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The independent London newspaper

Watchdog probes top Westminster police team

Allegations include violence, bullying, drug use, misogyny and racism

03 May, 2019 — By Tom Foot

The West End Zone Impact Team unit was was launched by then-mayor Boris Johnson in 2014

A CORRUPTION inquiry has been launched amid allegations of racism, steroid abuse and violence towards women by some Westminster police officers.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) says it is looking at a tranche of mobile phone messages between officers in a specialist “impact team” at Charing Cross and West End ­Central police stations.

The West End Zone Impact Team unit, which was launched by then-mayor Boris Johnson in 2014 but has since been disbanded, was tasked with policing pubs, clubs and drug dealing across the West End.

The IOPC is following up on a probe launched last April into claims an officer had sex with a vulnerable woman in a room at Charing Cross police station.

It says the scope of the inquiry “has now widened considerably” after analysis of mobile phones seized during the investigation.

Up to 11 officers are now facing disciplinary proceedings over further serious allegations.

They include:

• Bullying and inappropriate behaviour towards other officers, including sending threatening and malicious messages.

• Violence towards women and taking advantage of vulnerable people.

• Use of controlled substances including steroids and the potential behavioural impact of taking these substances.

• Perverting the course of justice by deleting messages relevant to a criminal investigation.

• Racist, misogynistic and other discriminatory language and behaviour.

• Failing to report wrongdoing.

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: “These are very serious allega­tions and it is vital for public confidence that these are independently investigated. We are committed to using our enforcement powers to root out officers whose conduct undermines the public’s confidence in policing and who should not be wearing the uniform.

“There is no indication this is part of any wider teams within the station but our overarching report will consider the wider culture and team.

“We would also like to hear from other officers at Charing Cross station, or the wider public, who may be able to provide valuable information to our investigation.”

The new probe is investigating 10 officers – eight constables and two sergeants – who were based at Charing Cross and West End Central police stations. The allegations do not apply to all 11 officers.

The IOPC says it has carried out two searches under warrant for perverting the course of justice and seized electronic devices.

Drugs testing has also been carried out by the Metropolitan Police Service.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Independent Office for Police Conduct on MPSwitnessinbox @policeconduct.gov.uk or by phone on 0800 029 4686.

Unit was set up after explosion of drug dealing and violent crime

FORMER Mayor of London Boris Johnson launched the West End Impact Zone unit in July 2014.

The new unit – which saw 100 extra officers stationed in Leicester Square and Piccadilly – was set up after an explosion of aggressive drug dealing and violent crime.

Mr Johnson said: “In learning from New York, the Met Police are going to make the West End even safer for all those who work and visit this landmark destination.”

However, a packed public meeting in St Anne’s later heard complaints from residents and politicians that Soho was being overlooked. Former Soho Cllr Paul Church told the meeting: “We the taxpayers are paying for police to stand around Leicester Square drinking coffee while people are shooting up in our doorways in Soho.

“And that, in my book, is entirely wrong.”

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