Sanction detection rate

MQT on 2013-05-22
Session date: 
May 22, 2013
Question By: 
Tony Arbour
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Why is London's sanction detection rate so much lower than the national sanction detection rate?


Answer for Sanction detection rate

Answer for Sanction detection rate

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes. Tony, thank you very much. Your question is a good one because the sanction detection rate in London is frankly lower than other parts of the country and it is too low. There are particular reasons obviously that we can give for that problem. There are targets now to increase sanction detection rates through all the seven key MOPAC crimes. The only point I would make in mitigation - and I think it is a most important point - is that in spite of this, crime continues to fall and has fallen very substantially in the last four or five years. Just in the last year alone it has gone down by about 5.5% of total notifiable offences. That is a tribute to the work of the Metropolitan Police Service.

Tony Arbour (AM): Thank you for that. I would not want to belittle the police in reducing the number of crimes, but I should draw your attention to the fact that that is the number of reported crimes. It may well be that the victims of crime, knowing that the chances of their crime being solved and the criminals being brought to justice is so small, will say, 'What is the point in me reporting this crime?' Moreover, the entire situation is exacerbated by the fact that in this figure for sanction detections, one quarter of all of those are dealt with simply by way of caution. Under those circumstances, I suppose, it is no surprise that there is the lowest rate of victim satisfaction in the Metropolitan Police Service, far lower than elsewhere in the country. This leads to demoralisation, I would suggest to you, amongst those people who have crimes committed against them and even against the police who have taken the trouble to bring people to justice and are simply dismissed in this way.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes. You have campaigned consistently, Tony, against cautions and against a general culture of decriminalising crime or however you want to put it. You are completely right. The number of cautions since I have been around has come down consistently and significantly over 2008-2012. There has been a 23% reduction in the number of cautions issued. I hear what you say about maybe the police simply are not reporting all this. I look also at the figures for fear of crime and confidence and those also show considerable improvements. So I have to say I do not dismiss the data that the Metropolitan Police Service is providing. It is not just happening in London. Let us be clear, crime is falling. Throughout the country and indeed throughout much of the Western world crime is coming down, though not everywhere. It is striking that London is doing considerably better than some other directly comparable cities. There are many causes for this but you cannot rule out and you should never minimise the results of good, strong neighbourhood policing and a visible presence by the Metropolitan Police Service. I think it does pay off and it has been paying off.

Tony Arbour (AM): I do not resile from any of that, but I would simply say to you that you are making the mistake which is often made in discussing this matter in discussing the total number of crimes, total number of cautions, total number of sanctions. If you look at it on a percentage basis, the figure I have given you should really give you pause for thought. Of this depressingly low level of detections, one quarter of those is only dealt with by way of caution.

I wonder if I could go off on a related tack to this. The new Commissioner [of the Police of the Metropolis, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe] has made great play of the fact that victims of crime are offered a visit by a police officer who will come around and will discuss with them the way their crime is being dealt with if a person wants that. There are small county constabularies in this country (and this is a matter I have raised with you before) using what is called Track My Crime where what happens is you report a crime as a victim, you are given your crime number and you can tap into the constabulary's database and find out what progress is going on. One of the things which most annoys people is they report a crime and the thing has gone into some sort of abyss.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, nothing happens and then someone rings up and says it has been solved two years later.

Tony Arbour (AM): I would suggest to you that one way in which you can perhaps raise people's confidence in the fact that the police are actually doing something is to tap into this system. It might even have the merit in addition of being cheaper than sending a policeman around to the house. You just tap into the thing and it would go on. I would ask you please to lean on your office, on Mr Greenhalgh [Stephen, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime] on this one and say that this is a solution which should be zeroed on. It would do you a lot of good but, more importantly, it would do the victims of crime a lot of good.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Your labours have not been in vain. Thank you for what you have said because Track My Crime is indeed being taken up by MOPAC. We are actively looking at how to implement it and give Londoners exactly that confidence and opportunity to see what is happening.

Tony Arbour (AM): We heard it here first.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): You heard it here first.