Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 115 - 119)



  Q115  Chairman: Thank you very much for coming. I will not start with my long introduction as to why we are here, because I saw you sitting at an earlier session and we do also have the Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority and the Deputy Commissioner to follow you this morning. How do you see the challenges of the next few years for London? Do you think that London has the capacity, or the capability, of dealing with counter-terrorism, the forthcoming Olympics and the overall level of crime?

  Mr Paddick: I think if there is a change in approach from the police in London then the capacity might be sufficient if there is additional administrative support. At the moment, as has been discussed this morning, we have PCSOs who spend 75% of their time out on the streets; we have fully fledged police officers who are spending 30-40% of their time in the police station. If we were able to provide sufficient administrative support in the police station, we could actually release a lot of those police officers' time to increase their visible presence on the street. PCSOs do have their uses and, unlike Mr Johnson, in fact there are different sorts of PCSOs already existing. There are security PCSOs, there are transport PCSOs as well as community PCSOs, so they have their uses, but they are not as useful as fully fledged police officers. Indeed, when we are talking about counter-terrorism, whether we are talking about gun and knife crime, the use that PCSOs have is very limited. Administrative support to release police officer time out on to the street is one way of doing it; the other is to get back to the essence of British policing, which is policing by consent.

  Q116  Chairman: You know that Sir Ronnie Flanagan has produced his report, and you have obviously come across him in your previous life as a borough commander. Do you think there is too much emphasis on additional police officers as opposed to the better use of police officers, which is what Sir Ronnie was talking about?

  Mr Paddick: I think we can make police officers far more effective in the job they do: we can raise their moral and motivation, if we get civilian support to do the mundane paper work for them. For example, if we allow police officers to radio in or telephone in their crime reports whilst they are at the scene of a crime to a professional keyboard operator in the police station, rather than making the police officer go back to the police station and use two fingers to make up the crime report.

  Q117  Chairman: And when you were Borough Commander, were you able to properly use the resources you had, or did you feel there were restrictions coming from the Home Office and others to prevent you from doing that?

  Mr Paddick: The problem with the Home Office was nationally imposed targets, some of which were having perverse outcomes. For example, in terms of offences brought to justice, I am sure the Committee will realise that it is one point on the score board for a complex case of murder which might take 18 months to investigate and six months to try in court, provided there is a conviction that counts as one offence brought to justice, and a cannabis warning that takes 20 minutes to deal with on the street which counts as exactly the same under current Home Office targets. Clearly that is a nonsense, and clearly it is distorting what the police are concentrating on. If we are to rebuild that contract between the police and the public, the police must be free to be able to concentrate on what is most important to local people.

  Q118  Mr Winnick: Recognising, Mr Paddick, that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are no less opposed to terrorism than ourselves, you however said that when you look at the Stop and Search figures under the Terrorism Act they are massively directed towards Muslims. Is that surprising any more than when the IRA was conducting its policy of terror in Britain? Presumably the police were looking for what they considered to be people?

  Mr Paddick: But this is the problem we have had in the past with the Caribbean community and robbery; it is the same problem now with terrorism, whether in the past with Irish terrorism, now with so-called Islamic terrorism, although I find that term a little contradictory in terms of what the Muslim faith portrays. The fact is the tiniest minority of Asian people are involved in terrorism, and therefore for the police to target Asian-looking people for Stop and Search is a nonsense. We know from the atrocities that have been carried out in London already that the bombs that have been used so far have been carried in large rucksacks, so if there is a particular alert, if there is particular intelligence that an attack might be imminent, would it not be more sensible to be stopping and searching people carrying large rucksacks, rather than people who have a particular ethnic appearance?

  Q119  Mr Winnick: Did you give that advice when you were a senior commander in the Metropolitan Police?

  Mr Paddick: I even submitted a 12-page report on how Stop and Search could be made far more accurate and far less discriminatory. It never got past my boss and was never considered by the Commissioner and his top team because any report considered by them has to go through your boss.

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