12:12 PM December 8, 2021
An east London police chief defended the values of the Met during a speech to university graduates reflecting on Sarah Everard’s murder.
Hackney and Tower Hamlets borough commander Detective Chief Superintendent Marcus Barnett admitted trust in the Met Police had taken a hit in recent months but remained resolutely proud to be an officer.
Det Chief Supt Barnett’s remarks came during a passionate speech delivered as he received an honorary doctorate in criminology from the University of East London.
“Police officers put themselves in harm’s way every day,” he said.
“They are protectors and they are first to respond to a life in crisis. We are on hand every second of every day.”
Speaking at a recent winter graduation ceremony in Newham, the borough commander passionately defended his colleagues’ sense of public duty.
“There’s no turning away from the challenges, always acting, always stepping forward often when others might retreat.”
– Credit: Mike Brooke
However, he admitted policing is not “an exact science”, but a job made up of ordinary people – some of whom “let us down”.
In September, serving Met officer Wayne Couzens was jailed for life for the kidnap, rape and murder of Ms Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive from south London.
Det Chief Supt Barnett said: “Those horrendous events have rocked me and rocked many people in our organisation.
“And there’s no doubt that such events impact on the trust people have in us and we are clear that what happened was a massive diversion away from our values.”
Referring to values set out in 1829 by founder Sir Robert Peel, the borough commander added: “The police are the public and the public are the police.
“The role of policing is just one element of society and our community safety is in all of our interests.
“Arguably it has never been more important for communities to come together, to connect and be cohesive.”
During his speech, Det Chief Supt Barnett recounted a career in which he has tackled criminal drugs gangs, planned security for the 2012 Olympics and championed equality and diversity in the Met.
He added: “Being the (Central East) BCU Commander is the greatest of all my jobs – no doubt – and being back serving communities and leading the next generation of policing is a joy and where I want to be.”