Transparency in the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
December 9, 2014
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold OBE
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis


Yes, thank you, Chair.  I have a couple of questions for the Commissioner and for the Mayor.  It is moving away; it is still on transparency but it is moving away from the topic raised by my colleague.


Roger Evans AM (Chair):  Not too far.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  Not too far but it is just to do with transparency.  My question is in terms of transparency, in terms of what the MPS says and what the MPS does.  I think that is really a good link.  I want to ask the Commissioner in terms of what the MPS says about stop and search figures and the confidence that then engenders and then what issues a TV programme raises.  I refer to the Channel 4 programme that talked about whereas the MPS is saying it does not have any stop and search targets, the Channel 4 programme under the Freedom of Information request found that a number of Metropolitan police officers were carrying out targeted stop and search activities.  I just want to ask the Commissioner how that fits in with terms of transparency in terms of what you say about stop and search and what is actually going on.


Roger Evans AM (Chair):  I should stop you there because that is actually completely unrelated to the subject matter of the question.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  The subject matter is transparency.


Roger Evans AM (Chair):  No, the title is ‘Transparency’, that is not the subject matter.  Having said that, I did actually not allow supplementary questions on the initial statement of the Commissioner, therefore, I will allow him to respond to that question but we will not push that matter where we cannot.


Answer for Transparency in the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for Transparency in the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis

):  Right.  In terms of targets, the only target we set around stop and search, as Jennette [Arnold OBE AM] will remember, is that we wanted to reduce it and make it more effective and less disproportionate and reduce complaints.  Over the last three years, we have achieved all of those.  We are now carrying out less than half of what we did in 2011.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  What do you say --


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  Let me just complete and then, of course, I will take a further question.  We have actually nearly all but halved it since 2011.  We have reduced the disproportionality.  We have halved the complaints and yet we have arrested more people through that tactic.  We have shown it is better targeted, which is where I am going for your final point about targeting.  We have set targets to reduce it, I acknowledge that; I want to see less of it, but in terms of targeting the targeted, we have targeted some of those people who deserve it, who are the people like the gang members who are going to go round and hurt people.  We have targeted the people who we believe deserve it but we have to go within the law which means obviously, at the time we make the stop and search, is that we have sufficient belief that there is reason for that stop and search which is about the reasons whether it be collecting evidence, weapons or drugs.  We need to make sure we have that proper justification.  In that sense, I acknowledge targeting and I acknowledge targets.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  Do you not think it is an issue of concern to those people who have been following this issue when they receive information from a reputable TV channel which says they were told and they saw information that suggested your officers were expected to, if you like, stop and search at least two people every month?  There were specific numbers allocated to stop and search activities that were to be undertaken.


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  If that was the case, I do not acknowledge that is the strategy.  If it has happened locally, of course, we will look at it.  If it was, it has been remarkably unsuccessful in driving stop and search up because over the last three years, they have come down to historically low levels in a way the MPS has never seen.  I do not accept that even if it has happened occasionally, it has had any profound effect.


I think what that programme did show, and I was asked about this on Saturday, was that there are some officers who seem to have made multiple stop checks where there has been no proper outcome and often those have been black men.  That worries me and I would want to know why that is.  Maybe they can justify it but I think that raises a question that I would want the answer to.  I think overall, we have a far better position than we see in many capitals around the world where, in fact, stop and search has been divisive with the population, the society, rather than helpful.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  As far as you are concerned, there is no issue about what the MPS is saying about stop and search in terms of transparency and what it actually does?


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  I do not think so in the way I have tried to describe here what I take to be the question.  I am not content that we are yet at the bottom of the slope in terms of reducing stop and search and making it more effective.  What I think we show over the last three years is that we have wisely reduced it.  At the same time, violence has come down generally.  I know we have talked about ’violence with injury’ today but, on the whole, violence has come down.


When I took that decision three years ago, if I had been sat before you seeing homicide going through the roof, more people stabbed and a huge amount of more serious violence, you would have said, “Why the heck did you stop stop and searching?”  It was a risk to take three years ago but we have reduced it, we have reduced violence and we have made it better targeted.  If there are individual cases where officers are using that power badly, I would want to know and I want us to do something about it ie - stop it.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair): Thank you.