Baroness Casey Review: Healing decades of harm

Published: Friday, March 24th, 2023

This is a blog written by our Campaigns and Communications Manager Meka Beresford.

This week Baroness Casey found the Metropolitan Police Service to be institutionally racist, homophobic, and misogynist in an independent review of the behaviour and internal culture of the service.

The Casey review identified institutional and systemic failings that have allowed discrimination to become further embedded deep into the culture of the service. The review builds on the findings by Sir William Macpherson in the 1999 Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, which first identified the Met as institutionally racist. 

The overt discrimination, mistreatment, and abuse of LGBTQ+, women, and Black, Asian, and ethnic minority staff within the Met, as well as the under-protection and over-policing of these communities that was identified by the review, means that confidence in policing has plummeted. 

‘Londoners who do not have confidence in the Met outnumber those who do, and these measures have been lower amongst Black Londoners for years. The Met has yet to free itself of institutional racism. Public consent is broken. The Met has become unanchored from the Peelian principle of policing by consent set out when it was established.’ Baroness Casey review. 

In the review, Baroness Casey wrote that the Met needed reform in order to secure the respect and approval of the public. This should start, she suggested, with a new process in which the Met should apologise to Londoners for past failings and rebuild consent, particularly with communities where consent is most at risk.

Could Restorative Justice help the process?

The Metropolitan Police Service has a lot of work to do to begin addressing the harm that has been caused. The evidence set out in the Casey review highlights deep-rooted harm, spanning decades, that will take a significant commitment to change if the Met hopes to begin rebuilding the confidence and consent of the public. This process should start with the Met accepting the findings and recommendations of the review in full.

Any process that hopes to repair the decades of harm must centre the voices of the people who have been affected.

Restorative Justice could assist in this process. Using restorative circles and conversations, communities and individuals who have experienced the Met’s institutional discrimination would be empowered to have their voices heard. This restorative work must be equity-informed and ensure that power dynamics are recognised and addressed, thereby enabling everyone to engage in Restorative Justice.

As well as implementing Restorative Justice as part of the process of rebuilding community trust and confidence in the justice system, people affected by crime may wish to engage in Restorative Justice over pursuing traditional justice routes.

The findings of the review certainly indicate a need for justice measures that challenge and avoid replicating existing harmful structures within justice systems as found by Baroness Casey.

The Restorative Justice sector faces a unique challenge as we move to expand the use of Restorative Justice. Ensuring that the voices of these communities and those with lived experience are at the centre of the work that needs to be done will be crucial in beginning to improve the experiences of those who have been discriminated against within the justice system.


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