Investigation will be first time EHRC has used its formal powers under equalities legislation against any police force
The Equality and Human Rights Commission announced on Monday how wide-ranging its inquiry would be and confirmed it would use its legal powers.
The commission said its investigation “will consider whether or not there was sex, race or sexual orientation discrimination or victimization of police service staff in their treatment under MPS [Met police service] procedures for dealing with complaints of discrimination”.
The commission said it was the first time it had used its formal powers under equalities legislation against any police force, and it is only the second time it has used this power against any organization.
It is embarrassing for the Met as it is still haunted by being labelled “institutionally racist” by the Stephen Lawrence inquiry 15 years ago and has since been trying to show it has done enough to stamp out discrimination in the ranks.
The EHRC decision comes after the Met was found by an employment tribunal in July to have racially and sexually discriminated against PC Carol Howard.
Earlier this year the tribunal found the Met removed evidence of racial and sexual discrimination from documents it submitted to the employment tribunal regarding its fairness at work (FAW) procedure.
Howard, 35, had been in the force for 10 years, serving as an armed member of the diplomatic protection group (DPG), and had previously been selected by the Met to appear in a newspaper feature before the London 2012 Olympics.
The tribunal found that the decision to remove the material damaging to the Met’s denial of discrimination against Howard was a policy – and not down to a rogue manager. The judgment says the Met had done it before in previous cases.
The Met has denied having a policy to delete discrimination allegations from FAW documentation.
The commission said it used its powers after suspecting the Met was unlawfully breaching discrimination laws.
The inquiry will cover the Met’s actions from January 2011 until the end of September 2014.
Mark Hammond, the chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “We have launched this investigation to help deliver a better and lawful process for handling staff claims of discrimination within the Met. We share their ambition that no member of staff should feel unfairly treated because of their gender, race or sexual orientation.”