Oral Update on the Report of the Mayor

MQT on 2018-03-22
Session date: 
March 22, 2018
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold OBE
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman in the Chair):  The Mayor will now provide an oral update of up to five minutes in length on matters occurring since the publication of his report.


Answer for Oral Update on the Report of the Mayor

Answer for Oral Update on the Report of the Mayor

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Good morning, Chairman and Assembly Members.  Over the past 12 months, London has endured a series of horrific terrorist attacks: Westminster, London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Parsons Green.  I know, as the London Assembly comes together today on the anniversary of the Westminster attack, that our thoughts are with the families of those who were killed, survivors and everyone affected.  We will never forget them or the bravery of our emergency services and first-responders who ran towards danger whilst urging others to safety.


I will never forget the courage of Police Constable Keith Palmer, who paid the ultimate price whilst protecting Parliament.  Today, we pay tribute to him and the other four lives lost due to the attack on 22 March last year [2017]: Kurt Cochran, Andreea Cristea, Aysha Frade, and Leslie Rhodes.


Following consultation with bereaved families, survivors and others, I have announced plans to mark the anniversaries.  The phrase ‘London United’ will be projected onto Parliament today and then onto London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Parsons Green Tube Station.


From today, the public can pay their respects and sign a digital Book of Hope here at City Hall and send messages using #LondonUnited on social media, which will then be projected onto a map of London downstairs.  I have this morning signed the Book of Hope and I know Assembly Members will want to do so later on today.  This afternoon, I will be attending a service of remembrance alongside the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, and I also will visit Parliament Square to pay my respects.


As we enter this period of remembrance and reflection, I know I speak for everyone here when I say we remain united as Londoners, united against terrorism, united in supporting the families and the survivors, and united in our hope for the future.


Chairman, as you have said, I have been asked to give three requests for oral updates.  The first one is from Assembly Member Berry on automatic facial recognition and the ethics panel.  I reformed the London Policing Ethics Panel last year in order to help to maintain oversight of the work of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and ensure their activity is conducted to the highest ethical standard.  The Panel, which is chaired by the ethical policy expert Dr Suzanne Shale, is independent of City Hall and the MPS, designing their own work programme in consultation with me, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), and the Commissioner.


I have agreed with Dr Shale that the use by the MPS of automatic facial recognition should constitute their first piece of work and the Panel began this towards the end of 2017.  The small-scale trials have seen facial recognition technology used three times by the MPS, twice at the 2016 and 2017 Notting Hill Carnivals and once in late 2017 at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph.  As with any new technology, it is right that we consider the benefits and risks in the round, which is why it is important to have trials and why I am sure you will join me in welcoming the Ethics Panel’s interest.  It is important that the Panel examines its use fully and presents general recommendations to me and the Commissioner on how digital technology can be used to keep the public safe whilst also respecting their rights as citizens.  In addition, the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, has discussed this with the Commissioner at the MOPAC-MPS Oversight Board.


The Ethics Panel has already held evidence sessions with the MPS, the Biometrics, Surveillance Camera and Information Commissioners, the Home Office, Liberty, and Big Brother Watch.  I understand the Panel has been impressed with the level of engagement it has had from all sides.  I expect, Chairman, the Panel to publish an interim report in the coming months, with a full report later this year.


I have also been asked to give an oral update in relation to Santander Cycles and the Thames cable car by Assembly Member Pidgeon.  With close to 10.5 million hires, 2017 was a record year for the cycle hire scheme, and that has continued into 2018 with the best-ever January.  As my Transport Strategy clearly sets out, I want to increase the use of Santander Cycles and explore the potential of new models of cycle hire to reinforce it as an integral part of London’s cycling infrastructure.  My investment in new bikes shows how committed I am to the future of Santander Cycles.  They can even be seen on the front cover of the Transport Strategy.


I was pleased that in partnership with Lambeth Council we were able to expand the Santander cycle scheme to Brixton last month, where there are now seven docking stations and 200 new Santander Cycles.  I have no doubt that the bikes will quickly become a familiar sight across Brixton as they help tens of thousands more Londoners and visitors travel easily across the area.  It is yet another example of how we have made cycling more accessible, helping to improve London’s air quality and tackle congestion.


TfL will work with partners to further develop the cycle hire scheme.  While there are no current plans to extend the network, TfL would certainly consider doing so if it was economically viable and there were sufficient benefits.  TfL has demonstrated its ability to work with interested parties to find suitable funding packages and is ready to do so again.


On the future of the cable car, TfL expects the Emirates Air Line to continue to cover operating costs and contribute towards its original construction costs over the next five years.  In the longer term, TfL is open to all options.


Chairman, the third request for an oral update is from Assembly Member Dismore on West Ham [United].  I understand that many West Ham fans have various concerns about the club and the way it is run, but the scenes we witnessed at the London Stadium on 10 March [2018] were a disgrace and I condemn the mindless hooliganism of a small minority of people intent on disrupting the game.  The safety and security of spectators and staff has to be the number one priority.


A full, detailed investigation is underway.  Last week’s Emergency Safety Advisory Group meeting sought to understand what happened and to identify improvements.  The Safety Advisory Group recognised that the stewarding and security operation was stretched significantly by the unprecedented scale and volume of incidents.  Initial investigations show an apparently planned and co-ordinated campaign of disruption.  More than a dozen fights broke out in different parts of the ground between West Ham supporters at the same time.  26 different individuals tried to get onto the pitch, 22 were stopped by stewards and four were successful.  There were 150 separate incidents, 50 public order offences and 40 assaults.  Closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage clearly shows a co-ordinated move by a known group of individuals to the directors’ box, resulting in the scenes we all witnessed.


A former Upton Park steward - a middle-aged woman - was knocked to the ground and trampled by mindless thugs, suffering whiplash and concussion.  Another ex-serviceman suffered severe bruising, protecting one of the pitch invaders from the blows and kicks of other West Ham fans.  Six of the 56 persons of interest have previously served banning orders at the London Stadium or Upton Park.  I understand work is underway to identify, prosecute and ban all those responsible for violence and disorder at the match.  I would like to publicly thank the stewards and security staff for their efforts and restraint under the most intense provocation.


With oversight from the Safety Advisory Group, measures will be taken to further improve the security regime so that it is better placed to respond should similar incidents occur again.  This will include increasing the level of stewarding, enhancing pitch security, and having a significantly larger police presence at the next match.  Under the contracts signed by the previous Mayor, these costs fall onto the London taxpayer, despite them being the result of the behaviour of some West Ham supporters.  While I have called on the operator to deliver the best possible stewarding at the venue, I have also called on the owners of West Ham to take decisive action to permanently remove those intent on violence from attending matches and to take responsibility for managing the appalling behaviour of a small minority of its followers.


In the days after the match, I received letters from Baroness Brady [CBE, Vice-Chairman, West Ham United Football Club] claiming there had been a 15% cut in safety and security expenditure and that the resources available to the venue safety team at the Burnley match were inadequate.  Having received reports from senior officials, I am advised there has been no requirement to reduce stewarding and security spending during the season.  This is judged on a match-by-match basis.  I am advised in fact that the cost of stewarding and security for the Burnley game on 10 March [2018] was in line with the agreed standard for category A games and was actually similar to the Chelsea game, a much higher-risk fixture.


I have called on those who run West Ham to focus on building better relations with their supporters and tackling those intent on violence.  The overwhelming majority of West Ham supporters and London taxpayers deserve much better.


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman in the Chair):  Thank you, Mr Mayor.