A searing account of corruption, racism and mismanagement inside Britain’s most famous police force, Broken Yard by Tom Harper is ‘the most authoritative critique of British policing in years’. Here, we ask Tom a couple of questions to give you a flavour of the book.
The title of your book is Broken Yard. Do you think the Met Police needs a system reboot or more structural hardware replacement?
It needs a total system reboot. Everything from training to promotion needs to be improved to reform a toxic culture that penalises success and celebrates failure. But the politicians also need to wake up and award the police far larger budgets that would allow the return of neighbourhood policing and help tackle organised crime, which is out of control.
Sir Mark Rowley is the new Met Police commissioner. Is he up to the job? Who would you have selected instead?
It is in all of our interests that Sir Mark Rowley makes a success of this difficult job and all right-thinking people should wish him well.
You have covered Scotland Yard for fifteen years. In that time, what has been the most shocking event you have reported on?
The Daniel Morgan murder, which involved the brutal death of a private investigator in 1987. It is rumoured Daniel was about to expose a cabal of corrupt Met Police officers in league with organised criminals. The unsolved murder festered for years until colliding with the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. This is all covered in great detail in the book.
The media is central to maintaining reputations. Has its colossal influence on public opinion destroyed any chance of reforming the image of the Met Police?
Scotland Yard still wrongly blames the media for its troubles around phone hacking and the Leveson Inquiry. And it used the fallout to target genuine whistleblowers in an attempt to criminalise public-interest, independent reporting on the police. Until the Met realises that the media is not the enemy, it will continue to struggle.
Broken Yard: The Fall of the Metropolitan Police is out on 4 October 2022.
“This book should be read by every police officer, every politician and everybody who cares about law and order in this country.”Peter Oborne
“Meticulous and passionate. Tom Harper has written the most authoritative critique of British policing in years.”Lord Macdonald QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions
“The police are there to look after us. But someone has to look closely at the police – and Tom Harper has done just that in this comprehensive overview. Some of it makes for difficult reading, for much has gone wrong in policing over recent years. But the book is also constructive and never loses sight of the importance of the role the police have in any well-functioning democracy.”Alan Rusbridger