Broken Yard: The Fall of the Metropolitan Police

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Broken Yard: The Fall of the Metropolitan Police

Broken Yard: The Fall of the Metropolitan Police

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If Broken Yard is an unsettling read, is that because it’s unfair to the force or because it’s all too fair? A lot of decision-makers have not had an investigative background… They are very ambitious, very good public speakers, but not necessarily investigators and therefore they don’t really understand what it actually entails. Whereas the likes of the Krays in the 1960s robbed banks, risky and visible, their equivalents now are doing cyber, and profiting from the drugs trade and trafficking.

Harper examines key episodes from the Met’s recent history, with frank contributions from insiders, in a book that should be essential reading for the new commissioner. A fish may rot from its head, as author wondered in a concluding chapter, but you could be more forensic and ask whether the problem in the hierarchy is rather of a lack of grip from the top down to stations (and why does one station have a better occupational culture than another? YEARS ago a detailed critique of the Metro­politan Police would have been shocking because the force – though in fact far from perfect – enjoyed a reputation of being effective and mostly incorruptible.Spanning the three decades from the infamous Stephen Lawrence case to the shocking murder of Sarah Everard, Broken Yard charts the Met’s fall from a position of unparalleled power to the troubled and discredited organisation we see today. While most of the tales are, at a basic level, fairly familiar, what Harper has managed to do is to put them lucidly in context and then add the inside knowledge from the protagonists, whether detectives, witnesses, victim or suspects, many of whom have spoken remarkably frankly to him.

The shock in reading journalist Tom Harper’s Broken Yard, a new critique of 30 years of Met policing, is in realising just how wide­spread and rotten it is. While not taking anything away from the strength of the book – the ‘fall’ of the Yard – and how well the author tells the story, we can query the basic assumption that all was well until a recent ‘fall’. Sir Richard Henriques, the retired high court judge who witheringly reviewed the failures of Operation Midland, is quoted as suggesting that there are “far too many ranks” in the Met, no fewer than five above the rank of chief superintendent.Harper quotes late on a story from an anonymous lord justice of appeal that a scammer at his door was impersonating police. Of Wayne Couzens, Harper recounts the Met’s embarrassment when it emerged that “an armed officer tasked with protecting politicians, dignitaries and VIPs should never have passed the Met’s supposedly tough vetting procedures.

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