MQT on 2018-11-22
Session date: 
November 22, 2018
Question By: 
David Kurten
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Do you agree with Commissioner Cressida Dick that police should focus on burglary and acts of violence, rather than recording misogyny and other ‘hate incidents’? 




Answered By: 
The Mayor

Thank you, Chairman.  I agree with the Commissioner that tackling violent crime should be our number one priority and it is.  That is why, despite massive cuts from central Government, we have set up a new dedicated Violent Crime Task Force, tackling violent crime in the worst-affected areas, and it is why we are setting up a new Violence Reduction Unit, which will bring the police and City Hall together with local councils, charities, the NHS, community groups and others to continue our public health approach to tackling violent crime.


However, your question is based on two false premises.  Firstly, there are no plans for the MPS to start recording incidents of misogyny.  Secondly, where there is hate there is often violence.  Tackling hate crime is not simply a nice-to-have; it is also crucial to ensuring safe communities.  It is right that hate crime is a priority in the London Police and Crime Plan and that we are taking a zero-tolerance approach to hate.


We have seen big spikes in hate crime in recent years with unacceptable levels of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, attacks on London’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender plus community and other racist attacks.  We know this is having a big impact on some communities in London who are feeling victimised because of who they are, what they believe or who they love.  This is simply not good enough and we must work to bring this to an end.  London is a place where we celebrate, cherish and embrace diversity, and we must seek to stamp out hate crime and continue to send a clear message that we will never let our city be divided by individuals who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life.


Of course, we all know that demand on the MPS has been increasing at the same time as resources have been going down following massive cuts from the Government.  We now have 3,000 fewer police officers, over 3,000 fewer Police Community Support Officers and nearly 6,000 fewer staff.  This means the Commissioner [Cressida Dick CBE QPM] and I are having to make tough decisions on the priorities.  With these difficult decisions we must ensure that those who are the most vulnerable and at-risk within our society such as those who are ill, frail, children or victims of high-harm crimes are prioritised, and this includes victims of hate crime, which can be devastating for the victims as well as the wider community.


David Kurten AM:  Thank you for your answer, Mr Mayor.  I do appreciate you saying that tackling violent crime is going to be your priority and everyone would agree with that, but I think you misunderstood my question because I was talking about hate incidents, not hate crime.  Of course any violent crime whatever the motivation - murder, knife crime, stabbing - needs to be tackled, absolutely, but there has been a very widely reported freedom of information request asking the MPS about hate incidents and how much time has been spent dealing with those things.  We have things that have been reported, investigated and filed away such as a dog fouling someone’s doorstep.  That has been classed as a hate incident.  We have a disputed line call in a tennis match and a man telling library staff he was campaigning for Brexit.  Then, widely reported earlier in the summer in August [2018], the former Foreign Secretary [The Rt Hon] Boris Johnson [MP] made a witty joke about the burqa looking like a letterbox.  That was then investigated and Commissioner Cressida Dick [CBE QPM] had to question to see whether that was a hate crime or not.


All of these things that I have just mentioned are trivial incidents; they are obviously not crimes.  I do appreciate you talking about serious incidents, but is it time that you and Commissioner Dick [CBE QPM] gave the message to the public not to report trivial incidents like this, which are obviously not crimes, because they waste police time?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Could I just make this point?  You have asked a long question.  If you are somebody who on a regular basis is having faeces pushed through your letterbox because of the colour of your skin or on a regular basis has racists having their dogs fouling your front doorstep because of the colour of your skin, it has a deep impact on you.  That regular experience of being a victim of those events can be quite upsetting.  It could be also because of your sexuality.  It could be because you have a disability.  It could be for another reason.


I know you are not intentionally seeking to trivialise those sorts of incidents.  But I know people have suffered these sorts of racist incidents with faeces put through their letterboxes and on their doorsteps on a regular basis intentionally because of the colour of their skin.  I have also had examples, which may seem trivial, of graffiti sprayed outside places of worship and where people live, which can be upsetting for the individual and can send a ripple of hate through that entire community.  That is why some of these crimes are called ‘message crimes’.  They are sending a message to anybody who is of similar ethnicity, similar faith or similar sexuality or has a disability that they are also targeted by this.


Of course the police will prioritise those crimes that are the most serious and of course there is a distinction between reporting a crime and the police investigating, but we do want to live in a city where people are not treated this way.


David Kurten AM:  I do accept your answer on that one incident that I mentioned, but there are other things such as telling library staff someone was campaigning for Brexit.  That is not any kind of crime at all.  For something that is that trivial, would you tell members of the public, “Do not report that because it is wasting police time”?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  All I will say is that the police will give those sorts of incidents the attention they deserve, which is not a lot of time bearing in mind the priorities the police have in relation to violent crime.  It is worth distinguishing an incident from a crime and there is a definition of what a hate crime is and the police are quite clear on what a hate crime is versus an incident.  You are right and I think you are trying to distinguish it, too, between somebody reporting an incident that is not a crime, clearly, and a hate crime that should be investigated.  The police know the difference.


That is what both [Chief Constable] Sara Thornton [CBE QPM, Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC)] and Cressida Dick [CBE QPM, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis] were trying to say where they recently spoke about this.  The police, when they have finite resources and are having to ration their time even more so than before, will always distinguish serious crime versus incidents.


David Kurten AM:  OK.  Thank you, Mr Mayor.