Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120 - 132)



  Q120  David Davies: It is probably appropriate, then, to make my declaration as a special constable who has done a lot of Section 44 searches. I presume what you are referring to are Section 44(2)s rather than Section 60 or Section 1 case searches. Is that a fair comment?

  Mr Paddick: Section 44 --

  Q121  David Davies: That you say has targeted Muslims?

  Mr Paddick: Section 44, yes.

  Q122  David Davies: I am puzzled by it, genuinely, because the instructions that are given out to all police officers are that you must never, ever target people based on their ethnicity. It might be reasonable to look at rucksacks but that must never ever be done, and a Section 44 is meant to be a random search, not a targeted one. What you are saying, and I do not dispute it but I just want to be clear, is that Section 44s are being used to target one particular community, and you are saying the figures backed up that analysis?

  Mr Paddick: The latest figures for London are that you are twice as likely to be stopped and searched if you are Asian and four times more likely to be stopped and searched if you are Black. I cannot see any other conclusion to be drawn from that other than some police officers are racially stereotyping.

  Q123  David Davies: In order to make a Stop and Search a less blunt instrument, you are obviously aware that if somebody is stopped for a minor offence, a revenue offence, for example, and are being dealt with by process, that in itself does not constitute grounds for a search even if they have warning signals. Would you not think there might be a case for changing the law so that somebody who has warning signals, recent convictions carrying knives or drugs, could be given a quick pat-down type search if they are stopped and they admit an offence that is being dealt with by a process that is not arrestable?

  Mr Paddick: There are two alternatives at the moment. Stop and Account, the issue raised by the Lawrence Inquiry report, and Stop and Search. I think Stop and Search should only be conducted if there is reasonable cause to suspect that the person has something on them at that time. Surely, if somebody is recognised as having a long record of street robbery, they are in an area of high street robbery loitering by a bus stop, then it is appropriate for the police officer to go up and ask them in detail to account for why they are there, what they are doing and so forth, but unless there has been a recent report of a robbery where that person fits a description, or there is some sign of something bulky being carried by them, there is some evidence they might have something on them, then it should not go through to a search.

  Q124  Gwyn Prosser: Mr Paddick, you have been very critical about the health and safety legislation and the way it is applicable to the police. Was that your view when you were a serving police officer and did you make representations about it, and do you want to see that legislation abandoned altogether in respect of the police force, or do you want to see a more general interpretation of the law?

  Mr Paddick: What we need is a common sense approach to the issue, and we had this ridiculous situation whilst I was in the police where we were commending officers for their bravery in circumstances in which the Health and Safety Executive would carry out a prosecution if they knew about the particular case.

  Q125  Gwyn Prosser: How many prosecutions were there?

  Mr Paddick: The law only changed reasonably recently and there was a high profile prosecution, one in particular was of the two previous Commissioners in the Metropolitan Police. I think maybe the Health and Safety Executive have learned from that experience, bearing in mind that the people were acquitted. Yes, the police have to take reasonable precautions in order to protect their staff but they must allow individual operational officers to use their common sense, to judge whether their actions could possibly save a life, for example, and in those circumstances if they wish to take more of a risk, put themselves at risk in order to save a life, then they should be allowed to do that, and that should not result in prosecution of senior officers.

  Q126  Mr Streeter: Mr Paddick, I understand you have put forward crime reduction targets of 5% per annum for the first four years and if you do not hit them you will not stand again as Mayor, so that is 20% over the next four years. Some commentators have suggested this is not really very credible. Do you honestly think those targets are realistic?

  Mr Paddick: They are far more realistic than the current Mayor, Ken Livingstone, who at this time in the election process last time round said he would deliver 50% reduction in crime over the next four years and, as we know, even if we take the rather dubious police recorded crime statistics into account, it is only 17% and not 50%. I think a 5% per year reduction in British crime survey crime—and what we are talking about here is people's experience of crime, not an opinion poll; it is a scientific survey of 2500 Londoners carried out every year, and is seen by most academics to be the most reliable measure of crime over time—is realistic.

  Q127  Ms Buck: Following that up, you earlier talked about perverse and unintended consequences of targets. If you are setting a 20% overall target, is there not a real risk then that you and the staff for whom you are responsible will aim to achieve that numerical target without necessarily focusing on priorities for Londoners, and how would you avoid that?

  Mr Paddick: Because the British Crime Survey is actually a survey of Londoners where they ask people: "Have you been a victim of crime over the last 12 months?", it provides an incentive for the police to concentrate on those offences that are most affecting Londoners.

  Q128  Ms Buck: Numerically?

  Mr Paddick: So it is the only target that it is realistic to set. The fact is, if the public have more confidence in the police, which we hope to achieve, you could see recorded crime going up because you will not have the situation we have at the moment where a significant number of Londoners do not report crime to the police because they do not think the police will take it seriously, or they do not think it is worth it, or a lot of people in deprived areas, for example, do not have insurance so there is no point in getting a crime number in order to support their insurance claim. So British Crime Survey reduction is the only measure, and in fact it was one adopted by governments some years ago. When the recorded crime figures were going up they decided to base police crime reduction targets on British Crime Survey crime, but of course now we are in a situation where police recorded crime is going down Government has abandoned the British Crime Survey in favour of recorded crime.

  Q129  Ms Buck: I still wonder if that has not missed the point because it is still a global numerical target that does not allow you the flexibility then to focus on what might be the priority concerns rather than just chasing numbers. But let me ask you one other question. You propose to chair the Metropolitan Police Authority. What would be the advantage of that for Londoners?

  Mr Paddick: Unlike the Mayor who claimed that 50% of the Police Authority were Assembly members, a third are Assembly members, a third magistrates and a third independent elected members. The advantage is I know the inside track. With the best will in the world, with fewer members of the Metropolitan Police Authority than you have boroughs in London, they do not know and they cannot examine in detail the way the police are functioning. I know exactly how the police functions: I know exactly the methods to present the best gloss on things, and I will not be misled in the way that the Metropolitan Police Authority has from time to time been misled.

  Q130  Mrs Dean: Do you agree with Mr Johnson that neighbourhood crime mapping should be published?

  Mr Paddick: At the moment whatever borough you live in in London it is possible for you, either interactively or by going to the monthly police community consultative group meeting, to find out exactly what the crime levels are in your particular borough. I think if you go down to, if it is published globally, what the crime figures are, say, on a ward basis, there is the danger of stigmatising particular areas of London, both in terms of creating ghettoes where only the poorest people would choose to live if it is shown to be a crime hotspot, and, as we know, the poor are disproportionately victims of crime, and in terms of house prices and so forth. There are lots of downsides to it. In fact, neighbourhood watch groups who currently exist publish to their members what crimes have been taking place locally in order that people can take necessary precautions and keep their eyes open. I do not think publishing that data so that the Evening Standard can pick it up and publish a map with different shades of red on it is going to be advantageous to anybody.

  Q131  David Davies: The British Crime Survey does not include crimes involving children or property, does it, and it has been recently criticised for this by the Chief Constable of British Transport Police. How can you say that it is more valid than an opinion poll?

  Mr Paddick: What Ian Johnson said was that it was not a comprehensive measure of crime but it is a good surrogate for crime levels generally, and the most accurate measure of crime over time. It does include property crime but not crime against people under the age of 16.

  Q132  David Davies: Shoplifting?

  Mr Paddick: Shoplifting is a type of property crime that is not included. It is about the crimes that affect residents rather than businesses.

  Chairman: Mr Paddick, thank you for giving evidence to us today; it has been very helpful.

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