Targets (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
October 25, 2012
Question By: 
Len Duvall OBE
Labour Group
Asked Of: 


The last MOPAC Challenge in October identified the issues around a very rapid increase in volume of theft from the person in the boroughs. Given the period of time, and it was an annual comparison with the previous year, there has been an explanation, but have you had a chance to drill deeper into why this has occurred in that period of time?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Targets (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Targets (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): No, I have not per se. We have seen with theft from person work around both new technologies, so smart phones, pieces of equipment, around that. We also - I am trying to remember when it happened - April last year, changed the categories to make sure that robbery and theft from person, there was some distance between them. The Metropolitan Police Service still had a category that no one else used in the middle, so we have a clearer feel of what is going on, what a robber is and what are theft from persons. A whole range of work going on around particular boroughs, so things like some of the work where we know people will come into clubs and surf handbags, they will go into restaurants and surf bags and tables to steal stuff, and the work that goes on, particularly around some of the high-profile crime areas around tubes and those sorts of things where people come out. There is a whole range of activity going on in relation to it. The monthly crime-fighters reports are looking at theft from person in detail at every borough level.

Len Duvall (AM): It is just that we checked here, in terms of one of the answers given, was a new type of phone being out. These rises are across London, particularly in the Olympic boroughs, at the time of the Olympic boroughs, we were not exactly denuded of police responses, high visibility which would normally make people think twice about these crimes. We have young people out of school, they are not in school, so most of the thefts of this nature would have been from young people during school time, after school, with their phones. We are now moving into the autumn period, which this type of crime increases up to the period of Halloween and November in some ways.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Yes, it does, but then it is starts to go down again. Usually theft from the person, because one of the reasons that this crime is particularly prevalent, it relies on lots of people often in a public space. Some of the ones I have described, which we have seen on some of the premises along here, along the side of the river, where people will come into a premises and literally walk through it and go out with three or four iPhones, a laptop and an iPad.

Len Duvall (AM): But some of the increases we are seeing -- look Westminster, we will not talk about percentage share, but this is 2,391 Westminster, 1,035 in Islington/Camden. OK, that's your high mass people, and all the rest of it. But look, Bexley 47; that's quite a high figure for Bexley, an outer-London borough. Richmond upon Thames, god knows what they are doing over there; Tony having too many parties, there are 70. Those types of figures, what is the trend and what do we propose to do now then?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): The trend around theft from person over the summer has been upwards and each

Len Duvall (AM): Can I just say, at a time when we are telling people crime is going down.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): It is overall.

Len Duvall (AM): It is overall. In terms of these issues and the ones that you say that matter to people, this must matter to people.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I think there is a danger with crime stats, when we all throw around numbers. One of my frustrations over many years has been, every one of these numbers is a victim, it is someone who has lost something, and that cannot be right. Therefore, one is too many for me. Every one of the boroughs has action plans about areas of crime, where they are in exception. They are doing work around what is the particular problem profile. They will look, where is the area on their borough, what are the issues around it, what are the trends, and then the whole range of tactics about where you can intervene with it, from high-profile policing to targeting the people who are handling the stolen goods at the end of the day, or people who are reprogramming phones or whatever the issue is that is being stolen.

Len Duvall (AM): But do you not accept on high-profile policing, I mean the Olympic boroughs stand out like a sore thumb on this at that period of time. Even if we suggested these were acting in areas with high numbers of crowds, if I look at Greenwich, my own borough, in terms of where that might have occurred, the deterrents are not working.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I do not know about deterrents do not work, because if you

Len Duvall (AM): Sorry, opposing that, I am not saying it does not, but it is clearly not working in some of these areas. In the Olympic boroughs where, let us face it, we never just had MPS deployment, we had deployment of outside of people, right. So let us go back to your original premise, these are crimes that are by and large occurring, the majority, where there is mass numbers of people. OK, so in Newham 597, it was not exactly denuded of police in Newham. Right, in Tower Hamlets, another Olympic borough, 584. In Waltham Forest, the fringe of the Olympics, 242. In Greenwich, not denuded of police resources, I was falling over them, and rightly so, because we wanted to protect people from other crimes, 198. So numbers of police officers, which I think is important because of capacity issues, did not seem to work on this particular crime at that particular time.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): No, they did not.

Len Duvall (AM): So, right, what lesson can we learn from that?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Some of it will be everything from where were officers directed and how were they deployed, through to the range of tactics we use. For instance, do we have enough intelligence around theft from person and where the stuff is going; are there tactics with plain-clothes officers and other specialist targeting squads that we can use differently. If you look at the current property portfolio, theft from the person sticks out as the outlier.

Len Duvall (AM): OK, a question to MOPAC, you said earlier on there was a range of issues, and we should be grateful that MOPAC highlighted these issues and it was probably right for the Mayor to raise these questions around performance at this particular time. You mentioned about the bilateral meetings, are these the weekly bilateral meetings?

Andrew Morley (Interim Chief Executive, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime): These are the monthly bilateral meetings. The terms of reference has been shared with you.

Len Duvall (AM): Oh fine, and you mentioned that minutes are taken and the issue of transparency passed your lips. Are those minutes going to be put on a website about the issues?

Andrew Morley (Interim Chief Executive, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime): Yes, there will be a note of meeting that will be placed on the website. I think that is right, Chair, there is a terms of reference with the

Joanne McCartney (Chair): It is not on the website yet, we have looked, we couldn't find it anywhere.

Andrew Morley (Interim Chief Executive, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime): No, it is not on the website yet; these are the arrangements that are just being introduced, but that is absolutely the intention. I think there is a terms of reference that was shared with this Committee, which is quite detailed in terms of content and what the arrangements are.

Len Duvall (AM): It is more about the publication of the minutes and the contents of those meetings. Can you tell us, then, what plans do MOPAC have of following up this work or will it just return to it in a year's time?

Andrew Morley (Interim Chief Executive, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime): No, absolutely not, no, there will be two processes for following these up. The primary interface with the Metropolitan Police Service is through those bilateral meetings with the Commissioner, so one would anticipate the way it would work is that the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime would ask the questions that you were asking. In fact if I had closed my eyes you could have been the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, the same sort of questions will be asked. The Commissioner would then undertake to look into that and one would expect that to be reported back at the next bilateral meeting. If there was still a concern about it, or it was felt that it needed greater scrutiny, there are a number of options available, not least the MOPAC Challenge, which might mean actually this is something we are going to focus on at MOPAC Challenge. I think that would be particularly true if it was something that involved broader partners in terms of the response, so that would be an opportunity to do that in public.

Of course, within that, we as officers may very well be discharged to do some analysis to support all that activity to make sure the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime was informed to ask intelligent questions,

Len Duvall (AM): OK, and just for a last question, Chair, for our milestone, when would you expect this to start tipping off seasonally in terms of from your experience?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Seasonally, probably about November.

Len Duvall (AM): From November, so

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Sorry to cut across you, dark nights will see a move around sheds, premises, those sorts of things again, and probably around November that trend should start, if it is following its seasonal average. The worry with that increase at the moment is that might not be a seasonal blip and that is why the work is ongoing around it.

Len Duvall (AM): All right, and so we should see it drop off anyway, but we should see it further drop off when we come back to look at these figures because of the plans that you have put in place, or some of the activities that you have put in place?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Yes, and, if they do not, we have to up the plans again. But this on a monthly basis, with territorial policing, with the crime-fighters' meeting they run, when there are boroughs that are in exception, when boroughs get called in for particular focus around crimes, these are exactly the sort of areas they are looking at. It is getting into the detail of why, what is going on underneath it, what can we do both pan-London, so what can we do with specialist assets from across London, and what can we do at a local level? Is it as simple as there is a new place to get rid of goods in that particular borough or that part of the borough? It really is getting into that level of detail.

Len Duvall (AM): OK, thank you.