Reflecting on the Casey Review
The nation, particularly Londoners, will have read the Casey Review yesterday with a heavy heart. The findings reflect much of what we already know, sadly what we’ve known since the MacPherson report published in 1999. Issues of racism, misogyny and homophobia within the police cause harm, both for communities and for those within the service. They are toxic factors to mental health. This has to be a turning point.
The Metropolitan police has sought to hold individuals to account rather than the organisation as a whole, and there have been missed opportunities to deal with the depth of the institutional challenges. We can’t say this is a matter of a few bad apples, the Casey review is clear about this. All of these things together serve to undermine the trust people have in the police, especially those in communities that have been most severely affected.
This matters to us because we know that people with mental health problems are more likely to be victims of crime, more likely to feel that impact more acutely, and less likely to get the support they need. The impact of racism, misogyny, and homophobia cannot be understated, and the trauma can last a lifetime. That is why the attitudes and behaviour of the police are of crucial importance towards people experiencing mental health problems, especially during times of crisis as police have a role in the sectioning process under the Mental Health Act. We know that the demand for the police to be the first responders to people in mental health crisis has increased over the years, but keeping up with best practices and knowledge has been a challenge. We can see from this report more has to be done to increase knowledge and skills.
We know Black people are now nearly 5 times more likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act than white people. We also know that Black people are more likely to access mental health support through negative routes, via the police or the criminal justice system. Institutional racism still pervades much of our society and public institutions, and where people face misogyny and homophobia, these issues are compounded. It is time to face the truth of this to really see through the changes I know that society wants, what I know many police officers want too.
That’s why today we welcome the plain speaking of the Casey report which highlights deep seated institutional racism, homophobia and misogyny. We need a police service which all of us can trust. If the Metropolitan police is to truly police by consent, then it will need to centre the experiences of the marginalised communities it serves. The evidence submitted to the Casey review echo the stories we’ve heard from our beneficiaries and colleagues for years, as many of us work to change the status quo. We have seen huge change when the police and communities work side by side. It’s possible to do this at scale, but only if we all work on achieving true equity in everything that happens in people’s lives.
We know that there are no quick fixes, and that the deep-seated nature of the issues will take sustained engagement and commitment over the long term, but the time is now for the police to step into the fray, to truly embark on the journey towards equity. The nation is relying on it.
We recognise that there will be many within the police who will be shocked and saddened by today’s findings. In fact we know that more police officers are experiencing high levels of stress, low mood, anxiety and other challenges in their health and wellbeing and the number is growing (ref: Police Federation Pay and Morale report, 2023). With Baroness Casey's report showing that Black, Asian and ethnic minority officers and staff more likely to experience racism, discrimination and bullying, there needs to be a more robust system of support for the mental health of these employees and other groups experiencing discrimination. Members of the police service are not immune from the injustice of racism, misogyny and homophobia.
We know that by having a speaking out culture, listening to those who do take that leap and helping them access the protection and support they need is an essential element that underpins better workplace mental health.
By truly focusing on equity, experiences of those in the force and residents of Greater London would be hugely improved. There are no good arguments for not acting now. We know this work would revolutionise communities and the entire police force for the better.
Baroness Casey’s report will be upsetting for everyone but unless and until we acknowledge the scale of the challenge and its systemic nature then change can’t happen and the Metropolitan Police can’t begin to rebuild trust within the communities it serves. We urge the Metropolitan Police to immediately accept and act upon Baroness Casey’s recommendations.
We will continue to support those impacted by these experiences both in communities and within the police force, Mind will be part of the solution.
Mind is here to support anyone who needs help with their mental health. Signposting and support is available on Mind’s website for: