The Metropolitan Police continues to stumble from one self-inflicted crisis to another, weakening its ability to fight genuine crime.
It is a force that for too long has been gripped by a dangerous cocktail of poor leadership, politically correct dogma, warped priorities and tactical incompetence.
Those flaws have been graphically illustrated by the appalling case of Ali Dizaei, the notoriously corrupt Iranian-born officer who was this week sent back to jail for a second time after his conviction for perverting the course of justice.
Only an organisation obsessed with the creed of diversity and lacking in moral integrity would have allowed a swaggering, criminal bully like Dizaei to rise up its hierarchy and gain a senior position.
He should have been drummed out long ago, not constantly rewarded with promotion.
But Dizaei is a symbol of the rot within the top ranks of the Met. Too many senior officers seem to have forgotten that their central duty is to protect the law-abiding British public.
Instead of taking tough decisions — like challenging Dizaei — they indulge in politicised manoeuvres designed to protect their own backs and further their own careers.
The high command of the Met inhabits a culture where cowardice is dressed up as pragmatism, where a talent for spouting jargon trumps determination to take on the criminals.
The biggest losers from this approach are not just ordinary decent British citizens, but also the constables out on the streets, often doing a heroic, selfless job only to be undermined by their selfish, careerist superiors.
It is no exaggeration to say that the Met frontline are lions led by vacillating donkeys.
As a former detective chief superintendent at the Met myself, I have been appalled by the Dizaei saga.
I was actually the borough commander in West London at the time when, in July 2008, he tried to frame an innocent Iraqi businessman, Waad al-Baghdadi, with whom he was engaged in a bitter feud over money. The incident ultimately led to two criminal trials and Dizaei’s conviction this week.
But from the moment Dizaei hauled Mr al-Baghdadi into Hammersmith police station on charges of assault, I had the severest doubts about his tale.
This was not just because of the unconvincing nature of his story that al-Baghdadi had attacked him, which turned out to be a pack of lies, but also because of Dizaei’s appalling record of dishonesty, corruption and abuse of office.
Like almost everyone else in the Met, I had always known that he was a wrong ’un.
On a superficial level, he could be charming and personable, but his easy manner barely disguised his dark side.
He was a figure of epic venality, ambition and ruthlessness, his entire career geared towards furthering his own interests, regardless of the legality or probity of his methods.
When he joined the Met as a superintendent in 1999, former colleagues in the Thames Valley Police, where he was an officer for more than a decade, warned us to beware, telling us of his enthusiasm for playing the race card to achieve his ends.
But in a climate of hysteria over accusations of ‘institutionalised racism’, the Met’s top brass were desperate to recruit more ethnic minority senior officers.
The warnings from Thames Valley Police were grimly fulfilled. Dizaei was a master at using fears about racism to thwart any challenge to his increasingly aggressive, self-serving conduct. The National Black Police Association, of which Dizaei was president, was his chosen instrument with which to bully and intimidate the Met’s hierarchy.
He became a law unto himself. The Met’s terror of taking any action against him made him feel even more invincible.
Even the Independent Police Complaints Commission, normally all too keen on enforcing the politically correct code, urged the Met to discipline Dizaei — but top commanders were too pusillanimous to do so. Most had prospered by avoiding tough decisions.
They were not going to risk all by taking on a formidable adversary who loved to smear his critics as racists.
Thanks to their lack of courage, he got away with behaviour that would have led to the sacking of any other Met employee.
So he gained a PhD with a thesis attacking the Met on racism, while in 2007 he wrote an autobiographical book called Not One Of Us, which contained severe criticism of the Met.
Yet instead of being sacked for gross disloyalty, he was promoted. Can you imagine any successful company that would behave in such a pathetic manner towards a senior member of staff making money out of trashing the firm’s reputation?
Fuelled by his invulnerability, Dizaei’s ego was legendary among the rank-and-file.
On one occasion he alleged that two constables had damaged his private car. On investigation, it turned out that the damage was inflicted by one of his many mistresses.
Any other officer behaving in that way would have been disciplined or sacked, especially because he had shown such a contemptible lack of respect towards the two constables.
But nothing happened to Dizaei, protected as he was by the shield of spurious anti-racism. On another occasion, he drove into the station and parked so carelessly that he blocked the exit of the emergency response vehicles.
Almost immediately, the emergency vehicle was needed.
‘Can you move your car?’ called out the officers, needing to rush to the scene of the incident. ‘You move it,’ replied Dizaei, throwing them the keys and marching brazenly inside.
That was the arrogance of the man. He had no sense of public service, not a shred of decency. He was a brute in uniform, who once threatened to kill the mother of one of his mistresses ‘like a dog’.
But Dizaei was clever enough to exploit the political pressures on the Met for more than a decade.
And, of course, political correctness was to blame for the pusillanimous way the rampaging gangs of looters and vandals — many from ethnic minorities — were dealt with during the riots last summer.
Paralysed by political correctness and accusations of racism, terrified of being accountable for controversial decisions over public order, the Met’s senior officers allowed the mob to control the streets for five days before launching a crackdown.
This is not the police force that the public deserves.
The one great hope is that the Met has a new Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, who made his name fighting crime on Liverpool’s tough streets.
Hogan-Howe’s virtues are that he does not crave adulation from the politicians, always a sign of good judgment, and that he has real experience of operational requirements.
Far too many senior officers in the Met have reached the top without such a background. In fact, the avoidance of tough, frontline responsibilities is often the hallmark of a modern successful career in the Met.
The arrival of Hogan-Howe, combined with the welcome downfall of Ali Dizaei, may put an end to this pattern.
And, finally, policing will be governed by the needs of the public instead of politics.