Gangs Violence Matrix and Black Londoners

MQT on 2018-12-20
Session date: 
December 20, 2018
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold OBE
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


The recent findings of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) criticised the Gangs Violence Matrix noting its detrimental effect on those whose data it contains. Can you reassure Londoners that the Metropolitan Police Service report into the Gangs Violence Matrix will look honestly at the issues raised by Amnesty International and the ICO to ensure significant positive change in implementation?


Answer for Gangs Violence Matrix and Black Londoners

Answer for Gangs Violence Matrix and Black Londoners

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Thank you, Chairman.  In our system of policing by consent, it is vital that we maintain a balance between giving the police the powers and tools they need to keep people safe and ensuring that liberties and rights are protected.  My review is part of that process, bringing greater transparency to a vital issue and ensuring that all the different viewpoints are heard and the evidence of the impact of the matrix is reviewed.


The Gangs Matrix has to be proportionate and command confidence, particularly among young black Londoners, who are among the many who have expressed concerns.  That is why I made it a manifesto commitment to review the Gangs Matrix.  The ICO found that whilst there was a valid purpose for the MPS Gangs Matrix ‑ namely to tackle the unacceptable levels of violence we are seeing in the capital ‑ the processes were not being applied consistently and data protection principles had been contravened.  It is important that the MPS has tools available to tackle violence.  Those who commit violent crime, whether in gangs or not, need to feel the full force of the law, but the ICO’s enforcement notice compels the MPS to comply with data protection laws in the future and gives them six months to make improvements.  These are serious matters, which is why I welcome both the ICO’s findings, which had been worked up with the MOPAC, and the MPS’s response to them.


The MOPAC review will be published soon.  It will be the most authoritative and far‑reaching review of the Gangs Matrix ever undertaken.  A huge amount of work has gone into the MOPAC review of the Gangs Matrix, including analysis of data covering the entire lifespan of the matrix, interviews with the practitioners using it, consultation with affected communities, legal opinion, and the creation of a specialist reference group, which Amnesty International and the ICO have been part of to help guide the work.  The MOPAC review looks at the impacts of the Gangs Matrix, the processes by which it is operated and governed, and its transparency.  In doing so, it explores issues of disproportionality, inconsistency, legality and community perceptions.  I have discussed these issues with the Commissioner [of Police of the Metropolis, Cressida Dick CBE QPM] and I know she takes them seriously.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  As you rightly said, your manifesto of 2016 had a commitment to review the Gangs Matrix.  I remember it well.  I welcomed that commitment and I believed that it was because so many campaigners had raised it ‑ I had certainly raised it and I know colleagues had raised it – when [former] Mayor Johnson [The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP] oversaw the implementation.  Londoners forget that the Mayor is also the elected commissioner of their police and so, when police go wrong, it is going wrong in the name of the Mayor.  That is position many of my constituents take and I take.


When this was brought to your attention and you put it in your manifesto, everybody thought, “Well done.  We will now get clearer guidelines about its implementation and record‑keeping.  We will get a quality impact assessment, which will demonstrate exactly what those two damning reports said: that this had the potential to have a disproportionate effect on young black males”.


Mr Mayor, I have four key questions.  Why did it take so long to start your promised review?  Do you know how many Londoners have been placed on the matrix since 2016?  We did not maybe expect anything much from the previous Mayor, but so many Londoners expected some action from you.  Given that 40% of people listed on the matrix have no record of involvement in any violent offence and 35% have never committed a serious offence, what steps are being taken to rebuild the credibility of the MPS so that Londoners, especially those of black and minority ethnic (BAME) heritage, can have trust in this tainted tool?  You say that the Gangs Matrix is being reviewed and will be released by MOPAC soon.  What sort of timeline does ‘soon’ have in the MOPAC world of things?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chairman, I think I have most of those questions.  If I have not, please come back to me in relation to other questions.


First, Chairman, to put it on record, one of the reasons why my manifesto had a commitment to review the Gangs Matrix was because of lobbying by Assembly Member Arnold and others ‑ and she is right to give credit to others as well ‑ in relation to concerns they had about the Gangs Matrix.  That was not them saying that there is not a need for the police to have this operational tool, but the way it was being implemented was leading to big concerns.


The reason why that is important is ‑ and this affects everyone, by the way, not just the BAME communities ‑ all of us are kept safer by the public having confidence in the police to give them the intelligence.  If some parts of our community have no confidence, they are not going to provide the police with intelligence.  It is simple as that.  Therefore, all of us benefit by there being better confidence between the police and members of all our communities.  I undertook to review the Gangs Matrix and MOPAC has been tasked with doing so.


I have a couple of things in relation to the MOPAC review.  It is the most authoritative review that has ever been undertaken of the Gangs Matrix.  As you said, it goes back a number of years.  In the meantime, because we have been working with the ICO, which has published its review and made a number of recommendations, it has meant that we could allow them to go first.  They have made recommendations and issued an enforcement notice.


The MPS could have, by the way, taken a view, “We are going to challenge this.  We do not accept this”.  The Commissioner [of Police of the Metropolis, Cressida Dick CBE QPM] accepts completely the findings of the ICO and the enforcement notice and the MPS will be publishing equality impact assessments and data impact assessments and the legal mandate that the ICO has asked them to do, and is also taking other measures to address some of the concerns that the ICO made.  By the way, working with MOPAC, the ICO made those concerns.


There is an issue ‑ nobody can argue sensibly ‑ of disproportionality when you look at the numbers involved in relation to the Gangs Matrix.  To give you an idea of the work the reviewers have undertaken, Chairman, they have looked at the entire lifespan of the matrix and that is 7,000 individuals.  That is a big number in relation to the amount of work they have had to do.  They have also surveyed more than a 140 practitioners who use the matrix.  You will be aware, Chairman, that councils, those involved in safeguarding and those involved in public safety have been spoken to.  There has been a separate review group set up, which includes some of the harshest critics of the matrix.  It is not simply talking to those who are on side.  They have to talk to everyone, even those who are not on side, but also take legal opinion as well from a Queen’s Counsel about what steps we can take.


I want the review to be published this year and it will be published this year [2018].  I am not taking a break this Christmas.  It will happen this year.  As soon as I know the exact date I will let you know, but it will be this year.  I know it is 20 December [2018], but it is really important that we publish it as soon as we can.  Is that all the questions?


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  Mr Mayor, I am out of time.  Let me assure you that I have no intention of letting this matter rest and I shall be, with the Chairman’s permission, joining the [London Assembly Police and Crime] Committee meeting on this subject on 10 January [2019].  This is a disgrace.