LONDON (Reuters) – Eight London police officers are being investigated for gross misconduct over their handling of a serial killer case, the police complaints watchdog said on Thursday, after a separate review highlighted the force’s failings in the case.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) began a reinvestigation last year into how the case of Stephen Port, who was jailed for life for the murder of four men he met on dating sites between 2014 and 2015, was originally handled after receiving fresh evidence.
The eight officers are being investigated over possible breaches of police professional standards, the IOPC said.
A review by another police watchdog had said earlier this year that London’s Metropolitan Police had failed to recognise that the deaths in the case were connected until too late, despite obvious similarities.
“We recognise it has taken some time to reach this stage, but these are complex matters, involving multiple officers and four investigations into unexplained deaths and then the subsequent murder investigation into Port,” IOPC Regional Director Steve Noonan said.
The case is the latest embarrassment for London’s Metropolitan Police after an independent review by welfare expert Louise Casey concluded in March that the force was institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic.
Its chief Mark Rowley has vowed to clean up the force and regain public trust.
“The deaths of these four young men is a tragedy and we are deeply sorry there were failings in our police response,” Commander Jon Savell said in a statement.
“The whole of the Met is committed to improving our investigations, our relationships and the trust people have in us to keep them safe.”
(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; editing by Michael Holden)