'Toxic leader' | Met Police's HR chief under fire amid fallout from scathing force review

Met Police's HR chief under fire amid fallout from scathing force review

The Metropolitan Police’s HR chief has come under fire as the fallout from the controversial Casey Review continues.

But the Met’s most senior officer Mark Rowley has rushed to support the force’s Chief People Officer Clare Davies, who this week has been described as a “toxic leader” who is “out of her depth”.

An independent report, released earlier this month (March 2023), found the capital's police ranks to be institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic and unable to police itself.

The Baroness Casey Review was commissioned in 2021 by then-head of the force Cressida Dick, after serving officer Wayne Couzens was sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of Sarah Everard, a shocking case that put a spotlight on the force's broader culture.

The report found evidence of “widespread bullying, discrimination, institutional homophobia, misogyny and racism” within the force, also adding that "women and children do not get the protection and support they deserve".

Leading Through Change: Measuring the Impact of Your Leadership

Leading Through Change: Measuring the Impact of Your Leadership

Leadership is no longer confined to a top-down approach where authority alone defines success.

Effective leaders must excel in a variety of roles and adapt to diverse situations. They must be agile, capable of addressing immediate issues, and guiding their teams through uncharted territory, all while shaping the organisation's culture and fostering innovation.

Download this guide to equip yourself with the knowledge and skills to make a meaningful difference to your organisation and workforce.

You will learn:

  • The need to perform and transform 

  • The 4 levels of leadership impact

  • The key framework for greater leadership impact

Show more
Show less

Women in the force were reluctant to speak out for fear of ramifications for their career, the report said, with misogynistic comments often passed off as "banter".

In one example a gay, female officer was discouraged from making a formal complaint after a male colleague told her his "balls were cold" and requested she "warm them up".

Other instances cited included a Sikh officer having his beard cut because an officer thought it was funny, and bacon being left inside the boots of a Muslim officer.

The review said the biggest barrier was the Met's culture of defensiveness and denial about the scale of its problems.

Met Commissioner Mark Rowley, Britain's most senior police officer, told reporters: "We've let Londoners down and we've let our own frontline down ... I'm deeply sorry."

"(The report) generates a whole series of emotions: anger, frustration, embarrassment ... But most of all, it generates resolve," he added, saying the force's professional standards department had been "stepped up."

HR leader under the microscope

Naturally, the police force’s head of HR has come under scrutiny following the report’s publication.

Clare Davies OBE was only appointed as Chief People and Resources Officer in September 2022, but has already been described by insiders as a “toxic leader” who is “hopelessly out of her depth”.

The whistle blowers, who spoke anonymously to The Telegraph, said that despite her relatively recent instalment as CPO, they feel Davies should face some responsibility for the Met's current predicaments.

From our content partner

But in an interview with Good Morning Britain this week, Rowley stepped up to defend Davies, calling her “a valued member of our senior leadership team” who had his full

“We have accepted the findings of Baroness Casey’s report. We do so collectively. Any suggestion that responsibility rests with a single individual is both untrue and deeply unfair,” said Rowley.

"Our senior leaders bring experience, diversity and energy to the challenges that lie ahead of us. They are united in their determination to lead, to set our frontline up for success and to play their part in delivering the police service Londoners deserve."

But one source told The Telegraph: "She is a toxic senior leader. There are quite a few talented people who would be interested in signing up to help the commissioner with the turnaround of the Met but refuse to join because they’d have to work with her".

You are currently previewing this article.

This is the last preview available to you for 30 days.

To access more news, features, columns and opinions every day, create a free myGrapevine account.