The future of the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [17]

Session date: 
July 6, 2017
Question By: 
Navin Shah
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Thank you.  Mr Mayor, how prepared is the MPS for any large‑scale antisocial behaviour incidents?


Answer for The future of the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [17]

Answer for The future of the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [17]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  You will be aware, being a longstanding member of the Assembly, that warm summers, history tells us, are often times for large‑scale antisocial incidents.  You remember last year around Hyde Park.  You remember 2011, of course, when there were major disturbances across the country.  One of the things we have to do is make sure we have good intelligence and that we know what is going on amongst communities.  I have been impressed by how the police service is in daily contact with the Borough Commanders across London.  They receive regularly what I call a heat map.  Basically, if there are tensions locally we know about it. 


The key issue is this, Navin.  From the evidence I have seen ‑ and that includes from the national lead, Chief Constable Dave Thompson [West Midlands Police] ‑ around police preparedness, if there were, I am told from the experts, disturbances or riots on the scale of 2011 ‑ I will let the Deputy Commissioner come in ‑ I am not sure we could cope and respond.  Criticised as people were in 2011, I am not sure we could respond at that level in 2017.  Deputy Commissioner?


Craig Mackey QPM (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service):  Some reassurance and some professional worries.  Reassurance in terms of the preparedness in London.  You will know since 2011 the amount of work we have done around that, through to some of the incidents you have seen where one of the things people have noticed is how quickly we are able to mobilise now.  We can do things quite differently here.  On the wider picture, we are doing a piece of work with the National Police Chiefs Council and others talking about how, if there was a reoccurrence of 2011, the entire system would be able to respond to that.  That is all the 42 forces in the country.  That data is less clear at the moment and that is a real challenge.  What is happening for some of the larger forces, when you ask for aid from other forces in the system, they do struggle now to provide those levels of assistance. 


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  My final answer ‑ I know time is short ‑ is that you will remember in 2011 we were helped by other police forces.  Chief Constable Dave Thompson has said and I quote, “We would have real challenges in dealing with something like the 2011 riots again”.


Navin Shah AM:  Thank you for that.  The 2011 HMIC report into the riots concluded, and I will quote this:


“Police estimate they need to outnumber rioters by three or five to one if they are to make arrests and disperse groups – a much higher level of resource than is needed to hold a line and protect territory.”


Have cuts to the police budget lessened our ability to outnumber offenders at large‑scale antisocial behaviour incidents?


Craig Mackey QPM (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service):  As Dave Thompson’s letter said, the system would be challenged now if you saw the levels of 2011 across the country.  As I said in relation to London, we have done a lot of exercising and a lot of testing.  London has that level of resource.  The challenge is, if you look outside London, lots of police forces, for reasons that we all understand, have had to reduce their officer headcount quite considerably.  The challenge for us going forward is: can we make that whole system work?  That is why we have increasingly talked, as professionals in policing, of understanding policing as a system.  If you try to say, “It is just about this bit of policing,” you miss the fact that when things really do press, as we have seen over the last few months, you need every bit of that system to work. 


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Just specifically on London, in 2011, Chair, because it was the year before the Olympics, we had 32,000 officers.  Now we have 31,000 and far fewer community support officers as well. 


Navin Shah AM:  Thank you.