The UK Independent Office for Police Conduct announced Thursday that Eight Metropolitan police officers (five active and three former) are being investigated for gross misconduct, in the latest step of the investigation into the police’s handling of a series of murders committed by Stephen Port between 2014 and 2015 against LGBTQIA+ people.
There has been a series of investigations into the handling of the Port case since the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) voluntarily referred concerns regarding their initial investigations to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (now the Independent Office for Police Conduct) in 2015. The original investigation report, published in 2020, concluded that “officers did not have a case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct,” but found areas of MPS practice that needed improvement. New evidence has since arisen, leading to the reopening of the investigation in 2022 to “fully consider the possibility of assumptions, stereotyping, unconscious bias, and homophobia by individual officers, regarding the lifestyle of young gay men and the impact this had on the way the MPS investigation was conducted.”
Stephen Port (the “Grindr killer”) drugged, sexually assaulted and murdered Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor. The MPS failed to link these deaths until the last victim’s body was found, despite similarities in the murders. The April 2023 investigation by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services found that:
The initial police response to the deaths of four young men… was wholly unacceptable. The MPS failed to carry out even the most basic inquiries and in only one case (the first, Anthony Walgate, conducted anything approaching a competent investigation. Furthermore, its interaction with the victims’ families wasn’t good enough. It was uncaring and, at times, virtually non-existent. The MPS treated each case in isolation and failed to find, or even look for, the obvious links between them… Had officers shown even a little more awareness, Stephen Port’s potential involvement would have become apparent very quickly.
The organization made 20 recommendations to help with what it called the MPS’ “calamitous litany of failures.”
The officers are being investigated for alleged breaches of police standards on their attitudes to equality and diversity, as well as their duties and integrity. This follows Baroness Louise Casey’s “rigorous, stark and unsparing” report from March, which alleged that the MPS is institutionally racist and sexist.