Britain’s largest police force was on Monday facing fresh scrutiny about its vetting procedures after an officer admitted 24 counts of rape and a string of sexual assaults over nearly two decades.
David Carrick’s crimes — described by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office as “appalling” — is the most high-profile police case since a fellow officer kidnapped, raped and murdered a young woman in 2021.
Then, as now, background checks by the Metropolitan Police in London were found lacking, leaving it battling to regain dented public confidence.
Carrick, 48, appeared in court in London on Monday and pleaded guilty to four counts of rape, as well as false imprisonment and indecent assault against a 40-year-old woman in 2003.
Reporting restrictions were lifted on his admission at a previous hearing in December of 43 charges involving 11 other women, including 20 counts of rape, over a 16-year period to September 2020.
He will be sentenced over two days from February 6.
The Met, which polices a population of more than eight million people over 620 square miles (1,605 square kilometres) in the British capital, called Carrick a “prolific, serial sex offender”.
Met Commissioner Mark Rowley apologised to Carrick’s victims, saying he “abused women in the most disgusting manner” and went unpunished due to “systemic failures”.
“We have failed. And I’m sorry. He should not have been a police officer,” Rowley said in a statement.
The Met revealed that a thorough review of former soldier Carrick’s service and complaints record was conducted in October 2021, after he was first charged with rape.
That found he was already on police systems for a series of off-duty incidents before and after he joined the force.
Yet none of those complaints of rape, domestic violence and harassment had led to criminal sanctions or internal disciplinary proceedings.
The Met “failed in two respects”, Rowley admitted.
It “should have been more intrusive and joined the dots on this repeated misogyny over a couple of decades” and “should have been more determined to root out such a misogynist”, he said.
The police watchdog is now reviewing the Met’s handling of Carrick, while a wider probe is under way into other potential misconduct of other officers.
They include more than 1,600 cases of alleged sexual offences or domestic violence, the Met said.