Detective Inspector Lily Benbow introduces the Met’s Discrimination Investigation Unit (DIU).
We are a small team of specialist investigators who work within the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS).
Our role is to investigate or provide oversight into all discrimination, victimisation, bullying and harassment (DVBH) allegations for public complaints, conduct matters and matters arising from Employment Tribunals and the Grievance procedure in relation to police officers and police staff within the Metropolitan Police Service.
For example, if a police officer makes an allegation about a fellow officer being sexist, then we would investigate this. Equally we also investigate if a member of public makes a DVBH allegation about a police officer or police staff member. We also provide specialist support to localised Professional Standard Units who hold misconduct investigations in relation to DVBH allegations.
We are a fairly new unit, only launching a year ago.
The DIU was formed in response to a report published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in September 2016 which looked into how the Met managed internal complaints of discrimination.
Whilst the EHRC found no evidence that the Met had committed unlawful acts, they did find a widespread fear of victimisation existed among officers and staff.
A number of recommendations were made by the EHRC. The MPS devised an action plan in response to the recommendations and is committed to addressing the findings and recommendations, one of which included forming the DIU team.
We are based at Empress State Building in Earl’s Court. We are a fairly small team currently made up of 10 people. We are recruiting more officers so in time we hope to have a total of 20 investigators, three Sergeants and one Detective Inspector. Our senior managers consist of a Detective Chief Inspector and Superintendent from within the DPS. I joined the DIU in March this year because I knew I could contribute positively to the work of the team. With more than 26 years of policing experience I bring strong leadership, compassion and detective ability. The work is challenging but hugely rewarding. A typical day in the office includes speaking with complainants, obtaining witness accounts, report writing, liaising with our internal and external partners including staff associations, the grievance management team and the IPCC. All of the team so far have had specialist training in understanding DVBH allegations and we will continue to develop our expertise in these areas.
Since March, we have concluded three cases and provided support to some 209 live cases. This includes gross misconduct and misconduct allegations.
Real improvements have been made in how the Met deals with discrimination allegations. I feel very proud to be part of this commitment to make people more confident in reporting such matters.