This is an undated handout photo issued by Hertfordshire Police of serving Metropolitan Police officer David Carrick. Image Credit: Hertfordshire Police via AP

London: A serving London police officer has admitted conducting a series of attacks on women including 24 counts of rape, making him one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders in a campaign that ran for more than 17 years.

The Metropolitan Police apologised on Monday and said it should have spotted the pattern of abuse after David Carrick, 48, pleaded guilty to a total of 49 charges relating to 12 victims, including 24 counts of rape between 2003 and 2020.

London’s Metropolitan Police, which has been placed in “special measures” after it was hit by a series of scandals in the last year, said Carrick had abused his power as a police officer to commit degrading crimes.

“We have missed opportunities over time to identify a pattern of abusive behaviour,” Met Assistant Commissioner Barbara Gray told Sky News. “We’re truly sorry for the fact he continued to be a police officer.

“Our work to identify and rid the Met of corrupt officers is determined and it is focused and it will continue.” Commissioner Mark Rowley has been appointed as the head of London’s police force to clean it up, vowing to sack any officers who are corrupt, racist and who have broken the law.

An independent review of London’s Metropolitan Police said in October that “radical” reform was needed in relation to how the force deals with misconduct allegations faced by hundreds of its staff and officers.

The review was commissioned in 2021 after an officer was sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of Sarah Everard.