Use of borough-wide Section 60

Meeting: 
MQT on 2018-06-21
Session date: 
June 21, 2018
Reference: 
2018/1434
Question By: 
Sian Berry
Organisation: 
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

When is it appropriate for Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to be applied to Stop and Search across a borough-wide area?

Answer

Answer for Use of borough-wide Section 60

Answer for Use of borough-wide Section 60

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Chairman.  It is important to place this issue in context.  We have seen since 2014 an increase in violent crime across England and Wales, including London, and this includes teenagers dying on the streets from gun and knife violence.  My Knife Crime Strategy is delivering a public health approach to reducing violence.  This includes backing the police in conducting additional enforcement activity and targeted, intelligence-led Stop and Search. 

 

The use of section 60 orders is an important tool to be deployed in strictly limited circumstances, where a senior officer reasonably believes that incidents involving serious violence may take place in any locality in the police area, and to prevent serious violence and enable the recovery of offensive weapons.  Authorisation is required from a Commander or above, and a Superintendent then manages it on an hourly basis.  This is a high level of authorisation. 

 

We have had the biggest roll-out of body-worn videos of any city in the world since I became Mayor.  Body-worn videos are worn for accountability and transparency, as well as to give the police more confidence.  The use of section 60 powers and their application, whether borough-wide or otherwise, is an operational decision for our police service.  These powers enable police officers to conduct Stop and Search in a defined geographical area, which might be borough-wide, if there is an immediate concern of serious violence or the widespread carrying of weapons.  This is often used immediately after a violent incident to prevent more violence occurring. 

 

During the course of 2017 and 2018, 106 section 60 authorisations were issued.  We have seen this increase significantly recently, with 95 issued across London from January to April this year.  My Deputy Mayor [for Policing and Crime] and I now receive regular updates on the use of section 60, including where it is implemented across whole boroughs.  It is part of our fortnightly discussions on knife crime and violence with the Commissioner.  I am seeing her later on today as well. 

 

Of the 95 authorisations issued between January and April this year, 46 covered whole-borough areas.  Section 60 Stop and Searches accounted for 2.5% of Stop and Searches in the same period.  This wider increase in the use of section 60 comes at a time when the Commissioner and I have been clear that Londoners can expect to see an increase in the use of targeted, intelligence-led Stop and Search, and this includes the use of body-worn cameras by officers during Stop and Search.  We know that these can reduce complaints.

 

Sian Berry AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  I have been trying to find out more about this issue.  Unfortunately, I had two written questions that I have submitted to the May MQT to try to get some data on the use of borough-wide Stop and Search orders going back in time.  They have not been answered yet, and I wondered if you might be able to speed that up a bit.  Thank you for telling us there have been 46 borough-wide Stop and Search section 60 orders so far this year.  I have been trying to track those by looking at the Twitter feeds of the police, and I do not think I have captured all of those that way. 

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chairman, I know that we raised this at the last Police and Crime Committee (PCC).  I am looking towards the Chairman now.  Why don’t we agree for me to arrange for the Deputy Mayor and the relevant officer to come to the PCC?  Other Members can go along to that Committee and there can be a proper explanation of this issue.  It is really important that Assembly Members have confidence in what the police are doing.  The police want you to have confidence in what they are doing. 

 

Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  I am sure we would welcome that, Mr Mayor.

 

Sian Berry AM:  Thank you, yes.  I do not have much time here today, and in Police and Crime [Committee] (PCC) already other Assembly Members who cover constituencies are concerned that potentially the borough-wideness of this does not mean that it is necessary targeted and intelligence-led.  We worry that it is being used as a reassurance tool rather than for tactical reasons.  We want a very close eye kept on this.  Can you reassure us that you are keeping a very close eye on this?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Firstly, can I say I understand the articulation of your concerns?  I think they are reasonable concerns to be articulated.  Can I reassure you that those are concerns that others have as well?  I am reassured the police are doing what they can.  I have seen myself the use of section 60 post an incident.  Can I give you a real example?  A stabbing occurs.  We are worried about reprisals.  Police know tensions are high, and we know it is limited to a geographical area.  In most circumstances, the senior officer on the ground will ask for authorisation, and he or she knows the area better, and that has led to a               de-escalation.  What the police are also keen to do is make sure there are civilians present during the high-profile Stop and Searches, where the Violent Crime Taskforce is out.  The Deputy Mayor [for Policing and Crime] and I are making sure we have more checks and balances, and that is why I am keen for you and the PCC to see some of the things we are doing. 

 

I am open to ideas, by the way, Chairman, about more scrutiny.  The other good news is the Stop and Search monitoring groups are having more scrutiny as well, but it is important we get this really important tool.

 

Sian Berry AM:  Yes, I am sure it is.  Just finally on the issue of communication, I am a ward councillor and we had a borough-wide section 60 across Camden, where I was not informed about this until several days later and it had gone on for a couple of days.  That is just to give us an example.  I think we are seeing maybe not the communication there should be.  Like I say, I have not found all 46 on Twitter, and that is an important way for the police to let people know.  If we are going to have people covered by these quite draconian powers, it is important that the communication is good.  Hopefully you can do something to improve the communication as well.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  No.  Let me be quite clear.  I do not think it is reasonable to expect the police in operational matters to connect with 2,000 councillors, 73 MPs, 32 council leaders, 25 Assembly Members, and the Mayor and Deputy Mayor and others to know every time there is a section 60.

 

Sian Berry AM:  No, no.  Just when it is covering the ward.  This is the expansion of it. 

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chairman, this is a really important point.  Often these are taking place at 3.00am.  I just think we have to be reasonable about operational decisions taken by senior officers, and I have explained in my answer the authority required, the hourly checks, and often these are instant decisions.  The police are doing what they can, using social media and letting key stakeholders know.  I think it is unreasonable to expect the people to let every ward councillor across London know when there is a section 60, and I am not sure that is what is being suggested.

 

Sian Berry AM:  No.  We are out of time, I am afraid, but hopefully you will promise to discuss this at PCC.