Police Registration Certificates

Meeting: 
PCC on 2012-10-25
Session date: 
October 25, 2012
Reference: 
2012/0055
Question By: 
Joanne McCartney
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
Craig Mackey, Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis

Question

I am going to move on now to police registration certificates. I have been contacted by the University of London Union and there have been press reports about the debacle that happened only a few weeks ago where I understand that students who are foreign nationals have to register with the police. Recently the category of students who have to register has been widely widened. I understand that the numbers are now higher. We have had reports that the MPS has struggled to cope with demand and that some of the information given by the police may have been confusing.

We have had examples of international students saying that they are going to be dealt with on a first-come-first-served basis at your one office, the Overseas Visitors Records Office. We have had students queuing up all day, and then still not being seen at the end of a long day's queuing and often in bad weather as well, and being very concerned that unless they register in time they could be committing offences and be subject to penalties. They felt humiliated by their treatment and look at the MPS as providing that humiliation treatment. Could you just briefly, because I am aware of the time we have, say what went wrong and what alternative arrangements you have put into place? Will it happen again in December when I understand the next batch of registrations will happen?

Answer

Answer for Police Registration Certificates

Answer for Police Registration Certificates

Answered By: 
Craig Mackey, Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Can I just go back to a point you made around all agents(?). For those that do not know the legal background to this - and I know this might sound a bit boring, but it is important - this is a 1972 piece of legislation that originally specified that people from a prescribed list of countries had to register with the police within a set period of time.

Originally, when this legislation first came in, it was somewhere like 180 countries. In the mid-1990s, this piece of legislation was reviewed and it came down to around 40-odd countries where students have to do it. The numbers have not increased this year in terms of the requirement of people to do it. There is anecdotal information that obviously some of the high profile cases around registration and status have meant that people have been saying, 'You have to get down to this office. You have to be registered straight away.' That is why we have seen that very quick spike in terms of numbers.

We have done a number of things. We are working with Universities UK. We have put more offices and staff into that unit. We have offered appointment times on a Saturday. We have offered block pre-registration to some of the universities and facilities. I think we have dealt with the stuff that has come this year. I absolutely understand, if you have been standing outside a building in Bow and literally been there all day and do not get in, we have let you down. You are frustrated and I can understand that.

We have also then, for the more medium to long term, started the debate with both Universities UK and the Home Office about the need for this piece of legislation. The reality is people register. It is not about their immigration status. That is dealt with somewhere else. We make very little use of that information, so it seems like it is one of these pieces of legislation that perhaps if we all sat around the table and looked at there might not be a need for it or we could potentially do it differently. That is what we have been working with the Home Office and others on now.

Joanne McCartney (Chair): The Mayor, in answer to me, has said he has written to the Home Secretary, suggesting that they could replace current police procedures in favour of the UKBA sponsorship management system where it is done by universities. Would that be an approach you would welcome?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Yes, and as I say, that is why the history It is a 1972 piece of legislation that has literally just kept going. We have details on a database that we hardly ever use or refer to. I do not think in this day and age that it is beyond us all to come up with a solution that works far better for the students and gives a better impression of London.

Joanne McCartney (Chair): Hopefully, by the next December deadline, as I understand.

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

Joanne McCartney (Chair): Lovely.

Andrew Morley (Interim Chief Executive, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime): Can I just add: that is our primary interest. Clearly, we are aware of this issue because of the publicity. We are assured about the short-term measures that the MPS has put in place but we are standing by to support the MPS in making any recommendations they may wish to about how the arrangements can be changed, indeed, if it is legislative because they do not add any value, or a process. We are on this.

Joanne McCartney (Chair): That is helpful.

Tony Arbour (AM): I am happy to have my printed question on this dealt with, please, in a written way. That relates to the declining use, if there has been a declining use, of the forensic services since the management has changed. If I could have that, please.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I would be more than happy to do that. I can answer it if you want me to.

Joanne McCartney (Chair): It is the time limit. If you are happy sitting there for a further little while, we can carry on too, but if you have somewhere to be then we can certainly do it in writing.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Shall I do it in writing?

Joanne McCartney (Chair): Yes, thank you. Jennette, are you happy to have your question answered in writing on this, as well?

Jennette Arnold (AM); Thank you.