The future of the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [3]

Session date: 
July 6, 2017
Question By: 
Caroline Pidgeon
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor



Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Thank you.  Mr Mayor, we have talked this morning about the future of the MPS and one of the most pressing issues facing policing in London going forward is the issue of knife crime.  We have seen 31 fatal stabbings this year and knife crime has increased by about 30% in the last year.  You recently released your long-awaited Knife Crime Strategy and in it you announced the establishment of an 80-strong specialist team to tackle this issue.  Which teams are these police officers going to come from?


Answer for The future of the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [3]

Answer for The future of the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [3]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I will just make the point because we need to say it; otherwise, it is a travesty to the victims.  Every death on the streets of London is an utter tragedy.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Absolutely.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Every time a young person decides to carry a knife is a failure, as far as I am concerned.


There already is a team working on what is called Operation Sceptre.  What we have done is we have accelerated what they are doing and so we will now have them at least once a month targeting high knife-crime areas with uniformed officers, plainclothes officers and specialist officers who can identify who is carrying a knife.  We will be targeting known offenders using section 60 as well as the usual stop-and-search powers to make sure we have sweeps of weapons and that we stop, search and arrest those carrying weapons.  We will also target shops - online as well - to stop the sale of illegal knives and also legal knives being sold to underage people.


This team already exists.  Craig can give you the details of the breakdown, but these 80 officers already exist and so we are not having to bring in additional officers.  What we are doing is - a similar point I made to Assembly Member O’Connell - reprofiling the work they do and so they are targeting this particular issue of knife crime.


I will just give you the context, by the way, which is that across the country there has been an increase in knife crime.  It is not simply a London problem.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Yes, I picked that up on the radio this morning.  This is the same team that was announced in May [2017] around this operation and they are fulltime working on this; they are not just once a month doing these initiatives?


Craig Mackey QPM (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service):  No.  Sceptre does happen once a month and we have it planned out throughout the year.  Every one of the London boroughs has what we call a ‘four Ps’ plan.  They have specific areas they will be doing on pursuit.  How do you catch people?  What do you do about Prevent?  How do you protect people?  It is right across those things and every one of them has a knife crime strategy.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Where are these officers from?


Craig Mackey QPM (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service):  The officers are a mixture of Territorial Policing and the Serious and Organised Crime (SC&O) world.  It is those two business groups coming together.  Some of the P&C Members will have met Commander Duncan Ball and Commander [Dave] Musker, who have been leading on this work across those two business groups.  It is the teams of people who work for them around the dedication for this work.


The new Commissioner has been very strong on this.  It goes back to a point made by Assembly Member O’Connell about how a clear priority is around violence.  Knife crime is too high.  It has to come down.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Lovely.  Thank you.  Mr Mayor, how will you measure progress on knife crime going forward?  You have your strategy?  Are you looking at having some kind of target at all for reducing knife crime?  What is your plan?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  You will be aware of the dashboard that exists on the websites.  There are five boroughs that have higher knife crime than other boroughs.  We are working closely with the borough leaders there.  We have now 300 school safety officers working in schools.  We have also made other offers, whether it is wands being offered to schools, whether it is the gangs exit strategy, whether it is youth workers in major trauma centres.


There are obvious ways of measuring knife crime with numbers of people injured and weapons seized, numbers of actions taken against those selling weapons illegally and actions taken against those selling online.  There are a number of different ways of measuring success.  The key thing for me is reducing the fear of knife crime and reducing knife crime.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Thank you.  I look forward to seeing that pulled together.  The other issue is that in your Strategy you talk about having a local knife crime plan for each borough.  How are you going to engage Londoners in that?  With the priorities that were set per borough, quite frankly, we were quite concerned that it felt very top-down with the council leader, the chief executive and MOPAC rather than the community and those groups being involved.  How will the communities get involved in that?


Craig Mackey QPM (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service):  Do you want me to take that?


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Or the Mayor.


Craig Mackey QPM (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service):  The work that has gone on at the moment in terms of the development of those plans that are borough-owned like at the moment around the police has involved some work with advisory groups, leaders and others in local boroughs about the issues and where we go, and then some of the groups we worked with around things like diversion schemes and some of those.  You have seen some examples quite recently where we have been out talking to groups of young people and talking to people in London around what is actually going to work in their area.


I would just give a real endorsement to colleagues in MOPAC.  I do not know if any Members here were involved in the consultation on the Knife Crime Strategy, but it was extensive.  I have to say as someone who has done this a few times before that I was impressed with the range of stakeholders that bought into that debate about the real things we can do.  What do we know that works?  How do we get away from this thing where people say that in their part of London the only thing that works is football or youth groups or something like that and in this part of London something else works?  Where is the hard evidence if we are going to invest public money in these things?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Just to reassure you, we have spoken to hundreds of Londoners, to community partners and to other members of the community as well before we drafted the Knife Crime Strategy, which is why it took us longer than we would otherwise have done.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Yes, the borough ones as well.  Thank you.