and what needs to happen next.
We don't usually write about our events in ‘The Week’, but it was honestly brilliant: unusually candid, properly challenging and hugely insightful. As a taster, answering the very first question (why haven’t we solved the perennially cited problems, and who should be responsible for reform?), former DfE perm sec Slater said: “The majority of people at the top of the civil service haven't the faintest idea just how poor it is…and why haven’t the people at the top of the civil service got any idea how poor it is? Because they have never done anything else.” During the discussion we covered cognitive diversity, skills, the role of perm secs, devolution, short-termism and much more. And the best thing? You can watch it yourself here.
Now for your weekend reads…
First up is this report by Barnardo’s on Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) in English schools. Brief recap: since 2018, government has been rolling out small teams of mental health practitioners in schools to address the growing youth mental health crisis. That makes sense — take support to where young people are most likely to access it. But as we pointed out in our own paper last year, ‘A revolution in mindset’, MHSTs have not yet been properly evaluated, which means we don’t have enough evidence on what impact they are having on the ground. This report helpfully provides some — every £1 invested in MHSTs generates a £1.90 return and they are delivering big improvements in young people’s mood and anxiety levels. More needs to be done and Barnardo’s echo many of the recommendations from our report — the need to collect comprehensive outcomes data, conduct more rigorous cost-benefit evaluation, and examine who may be missing out on support — but it’s great to see more research in this vital area!
Your second read is from our friends over at Demos. Brilliantly titled ‘Teed up for success’, their paper explores public opinion in Tees Valley. With the cost-of-living crisis taking precedence, concern is emerging that the agenda will be forgotten. But Demos found that, while there was fear over the short-term cost, most felt optimistic about the longer-term potential of the agenda in their area. The paper also points out that supporting people through this crisis is supporting levelling up as we need to enable people to spend money in their local economies. Investment in town centres, for example, won’t reap rewards if the locals cannot afford to enjoy them.