Met chief: Police must not show support for causes while on duty

Police officers at the Pride in London Parade (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Archive)
Police officers at the Pride in London Parade (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Archive)

Sir Mark Rowley has declared that he is “narrow minded” on police displaying support for popular causes while on duty in a new edict to his officers.

The Met Commissioner said that displaying badges or using other ways to show support risked officers giving the impression that their force was publicly endorsing it too.

He added that it was better for officers to remain impartial and that there were “very few causes” for which policing should show support. “Wearing a poppy in the autumn is perfectly proper but there is not a lot that we should align to because the danger is that once you say ‘we are going to align ourselves to a cause because 90 per cent of the population support it’, what about the 10 per cent?,” Sir Mark told the Daily Telegraph.

“Once you start having environmental and other subjects there are lots of people in the organisation who will personally support those causes and that is okay, but the Metropolitan Police explicitly supporting them is quite tricky. I’m fairly narrow minded on this. There are very few causes policing should be attached to.”

Sir Mark emphasised that despite his stance, the Remembrance Day poppy, Help for Heroes wristbands and the police memorial badge remained acceptable.

He also insisted that officers “engaging with communities to understand what worries them is not woke” in a reflection of his attempt to ensure that the Met, which was condemned earlier this year by Baroness Casey as institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic, improved its ability to understand and represent all Londoners.

But he added: “Starting to align yourself to causes is not something policing should be doing.” Sir Mark’s latest comments follow his decision earlier this year to ban his officers from wearing the thin blue line badge created in memory of officers who have died while on duty.

He said then that he was “cautious” about officers “showing allegiance to any cause” and that officers could be wearing “hundreds of badges” if he did not take a firm stance.

The Commissioner said his stance on the thin blue line badge was because the symbol had been adopted in the US by some “hard-Right groups”, showing how “contentious” symbols could become.

Sir Mark’s comments were said to signal that he would be less tolerant than his predecessor, Dame Cressida Dick, under whom Scotland Yard said it was a matter for individual officers if they wanted to take the knee.

They come amid continuing pressure on police to improve their performance on crime fighting and increasing political debate on law and order with both the Tories and Labour expecting it to be an important general election issue.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council has announced that it was working with the Home Office on new laws to ban the sale of devices used to steal keyless cars. The possession of signal jammers and keyless repeaters that “have no legitimate purpose” would become illegal.