Tackling Crime

Plenary on 2018-11-01
Session date: 
November 1, 2018
Question By: 
Steve O'Connell
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor



Answer for Tackling Crime

Answer for Tackling Crime

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you for your question. 


The level of crime in London, particularly violent crime, is unacceptable.  The latest figures show that over the past year crime across the country has risen by 11.6%, and here in London by 4.4%.  I am determined that we tackle this issue head-on.  Working closely with the MPS, we have set up a new dedicated Violent Crime Task Force funded by City Hall, with over 270 dedicated police officers focused on the worst-affected areas of London.  The Task Force has already had real results.  In its first six months, officers have made over

1,800 arrests, recovered over 160 firearms, recovered over 430 knives, and removed over 320 offensive weapons from our streets. 


We have announced a new Violence Reduction Unit, which will bring the police and City Hall together with local councils, charities, community groups and others to continue our public health approach to tackling violent crime.  I chaired the first meeting of the partnership Reference Group this week, and we have created a new £45 million Young Londoners Fund to provide young people with positive alternatives to crime, helping them get out of criminal gangs and into employment and training. 


What is clear is that when the police have the resources they need, their work is truly world-class.  For example, at the last Policing Plenary there were understandable concerns about moped-enabled crime, but through the hard work of the MPS and other partners, the volume of this type of crime has been halved.  While we are not complacent, it does show what the police can do when they have the resources and support they need.  I am satisfied that under extremely difficult circumstances we have been doing everything possible to keep our city safe. 


What I am not satisfied about is this Government’s record of cuts to the police and youth services, which have contributed to these problems in the first place.  As I said in my opening statement, there is no doubt that the levels of crime we are facing have been made much worse by Theresa May MP’s [Prime Minister] huge cuts, and this is something we must all lobby the Government to change urgently. 


Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  Commissioner, have you anything to add?


Cressida Dick CBE QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  Thank you very much.  Chairman, if I could just quickly say some of the things that I am extremely proud of in terms of tackling crime.  I am very proud of the way our counter-terrorist effort has stepped up to the increased threat and the increased volume of demand and has had again a very, very busy year in terms of arrests and charges and indeed disruptions of lethal plots, together with leading the efforts to investigate the horrible crimes in Salisbury and Amesbury.  


I am pleased - but there is a long way further to go - about the improvements in our ability to investigate child abuse in various different ways, and you will remember we had a very difficult Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMICFRS) report on that 18 months to a couple of years ago.  We are improving there.  There is more to do. 


I am very proud of what we have done in relation to moped-enabled crime, which, as you know, was going up almost exponentially for two or three years.  Now it is hugely down. 


I am very proud of the efforts against violent crime.  The whole MPS has pivoted and it is on everybody’s agenda.  A huge number of people have contributed to that, not least of course the Violent Crime Task Force.  When you look at the productivity, the arrests and the seizures across the whole MPS, it is an enormous set of successes in terms of our investigations and our seizures.  Again, there is much more to do.


I am very pleased with the work of our public order people.  You may not think of that as crime, but, my goodness, we are working in quite unsettled times with international uncertainties, political uncertainties, some tensions in some of our communities, and we have prevented major disorder or indeed significant disorder despite having some enormous protests and events to deal with. 


Our criminal finance seizures are up at record levels.  We have influenced Government policy in a number of ways, and we are a huge user, as an example, of the account freezing orders, way ahead of any other law enforcement body. 


We have done some great work in modern slavery and human trafficking.  Just last week you will have seen the arrests in relation to a joint investigation with Romania.  I think we are showing some strong leadership in support of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), working with Government, working with the Mayor, in so many areas, not least of course county lines, gangs and serious violence. 


It has been a very challenging year, as the Mayor mentioned.  In almost all categories of crime, the rises in the rest of the country have been very much higher than in London, but I am not happy that crime has gone up.  Our most similar forces - Manchester, West Midlands, West Yorkshire - have gone up much faster than we have, and in many cases have a higher already rate per head of population.  We have done this at a time of increased demand, expectations and stretch on resources, and, as I have said already, going through some very major changes, the largest in our history.


Steve O’Connell AM:  Thank you very much and good morning to you both.  I certainly accept, speaking for myself and perhaps on behalf of the [London Assembly’s Police and Crime] Committee, that these last

12 months have been very difficult and challenging times.  I would like to take the opportunity also to thank our brave officers on behalf of the Committee and on behalf of Londoners for keeping us safe, and I accept the resourcing challenges that you had.  When you respond, Commissioner, I will be interested in your thoughts around the announcement this week of the extra £160 million, I believe it is, for counter-terrorism.  I am keen to investigate how much of that is coming London’s way, and you may like to consider that when you respond. 


Notwithstanding that, my question really is about whether you are both, separately and jointly, satisfied with your record on tackling crime up to now.  I ask that question in the context of the figures.  We have seen serious violence at an unprecedented level.  “Stabilising” is a word that you use, Commissioner, but stabilising at an unacceptable level.  Also, neighbourhood crime is at a very high level.  There is a question within here, Chairman, I hasten to add.  We have seen a period where sanction detections have gone in the wrong direction.  I would ask you again to comment perhaps slightly more briefly than you did earlier.  First of all, Mr Mayor, being elected to keep Londoners safe, are you satisfied with your performance based on those figures?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am never satisfied when there are victims of crime.  I think none of us should be satisfied when there is even one victim of crime.  What we cannot do is have a ‘sliding doors’ scenario where you have the last two-and-a-bit years with a different Mayor and different policies, different resources, and [have that compared with] what we have done over the last two years.  The best comparison I can make is to compare ourselves with the most-similar forces or the rest of England and Wales.  As the Commissioner and I have mentioned in answer to your opening question, as unhappy as I am - and you have heard the Commissioner, as unhappy as she is - about the increases in crime in our great city, the reality is, if you compare London to not just England and Wales but most-similar forces, the increase has been less. 


I will give you three examples which are relevant to the question you have asked.  One is violence against the person.  Violence against the person includes homicide, violence with injury, violence without injury, stalking and harassment.  Across England and Wales this has gone up by 21.9%.  Across most-similar forces - think of West Midlands, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester - it has gone up by 24.8%.  In London it is 4.5%.  We are not happy with a 4.5% increase and we want it to go down,but compare and contrast that versus 24.8% for most-similar forces.  


Secondly, knife crime is a big source of concern to our constituents and Londoners.  Across England and Wales, it has gone up by 17% in the last year.  In West Midlands, a comparable force, 18.2%.  In West Yorkshire, 26.8%.  In London we are not happy; it has gone up by 14%.  Again, that is less than the increase you are seeing elsewhere. 


The final one of the three, I will give you an example of is criminal damage and arson.  Criminal damage and arson has gone up across the country by 1.9%.  In London it has gone down by 5.9%.  I am giving you examples of the difference I hope that I have made, compared and contrasted to other parts of the country where the increases have been higher.


Steve O’Connell AM:  I know the Commissioner is going to respond.  I am not sure Londoners would necessarily buy into a narrative that we are doing better than other forces when our levels are very, very high.  I understand that narrative, but I do not think that is probably good enough when we are looking at the figures at the moment.


Commissioner, you may wish to comment.


Cressida Dick CBE QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  I am also not satisfied.  Of course I am not.  I want to bear down relentlessly, particularly in relation to violent crime.  Next year I am really looking for an improvement in our criminal justice outcomes.  There are various areas where I think we should bring even more focus.  With improved understanding and tactics, we can get better.  I am not satisfied.  I do not want to sound complacent.  I am very proud of what my people have been doing.  I think it is relevant that despite the fact that London gets an enormous amount of attention - I completely understand that and I am not complaining about it - actually other big cities are feeling this change very strongly and more than us.  Despite what you say, Steve, in many categories they already have a higher number of offences per head of population. 


The British Crime Survey would tend to suggest that crime is not going up as much as these recorded figures say, but what is of real concern is that serious violence has quite clearly across the country been going up and is going up in most places.  I do not believe it is now in London, and next year we will be trying to force it back down.  I am not satisfied, no. 


Steve O’Connell AM:  Thank you.  You are right to end on that note because serious violence is still the number one issuing concerning Londoners. 


Cressida Dick CBE QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  Absolutely.


Steve O’Connell AM:  I was at a community meeting in Barking, Unmesh’s [Unmesh Desai AM] territory, during the week.  There was a packed audience, who were passionate about it. 


My last point, if I may.  You mentioned, Commissioner, about the MPS turning into a truly modern organisation, embracing technology.  We published a report [Artificial Intelligence: A new Era in Policing] around artificial intelligence (AI) suggesting that perhaps the MPS and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) are somewhat dragging their heels on that particular area.  Would you like to comment, Commissioner, relatively briefly on that?


Cressida Dick CBE QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  I do not think we are dragging our heels.  There are certainly some services in the world that have gone further on some aspects of this than we have.  There are a number of different areas in which we may think, as your report shows, we could use AI, and we have been exploring some of those already.  It is absolutely set out in my strategy for the next five years that we are going to transform so that we are not just a world-leading service in counter-terrorism, public order, neighbourhood policing, whatever it might be, but that we are seen as that in terms of our use of modern technology.  We have a plan for that.  I now have a leadership I have inherited from my predecessor, fantastic people in digital policing who have delivered some great things in the last year, which we will probably talk about later on, in whom I have great confidence.  We are racing along with trying to get the best use of the information we have, allowing the officers at the front line to have the data they need to be able to do their jobs really well with modern techniques, and indeed using, where appropriate, subject to the law and proper ethical frameworks, AI. 


Steve O’Connell AM:  Thank you very much, Chairman.  Thank you.