A Scotland Yard unit tasked with fighting crime in the West End is at the centre of an inquiry into allegations of bullying, racism, drug use and perverting the course of justice.
Up to 11 officers face claims of wrongdoing stemming from an inquiry by a watchdog which was triggered by reports that an officer had sex with a woman at Charing Cross police station.
Most of the officers were on the Met’s West End Zone Impact Team, formed in 2014 to tackle night-time crime and violence around Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, which has now been disbanded. The Independent Office for Police Conduct today announced that the scope of the original inquiry had “widened considerably”.
It said analysis of phone messages between officers had uncovered evidence of a number of serious allegations involving the police team at Charing Cross. The allegations include:
Violence towards women and taking advantage of vulnerable people.
Perverting the course of justice by deleting messages relevant to a criminal investigation.
Bullying and inappropriate behaviour towards other officers, including sending threatening and malicious messages.
Racist, misogynistic and other discriminatory language and behaviour.
There were also allegations officers used drugs such as steroids and failed to report wrongdoing by other officers. The claims emerged from the IOPC inquiry launched last year into an allegation that an officer had sex with a vulnerable woman in a room at Charing Cross police station — described in some reports as a cell.
Scotland Yard said today that two sergeants and nine constables were under investigation. A former constable was also under investigation.
The Met said four officers, three constables and a sergeant, were on restricted duties and one constable had been suspended.
The IOPC said today that the allegations related to officers “predominately from a unit known as the Impact Team” and a small number of other “officers primarily based at Charing Cross police station or West End Central”. It added that the allegations revealed today did not apply to all officers. IOPC regional director, Sal Naseem, said: “These are very serious allegations and it is vital for public confidence that these are independently investigated.
“We are committed to using our enforcement powers to root out officers whose conduct undermines the public’s confidence in policing and who should not be wearing the uniform.
“There is no indication that this is part of any wider teams within the station but our over-arching report will consider the wider culture and team.
“We would also like to hear from other officers at Charing Cross station, or the wider public, who may be able to provide valuable information to our investigation.” Scotland Yard said in a statement: “The Met takes all allegations of wrongdoing extremely seriously and is fully co-operating with the IOPC investigation.
“The inappropriate behaviours in this matter appear to have been displayed through text messages and the use of social media apps.
“While the large majority of staff are responsible in their use of social media, the Met has issued guidance to all staff around the expectation that they, and colleagues, maintain the professional standards expected of them as a member of the Met at all times.
“Officers and staff also have a duty to report, challenge and take action against colleagues where they believe those standards have fallen.”
The force said the Impact Team was responsible for neighbourhood-based policing and problem-solving focused on the night-time economy around Leicester Square and Piccadilly.
The team was disbanded when Westminster police was restructured to became part of the Central West Basic Command Unit.