Mayor's Oral Update (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
December 17, 2014
Question By: 
Len Duvall OBE
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Len Duvall AM:  Mr Mayor, one of the key elements of Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe’s [Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis] article was about public risk.  Do you agree that if the reforms that he is advocating do not take place, the public would be put at risk by the cuts that have been planned for the MPS in the future by central government?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Mayor's Oral Update (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for Mayor's Oral Update (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  The acid test of what the police are achieving is in the reduction of crime.  It is continuing to fall generally across London and indeed across the country, although slightly faster now in London than elsewhere in the United Kingdom (UK), which is a remarkable achievement and goes back to what I was saying to Jenny [Jenny Jones AM] about the role of the MPS.


Len, let us be clear.  What Bernard [Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis] is arguing for is a continued drive to reform both the MPS and other police forces in order to liberate funds, to put police out there and to keep crime-fighting at the core of what they are doing.  Insofar as he is calling for economies, for backroom mergers and for a concentration of effort on human resources (HR), information technology (IT) and that kind of thing, he has to be right.  It is very difficult to achieve this.  People have their empires and people have their fiefdoms in the public sector that they want to keep separate.  It is often very difficult to agglomerate these operations.  However, he is right to say that at a time of great budgetary pressure we have to keep doing it.  I have no doubt that we can and that we will be able to manage the risk to the public that you rightly identify and to keep crime coming down.


Len Duvall AM:  One of the issues, as I have to keep reminding you sometimes, is that there is a success story on tackling crime and it is going down in certain areas but the rise in violent crime, particularly amongst our young people, is going up.


Just coming back to the issue about public risk and issues around reform, which reforms do you support that you think are needed over the next couple of years when it is coming towards the end of your mayoral term?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I certainly think there is more that could be done to improve productivity and to have greater efficiencies in the backroom.  We have done an awful lot of that already.  We are continuing to operate, as you know, a very forward-looking commercial strategy in our buildings management policy.  All that must continue to be done, although there are no plans for any further changes or closures to police stations, for the avoidance of doubt, certainly not during this mayoralty.


I think personally it is worth looking at what the Commissioner is talking about in terms of co-operation between police forces.  The difficulty is how do you square that with localism and people’s desire to feel that their local police force represents them?  What Bernard was calling for was nine super police forces and that has not met with favour from the Government.  Perhaps it is possible to do what some boroughs in London are doing and share backroom services between police forces without actually destroying the individuality and accountability of the police force.  We have to look at all that kind of thing.


Len Duvall AM:  Mr Mayor, one of the issues that Sir Bernard put on the table, if we can say it like that, was the merger of boroughs in terms of the borough commands.  Is that something that you want a discussion on here in London or is that something that you are against?  Do you support that?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I do not think he said that in the article in The Guardian.


Len Duvall AM:  He did.  In The Guardian he did.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I must have missed that.  I am sorry.  I do not read The Guardian with as much attention as I should!  I do read The Guardian.  I want to stress I do read The Guardian.  I get it every morning.  I am just looking at this bit about the boroughs.  I cannot find this, but I will take it ‑‑


Len Duvall AM:  It is towards the end.  Do you support, then, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe’s reform of merging the boroughs --


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It is a serious point.  It is right to have co-operation between boroughs, but I have always believed there should be an individual borough commander or there should be somebody at the top of every borough who is accountable and responsible for that borough.  That is also emphatically the view of Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.  Yes, you can do things to pool resources because of course criminals do not respect borough boundaries, but I would not want to see individual borough commands taken away.


Len Duvall AM:  Fine.  Let us be very clear, Mr Mayor, because we have this before us.  I just want to put you on the spot here.  There should be a named person for every borough, but would they be organising the services of that borough or would it be a number of super-boroughs coming together or two or three boroughs?  Where do you stand on that?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No, no, I am talking about ‑‑


Len Duvall AM:  Whilst the borough boundaries are what they are, you are committed to a police command structure based on the present system?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am committed to, as you rightly put it, a single nominated officer being in command and in control of each borough.


Len Duvall AM:  The present system?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes.


Len Duvall AM:  All right, Mr Mayor, can we go back to public risk now?  For a number of months now, at the PCC, there have been conversations with senior officers following on from the review of the Local Policing Model because we know it was not working as well as it could be.  That review is still outstanding and it has been promised so many times now.  It just shows you how difficult it is on the ground for our police officers to deliver that Local Policing Model.  Maybe with the new staffing through it might be better, but I am not sure about that in terms of the concept.


In terms of public risk, where do you stand on the police saying they are not sure which crimes they can look at or investigate in the future due to the pressures they face?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  They have not said that.


Len Duvall AM:  They have said that at the PCC and it has been followed up again at the PCC.  They have said that they are increasingly - with all the actions under your watch that have occurred about screening out crime, some of the issues not just at borough level but at Scotland Yard level - having to make judgements about which crimes they can prioritise and deal with down on the patch.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No.


Len Duvall AM:  Do you agree with me, then, that we want a police service that investigates all crime from anti-graffiti to counterterrorism and everything in the middle?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, and London has always ‑‑


Len Duvall AM:  Mr Mayor, a final question, then.  In terms of your budgets that you are going to deliver over this coming budget and the following budget - which is also in the Bernard Hogan-Howe article because he says, “If we have to make the level of cuts that central Government is envisaging, we will have to go below 32,000 police officers” - will you present a budget over the next two years to the best of your abilities to protect those 32,000 police officers?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  He does not say that about reducing ‑‑


Len Duvall AM:  He does say that.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  He does not say that.


Len Duvall AM:  He says ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  He does not say that.


Len Duvall AM:  He says that if you cut them, he will have to cut police officers --


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  He does not.  There are many people who have not had the benefit of reading this The Guardian article, but I have it before me.  He does not say that.


Len Duvall AM:   -- and I have read The Mail, which is one of your newspapers that supports you --


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  He does not say that and I can tell you there are currently 100 officers joining every month.  There are 100 ‑‑


Len Duvall AM:  OK, then.  Will you commit yourself, then, to the 32,000 police officers, yes or no, in your next two budgets?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, I will and ‑‑


Len Duvall AM:  Thank you.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ we have delivered, as I have told you ‑‑


Len Duvall AM:  Let us hope you keep that promise, unlike some of the others you have made.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ not only 32,000 now but we are recruiting at the moment.  Quite unlike any other force in this country, the MPS is recruiting.  We have taken on about 5,000 and we have 100 new officers every month.  Virtually all the 2,600 neighbourhood officers are now in post ‑‑


Len Duvall AM:  I look forward to your budgets, Mr Mayor.  I look forward to your budgets protecting the police service.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ and you should pay tribute to this Mayoralty and the budgets we have set in keeping police numbers high in London ‑‑


Len Duvall AM:  It has been a long time coming.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ which is in sharp contradistinction to any other police force ‑‑


Len Duvall AM:  That is not true.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Absolutely.  Every other police force in the UK ‑‑


Len Duvall AM:  It is not true.  You are lying, Mr Mayor.  Stop misleading the public.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ has seen reductions in numbers.


Len Duvall AM:  Stop misleading the public.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am not misleading the public.


Len Duvall AM:  You are.