Operation Terminus

Meeting: 
PCC on 2012-10-25
Session date: 
October 25, 2012
Reference: 
2012/0052
Question By: 
Len Duvall OBE
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
Andrew Morley, Interim Chief Executive, MOPAC

Question

Operation Terminus, I think if we can begin with MOPAC, I think you have had representations, the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London has written to the Mayor around those issues. Do we happen to know what the Mayor's response to the letter from this group is?

Answer

Answer for Operation Terminus

Answer for Operation Terminus

Answered By: 
Andrew Morley, Interim Chief Executive, MOPAC

Andrew Morley (Interim Chief Executive, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime): I was not aware of that letter, I will check and we will come back to you on that point.

Len Duvall (AM): OK, well I think they have written to him, let me just clarify it. They probably have written to him as Mayor of London and that might well be one of the issues around it, but it is about policing operations. OK, if you could share that response for this Committee that would be useful.

If I can now turn to the Deputy Commissioner, obviously a growth issue, the issue is we are told that this is going to be targeted at criminal-led. Can you give me an assurance then that we are not going to be dealing with the overstayers then, that is a different arrangement and a completely separate arrangement because I am not sure if overstayers is a criminal activity or not. Can you give that assurance?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Terminus, where we are at the moment is only taking place in the custody units, so this is around how we deal with offenders who happen to be foreign nationals. It is fair to say in the past it has been a rather cottage industry, i.e. if you arrive at a custody unit and people know their way around the processes and know how to access various national and international databases, then things get checked and get done. What this has done is try to bring that into a scale where it is absolutely industrialised. So someone arrives in a custody unit and we do all the proper checks that the communities would expect. But this is around --

Len Duvall (AM): Forgive me, we are basing our work on what the MPS circulated, which was not about the custody focus of Terminus but the establishment of dedicated hit teams, if I can call them that, my words, probably hit teams to go out into the community, working with the UK Border Agency (UKBA), and picking these people off the streets. That is the flavour, and that is what the Integrated Advisory Groups (IAG) have been consulted with and those issues..That is exactly what the MPS put out in its material, dedicated teams established in boroughs, some would say at a time when my safer neighbourhood teams are not fully complemented. We can manage to find resources to establish these teams to go out into communities and take these criminals off the streets.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): The teams, MPS officers and UKBA officers, are working through custody suites, it is around identifying I do not know the briefing you are referring to, but dedicated police officers and UKBA staff have been identified and trained, embedded in MPS custody suites across London, and this is around working for those high-risk people, so sex offenders, gang members, gun crime, it is those high-risk people, looking at, is there another potential way of dealing with them when they arrive in the custody unit? It is not at this stage

Len Duvall (AM): It is just in terms of normal people that we pick up in our day-to-day activities, if they happen to be foreign nationals then they are dealt with in process terms in the custody suites. Do you not think, on the consultation -- what was the reason for the constrained consultation that occurred in terms of establishing this piece of work, because it has set a number of hares running? I have mentioned, in terms of maybe a misconception that I have, would that not have been resolved by some proper consultation? I understand this went through an IAG group, we have tried to establish who was in attendance, and we cannot get that information. My office tried to do that when this story first arose. Who, when and where was the consultation done, and why were certain other groups almost excluded from that discussion?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I do not know why groups were excluded. Having seen the tone of the letter, and the things coming out if it, I think your point is well made about whether we could have been wider in the consultation and more involving, because clearly it has created this misconception that somehow even the most minor crime will be picked up around these sorts of things. That is not the intention of this piece of work. I was not aware you do not have the details of who was consulted, IAGs, I am more than happy to take that one away and get you those details.

Len Duvall (AM): OK, so you can assure us it is more about training of existing officers rather than new officers being placed into the custody suite?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): There are new officers but they have come from our central commands. They have come from some of the work we are doing around serious and organised crime, because the scale of the challenge - and this is one of these issues that we are immensely conscious of the community sensitivities around, we are trying to be conscious - but we have a scale of a challenge around foreign nationals going through our custody units, if we look at about 18,000 people going through the custody units in the first quarter of this year who were foreign nationals. Now I think the public would expect, in the way if you or I are unfortunate enough to go through the custody units, that we can check national DNA database, we can check your fingerprints, we know who you are, we can probably confirm where you live so when we bail you, you know there is a fighting chance you might come back. This is about, as I say, industrialising that process around foreign nationals. Where it raises issues about why that person is in the country, it then, particularly around serious and harmful people, does raise a number of other opportunities. However, I think the point you make, we have probably not explained that well enough.

Len Duvall (AM): OK, right. In terms of some act that you have been picked up, are you going to undertake an exercise within the community? Look, on all these numbers, and I am very the police are always telling me to be very careful about percentages and numbers used. Yes, a third of all our arrests may be foreign nationals, but a third of London's residents are foreign nationals, so, surprise, surprise, but it can be misconstrued. However, for me on the numbers game, it is like all criminality, it is the few causing the crimes, including the most violent crimes, and actually the majority of people, whether they are foreign nationals or UK residents, are law-abiding citizens.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Absolutely.

Len Duvall (AM): Are we going to do an exercise in terms of reassurance among some of those migrant communities and foreign nationals who we want to come forward because crimes, usually these foreign nationals will do crimes in their own communities, who we need them to come forward, to give them confidence that when they come forward they are not going to be persecuted by the UK Border Agency? Because criminality and detecting criminality must be a higher priority than about someone's status and issues.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I absolutely agree with that. We are doing a community impact assessment on a weekly basis to tell us what is happening across the boroughs, so we are doing that work. There is a dedicated team under Mr [Mark] Rowley, Assistant Commissioner, and the feedback around the work going on in boroughs I will absolutely take back to make sure that is happening.

Len Duvall (AM): Will you share that if you have done an equality impact assessment, I think this is one of the calls from one of the groups saying, 'if you had done that, you might have resolved some issues or some other issues may have come to light.' Has that been undertaken by the way?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I genuinely do not know the answer to that; it is not in my brief, I would not want to guess.

Len Duvall (AM): Could you

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I will give you a written answer to that.

Len Duvall (AM): Now let us go back to MOPAC then. We have a letter to the Mayor, is this on your radar? What is the I dare not ask what the views of the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime are, because he might not tell me, but in a sense what is MOPAC's issue on this and in relation to this piece of work?

Andrew Morley (Interim Chief Executive, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime): We are aware of the operation. We understand, or I certainly understand that it is a targeted operation in terms of people who have offended. We obviously are concerned with any police activity that impacts on public confidence, so therefore would want to keep a sort of watching brief around that. I do not think it has come up as part of any discussion with the Commissioner as part of the formal engagements, but it is certainly something, on the back of your question, with the response that the MPS provided, I think it is something that the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime would want to have a look at to satisfy himself around public confidence and the impact on public confidence issues. I think it is helpful that you have raised it because it will allow us to satisfy ourselves on that point as well.

Len Duvall (AM): Just on new operational issues and new pilots in some ways, because this had been a pilot in the five boroughs, is there some mechanism between yourselves and MOPAC to list new projects that have been undertaken on an operational basis, either as a pilot basis or that you are instituting that change? Is there a sort of clearing house between that, or is it as and when?

Andrew Morley (Interim Chief Executive, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime): I am not aware of there being one currently. I think it is a helpful suggestion for us to understand what is being tested, what the evaluation is, what is that teaching us, and how that is informing operational practice going forward. I am sure all of that happens, but I think it happens in terms of the MPS. It probably is helpful for us to be sighted on that, so I think that is something we will take away and have a look at.

Len Duvall (AM): OK, and if you can do that, then we would be very happy to receive information about that so it would help us in terms of understanding some of those issues.

Now, going back, can I just raise an issue about transparency and issues of consultation and IAGs and issues? I think they have a very important role in policing and sometimes in operational policing, but there is a tendency for the police to hide behind this initial consultation rather than be open and transparent, and when you start asking questions of who. So, will you go back and look at the way that you are dealing with, or the use of IAGs, in terms of I mean it is not endorsements - well it almost is an endorsement the way the MPS use it - it is more like it should be a sounding board, it should not be an endorsement. If you are professional advice, you do not need somebody to endorse it, it is about a sounding board, about overcoming some of the problems. I certainly would like to hear about whether there were other problems raised at those initial meetings following the pilots, as I am raising now, and shared by other Members of this Committee - probably from all parties - about the implementation of this. Not what you are trying to achieve, it is the implementation of it, it sends a different signal, and sends hares running, as you said earlier on. Can you look at how those groups are being used by the Metropolitan Police Service in terms of some of these projects?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I am more than happy to.

Len Duvall (AM): Thank you.