Future Challenges for policing in London (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
November 1, 2018
Question By: 
Leonie Cooper
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Leonie Cooper AM:  I would like to stay on the subject of resources, if I may. 


Before I turn to that, I just wanted to say something and to echo Assembly Member O’Connell.  I meet regularly with Sally Benatar, who is the South West Basic Command Unit Commander, and with her predecessors, Richard Smith, Peter Laverick, Steve Wallace and so on.  They will be absolutely fantastic, and I can see the work that is being done just in that area of transformation, let alone all the stuff around new technology and increased use of 101.  The police are really stepping up and I feel really confident that you have some excellent officers who are really pushing through in quite an intense period of change. 


It makes it really hard for them that it is all being done in the context of very constrained resources, and that is something that has continuously come up since I was elected in May 2016, that resources are very small.  I noted what you said to the Home Affairs Select Committee, which was that we see a huge rise in expectations and demand that is putting a massive strain on our people, and it cannot go on without hard choices being made: either more money comes in, or the money is smaller, or we have to have a greater appetite for risk.


I would like to ask the Mayor, after the really bitter disappointment of the budget, do you agree with the Commissioner that we need to move in one of those three directions?


Answer for Future Challenges for policing in London (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Future Challenges for policing in London (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes.  Can I say this?  I say this without wishing to flatter the Commissioner.  I cannot imagine an incoming Commissioner having a tougher set of circumstances than she has had.


Leonie Cooper AM:  Agreed.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We know as politicians the increased demands constituents place upon us.  Rightly so.  The same goes more so with police officers, and they are no longer the port of last call.  They are the port of first call for many issues: mental health issues and other issues that they are having to grapple with.  One of the jobs that the Commissioner has to do is to advise me how she can best manage workloads that her and her officers have to do with fewer resources.  I have to rely upon the expert advice from the Commissioner and her team because I am a politician.  I am not trained in this area.  We do not have an American system where amateurs try to do policing.  It is really important that the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, works very closely with the Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioners, but I rely upon the advice the Commissioner gives me. 


The description of her phrase as “traditional policing” is I think right.  Our priority has to be violent crime, our priority has to be dealing with victims compassionately and encouraging them to come forward, but it needs tough choices.  The Commissioner and myself are having to ration finite, diminishing resources in the way we think best addresses the needs of our city.


Leonie Cooper AM:  Can I ask you, Commissioner, what might “smaller mission” look like for London?


Cressida Dick CBE QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  What we have seen is a huge increase in, for example, reports of certain types, as you are well aware, in a doubling and tripling of domestic violence reporting.  Probably not an increase in the prevalence at that rate, but nevertheless.  The indecent images online and other online crimes rising almost exponentially.  The volume of data that we have to wrestle with to do an investigation digitally, and then to be able to disclose that effectively in a court process.  I could go on.  I am not wringing my hands here; I am not moaning; it is what is happening.  It is happening around us. 


Some of those things we have very little discretion about, and others we probably have more discretion about.  We are undoubtedly, on occasions, substituting for other public services, and I am beginning to take a harder and harder line on what we do there and where we do it.  I do some of that with a heavy heart, but I actually think that the police are being asked to do functions that we are not as well skilled for.  It is not appropriate for us.  To get back to the priority and the core, we will have to stop doing some of that.


You are very well aware that we deal with, in terms of investigation, probably proportionately more and better than the rest of the country, but we deal with a very low proportion of frauds.  Online fraud in particular has been increasing hugely.  I have no intention of increasing the numbers of those that we deal with.  I fear that every single person around this room will have some issue which is very close to their heart, which if I had all the resources in the world I would do more of and I would do better, but the mission has been getting wider and wider.  New things like online child sexual exploitation and child sexual exploitation generally are very important.  Risk management and safeguarding in a way we never dreamed of five years ago.  We do have to make some hard choices and I am staring down the barrel of several of them as we speak.  That is why I can be, if you like, criticised for not doing A or B to the platinum standard. 


Caroline [Pidgeon OBE AM] did not go any further with response [times], but I have no intention of trying to improve our response times further.  I think they are good.  I am very happy with them.  There are many people who think they should be better.  I do not see lives being put at risk.  I am not going to put further effort into that. 


I could go on.  Policing has always had to make hard choices.  We have always had to flex and surge.  If something terrible happened out there now, as you know, the MPS would just change shape immediately and respond to it, and we are doing that all the time. 


Leonie Cooper AM:  I think that the reduction in police spending has been unfair on Londoners.  I could ask you more, Commissioner and Mr Mayor, but I will leave it there.