Future Challenges for policing in London

Meeting: 
Plenary on 2018-11-01
Session date: 
November 1, 2018
Reference: 
2018/2951
Question By: 
Unmesh Desai
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Answer

Answer for Future Challenges for policing in London

Answer for Future Challenges for policing in London

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Chairman.  The biggest challenge facing the future of policing in London is the combination of rising demand alongside continued cuts.  At the start of this week the Government had the opportunity to use the budget to announce more funding for the MPS.  With Government claims of an end to austerity we all had high hopes that we might see an end to the massive cuts to our police service, but it is now clear that the Home Secretary’s warm words about prioritising police funding were just that: warm words with no action. 

 

From City Hall I am investing a record amount in the MPS, an extra £138 million, but compared to £1 billion worth of cuts from the Government this is just a drop in the ocean.  It is not just crime that has driven an increase in demand on policing.  Cuts to local authorities, health, social care and youth services also mean that policing, as the service of last resort, is being forced to pick up the pieces. 

 

Our hardworking police officers and staff are doing everything they can to respond to these increases in demand.  We cannot escape the fact that we now have the lowest number of officers since 2003 and the lowest number of police officers per head in 20 years.  This means that the MPS is going to have to continue making hard choices about how it prioritises its work.  I will continue to support the Commissioner in making the tough but right choices based on the evidence, such as the transfer of 122 officers from the road traffic command into the City Hall-funded Violent Crime Taskforce. 

 

Added to this, in five months’ time the UK is due to leave the European Union (EU).  With time rapidly running out, the Government is leading us towards two possibilities: either a bad Brexit deal or, worse still, no deal at all.  Both of these scenarios could have dire consequences for the security of our city.  Crashing out of the EU without a deal would not only mean unravelling the legal framework of co-operation with the EU but would also impact the MPS’s everyday operations.  That is why we are ensuring that the MPS is fully engaged in Brexit planning, and that is why we are working to understand the implications of a no-deal Brexit on policing across London. 

 

Unmesh Desai AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  Two questions, one of you Commissioner and then if I can come to you, Mr Mayor. 

 

Commissioner, you have talked about looking forward to the future, but let us look forward to 2019 and I will not go too far into the future.  I want to ask you about your approach to policing both philosophically and operationally, because obviously one depends on the other.  In the last 24 hours you have had two forceful interventions by two of your colleagues.  Lynne Owens [Director-General] of the National Crime Agency (NCA) talked about 4,600 gangs costing the UK economy some £37.3 billion a year, a 50% rise over the last five years, a problem worse than terrorism.  She said that earlier this year as well.  And more of the same was said yesterday. 

 

Then you had Sara Thornton (CBE, QPM, Chair, NPCC) talking again this morning or prioritising what she calls core policing issues over “deserving” issues.  Now, you talked about traditional values in your opening statement to us earlier this morning, so what are your traditional values?  Are they those of Sara Thornton?  Can you expand on your views?  In particular, in light of your approach and your views, how would you then take that into giving proper support and training to your officers to tackle the challenges that they face?

 

Cressida Dick CBE QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  Thank you.  When I talked about traditional values what I meant was policing by consent, I meant local policing, and I meant in particular our core values of courage, of professionalism, of integrity and of compassion.  That is quite historic and

old-fashioned in a sense, but I am contrasting that with the need to be very modern in our approach and in particular in our use of technology.  You will know what we have done in the last few years in relation to that and what is coming this year probably, Unmesh.

 

In terms of the focus and the priority, I set it out when I arrived, saying violent crime is too high in London and that will be my priority.  I define it broadly from terrorism through to sexual offences and child protection and street violence, of course, and domestic abuse, but violent crime will remain the priority.  I have said already that I think we should improve our criminal justice outcomes.  I absolutely agree with Sara [Thornton].  There has never been a fag paper between us on this, and if you have listened to things I have said over the years, I have absolutely said this.  When I arrived, I said we are not going to be investigating people who are deceased unless there is prima facie a conspiracy in which other people are still alive.  We have not been going back and investigating the past.

 

Unmesh Desai AM:  To interject, Commissioner, because I am limited for time - sorry to interrupt - I am sure that you and Sara and other people talk to one another almost every day.

 

Cressida Dick CBE QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  We do.  Yes.  I am with Sara.  That is probably the quick way to answer it. 

 

Unmesh Desai AM:  I knew what your answer would be. 

 

Coming to you, Mr Mayor, the Assembly passed a motion which I proposed, in fact, unanimously asking you to write to the Home Office to ask for a fair and funded pay rise for police officers.  However, police officers in London will receive a real-terms pay cut for this year after the Home Secretary rejected the independent Police Remuneration Review Body’s recommendations on police pay.  The Commissioner described this as a “punch on the nose for police officers”.  How do you propose taking this campaign forward both in terms of police pay - and again, I proposed a motion to the Assembly on police pay - and then cuts?  What new directions are you thinking of?  Very specifically, as reported in yesterday’s Guardian and other papers, a proposed police challenge to the Treasury calculation of the money each force pays into the police pension scheme.  Can I ask you, Mr Mayor, will you support this legal challenge just like you are supporting the Heathrow legal challenge, or will you consider supporting this challenge by the police to the attack on their pension scheme?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chairman, it is very difficult to answer a long, complex, multifaceted question in brevity.  I will do my best. 

 

It is just worth understanding that the police are very different from most employees or workers in the country.  They do not have the same employment rights to go on strike, protest about pay and conditions, and so on.  It is for that reason the Government decided to have a Police Remuneration Review Body.  It is an independent body.  They make a recommendation.  The expectations were that the Government would accept the recommendations and fund the recommendations.  I am afraid the Government has not accepted the recommendations of this body, and that is one of the reasons why the Commissioner and myself are worried about the morale of our police service and worried about how much stretch we can have from them when they are under-resourced.  They are cancelling rest days.  They are cancelling leave.  Of course, I am concerned to make sure we give them the support they need, and that includes a decent pay and a decent pension. 

 

In relation to the pension changes, the reason why it is of such concern to chief constables and those in senior positions is the choice they have to make is to fund the pension contributions as an employer versus police officer numbers.  It is a straightforward equation in relation to the contribution they have to make.  I am hoping the Government will consider funding the additional employer contributions that police forces across the country are now being told they have to pay.