Working with the Government to Achieve a Public Health Approach to Violent Crime (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
December 20, 2018
Question By: 
Joanne McCartney
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Mr Mayor, thank you for the work you are doing to tackle violent crime.  The VRU is going to make really great headway, but residents in my constituency were really concerned recently because ‑ to tackle this, you really need the buy‑in from the local community ‑ the MPS had released some information that they were proposing some armed patrols in residential areas.  Understandably, that has caused great concern.

Did you have concerns about that because I believe they has been inadequate consultation?  Secondly, do you understand that such patrols may increase fear and distrust rather than provide reassurance if they are done incorrectly?


Working with the Government to Achieve a Public Health Approach to Violent Crime (Supplementary) [2]

Working with the Government to Achieve a Public Health Approach to Violent Crime (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I would be concerned if armed patrols became routine and part and parcel of policing in London.  That is not how we police.  We never have and I hope we never have to.


We have seen in the last few years an increased amount of armed response units (ARUs) and armed responsive vehicles (ARVs).  That is very different from armed patrols.  We police by consent.  Police officers are peace officers.  They are there to keep the peace.  I do not want them carrying firearms routinely.


If it was the case that the police were considering for operational reasons to increase the number of police officers who are on our streets with firearms other than the ARVs and ARUs, there would have to be public consultation because it would, in my view, change the dynamic.  You have alluded to public confidence, but we know that your response to a police officer may be very different if they are armed than it would be if they are unarmed.  That is why ‑ a big if ‑ if this was being considered, we would need to make sure we do it properly.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Have you made that clear to the Commissioner [of Police of the Metropolis, Cressida Dick CBE QPM]?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes.  To give the Commissioner her dues, as a consequence of a meeting of the [London Assembly] Police and Crime Committee and questions raised by Assembly Member Duvall, the Commissioner understands the public disquiet there would be.


She was making a different point, which is that there have been examples ‑ and it is really important to explain this ‑ where there has been an incident, often tragically leading to a death, where the police turn up and an ARV turns up and members of the public may have seen officers around the scene with firearms.  They may have gone a bit away from the vehicle but they need to be near their vehicle because they could be called away elsewhere.  She was explaining that, as we have had more of the Violent Crime Task Force, there may have been an increased presence.


I will just say this also.  The police are joined up and so you do not need to have the Violent Crime Task Force here, the ward police officer here, ARVs there, Trident there, the dogs team there and the air team there.  They do work together and so Londoners will see when it comes to individual instances the police team working together, which may involve Londoners seeing officers with firearms.