Violent Crime in London (Supplementary) [4]

Session date: 
December 9, 2014
Question By: 
Joanne McCartney
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) & Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis)


I want to come back to the issue of the rate of violent crime and I heard and I have asked questions of the Mayor, I think the last three Mayor’s questions, about what is driving this increase.  I would just like to comment on something Andrew Boff [AM] said about domestic violence, undoubtedly part of that is the increase in recorded domestic violence, however I am hearing from my boroughs it is about an increase in reporting, however also about an increase.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  About actual domestic violence, yes.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Therefore I was wondering if either the MPS or perhaps the Mayor, in your group you have that look at violence against women and girls, could do some work to try to get to the bottom of this.  I know it is a difficult topic, however would you commit to doing that?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Violent Crime in London (Supplementary) [4]

Answer for Violent Crime in London (Supplementary) [4]

Answered By: 
Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) & Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis)

):  I think we should and I think we should look at that through the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy and we should be talking to all the rape crisis centres, all the organisations across London, that are taking in women and girls and hearing their stories.  I have already said this; it is not a good enough reason just to say that there is more reporting of it.  That does not mean that we can ignore it.  It could be that it also reflects some social changes that are going on, some phenomenon that we need to understand better, and that is not showing up in other crime types, and that is --


Joanne McCartney AM:  Therefore can I say that is a commitment from you that you will get that work done?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I certainly think we should because I have now heard from several people that they are suspicious about this glib assertion that it is just reporting.  I think we need to dig deeper into that and see what is really going on.


Joanne McCartney AM:  The other thing I want to ask the Commissioner is that Assistant Commissioner Helen King gave us a very good explanation, and one you have repeated today, about the increase, about a third of it was increase in domestic violence, a third perhaps to do with alcohol, and a third that is unexplained and perhaps varies from borough to borough.  She talked about a third may be to do with better recording; that is something you said.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It was of changed recording.


Joanne McCartney AM:  The change in recording happened some time ago, however she talked about the way it is recorded on the police computers, it is being recorded better now than before.


However, if you have trained your officers to record it better, you would expect to have a spike and then have it plateauing off, however we are seeing month on month slight -- well, more than slight increases, therefore it looks like there is a trend developing.  We know you are doing some work around alcohol and licensing with Project Equinox, however, Commissioner, are you setting a target that you want to see this violence decrease by?


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  We have not, other than the overall targets we have, which are the MOPAC targets.  It seems to me that we can reasonably aspire to at least those, therefore I think we can get back on track because we had seen two years of decrease, therefore this is from a lower base that we have seen an increase However, I think we should be able to get back on track if we can be sure that we have analysed it properly and of course, as I said, within that we have the domestic violence, which we want to see increasing if it is only reporting, we do not want to see actual domestic violence increasing, of course.  Therefore I think those are the things that we know we can still do something about.


The other thing I would urge this body to consider, often I sit here as the Police Chief and someone says, “What are you doing about violence?” but of course local authorities have a part to play in this, they are the licensing authorities.  I would encourage them to look at their strategies because the density of the number of licences, how many licences are there in an area, off-licences, where you can buy stuff at supermarkets, etc, on-licences, when people are challenged about selling to underage people, do they lose a licence or do they get the 15th warning?  What are the policies and strategies that local authorities have?  Because I think they do have a tension between trying to promote the economic wellbeing of an area and the allocation of licences.


The Scots have, I think, got this pretty good.  They have said, instead of the old needs test, “Does this area need another licence?” they have said, “Can the health of this area stand another licence?” by domestic violence, by nutrition and frankly obesity, and many other things.  Therefore they check, before they add another licence to the list, not only is the person responsible, but can that area, that community, sustain it?  I think we have seen too high a density of licences overall.  We will do our best in this area, however I think everybody has to play their part, and if the police bring a case for a licensee who is not respecting the law I think that should be treated very seriously.  It is a privilege to have a licence, not a right.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Thank you.  I have heard from one of my locals, which is that the police often leave it up to the licensing, the next time the licence is up, to bring their evidence to the licensing committee as to why that licence should not be renewed, rather than taking prosecutions themselves, therefore I would be interested in some information about the amount of prosecutions you have taken and in which boroughs, if you can provide that to the Assembly via the Chair.