Cuts to Policing (Supplementary) [6]

Session date: 
June 3, 2015
Question By: 
Kit Malthouse
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) & Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis)


Mr Mayor, you and I have sat in this horseshoe now for just over seven years.


Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It has been historic.


Kit Malthouse AM MP:  During that time, the conversation and the questions from the other parties have never changed.


Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It has deteriorated.


Kit Malthouse AM MP:  It has always been, “You are cutting.  It is a disaster.  Things are going to get worse”, yet crime and the budget have inexorably fallen, together, in parallel.  Do you think your victory in 2012 and the Government’s victory not a few weeks ago illustrate that the public does not buy it anymore - actually, what they want is for politicians to work with police officers and others on how they can be more efficient with the resources that they have - and also that you have, with the Commissioner, fundamentally broken the idea that inputs equal outputs on policing?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Cuts to Policing (Supplementary) [6]

Answer for Cuts to Policing (Supplementary) [6]

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

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  There is a large measure of truth in that, Kit.  What the MPS has shown over the last few years is that it can do outstanding work.


I want to come back a bit on what Jennette [Arnold OBE AM, Chair] was saying.  Every organisation and every profession produces great strains on people who work in it.  Overall the men and women of the MPS are doing an absolutely unbelievable job.  As I said just now, they are producing high levels of satisfaction in Londoners.  They are driving down crime.  We need to make sure they are properly resourced but Londoners will want to see that is in the context of cutting out waste.  When people speak up for keeping unnecessary bricks and mortar and fetishising buildings that could be sold off to the benefit of the community, I think Londoners do accept your argument.


Kit Malthouse AM MP:  I just do not understand why significant reductions in crime, at the same time as significant reductions in expenditure, are not a cause for celebration.  If you are getting more for less, why is that not a cause for celebration?


There is one small thing there I wanted just to suggest which is about buildings.  Obviously people do worry about police stations.  That is because they sense they are a proxy for presence.  People believe that if there is a police station there will be police officers nearby.  Given on your own estimate, Commissioner, you will go from 600 to 400 buildings.  That is an average of 12 per borough.  Do you think it would be a good idea to invest a little in signage if a building is a proxy for presence?  Say, for instance: you have a socking great control room building behind Vauxhall Station.  No one knows it is a MPS building because it has no signage on it.  If you put a socking great billboard on the side that said, “MPS officers work here on a daily basis”, it might be reassuring to people on the basis that they know there will be police officers around.  Whether better signage across the estate ‑‑


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  The short answer is, yes, with two exceptions.  Surveillance units, no.  To be fair, like the Yard [Scotland Yard, former headquarters of the MPS], we have buildings where really we are not equipped to accept the public.  We have buildings where we have people operating and, if they turned up, the officers and staff who work there are not going to be best placed to help them. 


The broad point, yes.  In fact, one thing we tried in Liverpool - which we never managed to get into London but we ought to - in the headquarters which you will remember along the Strand there, which is a building of about seven storeys, we had a screen that went from top to bottom.  We put on the side of it changing messages about how well we said we thought the area was doing and the police were doing.  Probably we should take more of that option.  Your fundamental point, should we sign better, I suspect is probably right.


Kit Malthouse AM MP:  You have a warehouse under the flight path into Heathrow, have you not?  The roof ‑‑


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  I could not possibly reveal that --


Kit Malthouse AM MP:  ‑‑ presents an opportunity to advertise your presence to 50 million, “We are watching you as you arrive”.


Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You could stick a big blue light on top of it, Bernard, for the planes.


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  Can I interrupt this self-congratulatory fest?  If they do it in Liverpool, it is OK.  I am not sure it is to do with cuts, unless you are suggesting substituting signs for policemen.


Kit Malthouse AM MP:  It was to do with police buildings.  I am conscious, Chair, that although Andrew’s [Andrew Dismore AM] question was important, you had extended an element of generosity to him that was not extended to me earlier and so I might have been taking liberal licence.  Anyway, I will leave you with the suggestion.


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  Chair, could I just mention one very quick thing?  If I do not take the opportunity I may forget.  It is really going to back to Jennette’s [Jennette Arnold OBE AM] point about whether our people are under pressure.


We have had a BBC documentary crew in for one year.  They stopped filming around three to four months ago.  Five one-hour programmes will go out on BBC One starting on Monday of next week.  I encourage you to have a look.  I am proud of my people already.  I am prouder still as a result of seeing the pre-runs of those.  It is, creatively, called The Met.  That is about the best the BBC could come up with.  It is a genuine attempt to show a lot of what we have done during the year from the officers’ perspective and some of the managers including myself and essentially the quality of the people day after day after day.  It also shows the pressures, personal as well as physical.


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  We look forward to lots of good publicity that you did not have to pay for.  That will be good stuff.


Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Not directly.


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  No, but neither did they pay us for the opportunity to film us.


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  Jennette?


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Chair, it is just that I have been named on a number of occasions.  Can I go on record to say to our guests I believe I am one of the major champions of police officers?  In the years of serving my boroughs I have been there on the front line championing the work of good officers.  They are the best.  That does not stop me raising issues about the evidence that shows that there are some officers who have a right to raise their concerns about their experiences.