Delivering the Mayor's manifesto [7]

Session date: 
February 7, 2019
Question By: 
Unmesh Desai
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London) & Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner, Transport for London)


Unmesh Desai AM: I have two sets of questions to put to you, Mr Mayor, but the Commissioner might wish to come in.


My first question is what type of crime on the transport network.  The latest crime statistics bulletin shows an “upward trend in violence/serious public order offences on the Tube, DLR and London Underground”.  On 18 January [2019] through the media I was told that violent crime on the London Underground has risen by more than 43% in the past three years.


Let us put those figures into context.  This was not good news, but it should be noted that this still only means there is a 1-in-500,000 chance of being a victim of violent crime on the Tube and so it is still unlikely, but that is not of consolation to people who have been the subject of crime on the Tube.


Mr Mayor, what are you going to say about this worrying trend and, more importantly, what steps are the police taking to reverse this upward trend?


Delivering the Mayor's manifesto [7]

Delivering the Mayor's manifesto [7]

Answered By: 
Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London) & Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner, Transport for London)

Sadiq Khan (Chair, Transport for London):  Firstly, you are right.  If you are the victim of crime, it is no consolation to you that crime is also going up across England and Wales.  It is no consolation to you that crime is also going up across the national rail.  You are a victim.


There are a number of things that we are doing.  TfL contributes a large sum of money to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), to the British Transport Police (BTP) and to the City of London Police to help keep the transport network as safe as we possibly can.  We have also encouraged more commuters to report crimes that in the past they may not have reported.  Report It To Stop It is just one example of one of the campaigns we have to encourage people to report crime.  I am very encouraged, for example, by the fact that more women and girls are now reporting some of the unwarranted sexual attention - often crimes - that they are the victims of as a consequence our campaign.


I am not explaining the increase just by more confidence amongst commuters, but one of the things that Mike speaks regularly with the BTP, the MPS and the City of London [Police] about is high-visibility policing.  The Night Tube and the Night Overground have seen a large police presence as well.  I will let the Commissioner give details of other things we are doing.


Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner of Transport for London):  Yes.  I would just echo what the Mayor said: any crime committed on the public transport network is one too many and I absolutely acknowledge the effect it has on the victims of those crimes.  That is why it is really important that we do encourage people to report even what might be seen as low-order crimes, pickpocketing, the theft of mobile phones, some of the issues that unfortunately do happen on the transport network.  However, again, you are quite right to use the figures about the overall risk of crime on the networks as being very low.


The Mayor is quite right to say that the encouragement of reporting crime, particularly Project Guardian, which is the reporting of sexual offences on the Tube and bus networks, has been a very effective means of highlighting this previously hugely under‑reported and very serious crime that was committed that simply was not getting properly addressed previously.  I have had some very positive discussions both with Cressida Dick, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and with Paul Crowther, Chief Constable of the BTP, and colleagues also speaking with the City of London Police on those very issues.  We will continue with that dialogue.


We continue, of course, to fund the MPS Enforcement Unit and the BTP for their forces in London on the Underground and the Overground networks and we will continue with that commitment.  It is very important to me that we work with them on strategies for deployment.  As the Mayor said, the most important thing we can do is to have proper visible policing and to follow up when crimes are reported so that we bring people to justice.


Unmesh Desai AM:  Both of you, Mr Mayor and Commissioner, talked about, quite rightly, the work that the BTP does with the City of London Police and the MPS.  TfL provides almost one-quarter of the BTP’s funding.


Mr Mayor, how do you - or, more specifically, given your many other commitments, how does your Deputy Mayor - work with the BTP to ensure that this money is spent in the best possible way for Londoners and that we are getting value for money?  Presumably there are regular meetings, performance indicators and so on.  Can you give us an idea?


Sadiq Khan (Chair, Transport for London):  You are correct.  Mike’s team meets regularly with the Chief Constable of the BTP.  Just to remind you, the BTP is responsible for the national rail network but clearly has a locus in London as well.  You will know of the phenomenon of ‘county lines’.  Often these young children are using transport networks to go around the country.  The National Crime Agency (NCA) is also working closely with the police services, including the BTP, to make sure there is some co‑ordination taking place there.


In addition to the regular meetings the Commissioner and his team have with the Chief Constable of BTP, he came along to a meeting with transport trade union representatives to talk to them about some of the steps they are taking.  You will be aware - because I know you have raised this with me outside of the Assembly - of the concerns you have around staff being assaulted as well.  BTP will also look into those issues.


It is worth reminding you that the MPS and the City of London Police also assist the BTP in the work that they do.  I have been impressed - and I did not realise this before I became the Mayor - by the amount of co‑ordination there is between those three police forces, which is encouraging for Londoners.


Unmesh Desai AM:  I must say - and this was quite some time ago, nearly two years ago - that when I went to Palestra House I was very impressed with some of the systems in place.


If I move to my next question, in your manifesto commitment you did talk about tackling violence against women and girls on public transport.  I am glad that there has been a welcome increase in reporting.  If people do not report, we cannot do much.  You are delivering on that particular commitment and I commend you for that.


My next question is about the Safer Junctions programme.  In 2017, Mr Mayor, you said:


“Transport for London will publish the first annual progress report for the Safer Junctions programme in spring 2018.”


That was some six months ago.  TfL has told me that this has not happened due to “a new system to capture collision data” that has used by the MPS since November 2016 and has “resulted in an increase in the number of collisions being classified as ‘serious’ rather than ‘slight’”.


When will you have resolved this issue, Mr Mayor, and be able to publish a progress report?  Commissioner, if you want come in, this is a more technical question.


Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner of Transport for London):  You are quite right that this is a difference in the classification of the way the MPS has reported incidents and how it has given us the data.  That is still being worked through.  I do not have an actual date when that will be resolved.


I would just though give you an assurance because the most important issue is that it is not stopping us dealing with Safer Junctions.  The amount of work we are doing to improve safety on junctions, even those junctions where we do not have a permanent fix in place, we are taking immediate mitigation measures to ensure that we put in place some initial safer measures at the junctions concerned that we believe are the highest risk of incidents or accidents occurring.  Although we are still waiting for the clarification from the MPS as to when we can have that accurate data, it has not stopped us in the delivery that we are continuing to provide.


Unmesh Desai AM:  I note what you have said, but TfL has been able to offer some initial observations on the number of collisions.  Overall there has been a 25% collision saving across all locations from 403 to 300.  I can give you some examples: a 55% reduction in collisions at the Elephant and Castle northern roundabout and a 57% reduction at St George’s Circus.


Commissioner, do you expect similar such reductions to continue across other junctions that TfL is making safer?


Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner of Transport for London):  Yes, I do and, Chairman, through you, if I may say, the whole approach to Vision Zero and to ensuring that we are properly cognisant of every single issue that happens on our road network is continuing to evolve hugely.


The Mayor and I under the Mayor’s leadership hosted a session last week with some relatives and survivors of some issues on London’s road network.  We both find it an incredibly powerful and moving discussion.  I was delighted that people felt able to contribute to inputting what junction improvements might be needed at places where they had suffered or unfortunately where they had ended up being bereaved as a result of an incident.  The whole issue of personalising statistics is hugely important for me.  These are real human beings with real lives and real families who are affected by death or serious injury on our road network.


I was very pleased to see that the number of fatalities had fallen last year, but over 4,000 incidents of death and serious injury on London’s road network is still far too high.  We are aiming for zero.


We will continue to make progress on that account and the effort that we have put in to Safer Junctions and to ensuring that the Direct Vision Standard, for example, is fully implemented.  We have recently had sign-off from the European Commission on that, I am delighted to say.  All of the work that we are doing is so important to ensure that we continue to ensure cyclists and pedestrians are safe as they move around our city streets, and so we continue with that approach across all junctions where we think there is a risk.


Unmesh Desai AM:  I will finish on this note.  I have often been critical, as have many other Members sometimes, over the TfL correspondence handling and dealing with stakeholders and so on, but I must say that over the last year I have raised three issues about junctions, Mile End junction in particular - Mile End junction outside Mile End Station is the worst spot in Tower Hamlets in terms of recorded collisions, fatalities and so on - Burdett Road further east and outside Stepney Green Tube Station.  The response of your officers, some of them junior officers, has been really good.


Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner of Transport for London):  Thank you.


Sadiq Khan (Chair, Transport for London):  Thank you.