21st Century Bobby (Supplementary) [2]

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


Commissioner, I was quite surprised to read in The Times yesterday some comments you had made about not being able to track people on iPhones.  It was particularly relating to Uber, where they can track somebody who calls up for a cab.  It is rather strange given what we see on American television and police that you in the MPS do not seem to be able to track anybody who has called in on a phone where it might be very, very helpful if they are in some danger.

Supplementary To: 


Answer for 21st Century Bobby (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for 21st Century Bobby (Supplementary) [2]

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

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  This might have been more pertinent to Baroness Jones’s [Jenny Jones AM] question but I will do my best to answer it. 


The point I was making was there is a proper debate about the new legislation going through Parliament about communications data.  Baroness Jones [AM] would like to talk about that particular sphere.  In a debate that London First arranged about a week ago, I was being challenged, “Why do the police need all these powers?”  As one of the arguments that I deployed, I merely made the point that you actually have far more intrusion in your life as an individual by commercial entities than you will ever have by the state.  You trust Google, Tesco and Uber.  Point two: where you choose to, you can actually put apps on your phone to see where your daughter is tonight to make sure she is safe and yet we do not do that.  I was merely contrasting that if we do not trust the state, for some reason we seem to trust commerce with some very private information. 


The final point to mention because it is pertinent in particular to this is about Uber.  If you ring for Uber or you text, they know where you are and where the nearest taxi is to put you in touch.  It is a great commercial service.  If you ring me in our control room and say, “I have just been stabbed”, but you cannot get the words out, I do not know where you are.  It will take a while.  Interestingly, when I went to Qatar, they can.  They regard that as a victim-based service, not as intrusion into public life. 


There is a debate to be had and I understand that.  Generally I would always trust the state, in my view.  I am part of the establishment; I realise that.  There are some great benefits from this technology.  We would be foolish to lose them for the concerns.  It would be better to regulate it than it would be to lose it.  That is my point.


Richard Tracey AM:  Thank you.