Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 133 - 159)

TUESDAY 11 MARCH 2008

MR LEN DUVALL AND MR PAUL STEPHENSON

  Q133  Chairman: Mr Duvall, Mr Stephenson, we are extremely grateful to you for coming to give evidence to us today. As you know, we are conducting an inquiry into policing in the 21st century, and I am very keen to start by asking you about community engagement and the expectation of the police. What exercises do you currently undertake in order to engage with local communities?

  Mr Duvall: There are a number of exercises. The Metropolitan Police Service do a number themselves at borough level in territorial policing, that is where we work with London boroughs; jointly with Council they conduct consultation exercises in producing local policing plans; they have Safer Neighbourhood Team panels that develop key individuals in neighbourhoods who they contact and talk to and use as sounding boards, and there is a panel of individuals that they bring together to talk about what the local policing plan on the neighbourhood that is developed over a period of time. They talk to local councillors—they are not part of the panels but they do liaise with local councillors about issues that are occurring within their neighbourhoods. We have a borough-wide mechanism that the Metropolitan Police Authority funds called the Legacy of the Scarman Era of Consultative Groups which we still retain and we are in the process of modernising in terms of the 21st century recognising not just holding the police to account but also the executive role of councils. We run London-wide consultation exercises; we are in the process of doing one across the 32 London boroughs about our asset property portfolio, and in the Metropolitan Police Authority itself we do a number of scrutinies, more recently the one on counter-terrorism involving every aspect of the community and how they feel about counter-terrorism, and more recently one about youth engagement, a very substantial exercise probably involving over a thousand odd people coming through the doors.

  Q134  Chairman: That sounds pretty extensive. Do you feel you are currently meeting the expectations of the people of London?

  Mr Duvall: I think as a Police Authority and at the Metropolitan Police Service in terms of all the survey work and the surveys carried out by others we retain the general confidence of the people in London about policing aspects. There are issues in communities where sometimes we have to regain their confidence, and certain incidences cause that to happen. We work hard at doing that. We know generally in terms of protecting Londoners that, much as we are the No 1 agency in tackling crime in its many forms, from graffiti and everything in between to counter-terrorism which we do both London-wide, nationally, and internationally, we do everything in between, that is what Londoners expect us to do, and basically people on the whole think that we are doing a pretty good job. We are not complacent about that and we enjoy very high confidence levels in doing that, but there are other ways we can check and test that. We are concerned; that is why I think the emphasis in the 21st century is about citizen focus; we have a mission I am constantly exhorting, and the senior management team are in agreement, to explain how we police, without giving the game away, to those who want to cause misery and mayhem to their communities; we have a mission to explain what we do and how we do it, if you come into contact with us, to make sure the public is on side.

  Mr Stephenson: Just to set the context here I will start off by agreeing with my Chair, which is obviously a good thing to do, that we can do a lot better and that is our intention, but if you look at what we are doing at this moment in time and at the very extensive British Crime Survey work that is taking place, and our own public attitude survey work, virtually across the board there is an increase in confidence and satisfaction, and that means we are doing something significantly different. So it is important to set that in context. But even where we have got to it does not mean to say it is where we ought to be in the future. Historically the Metropolitan Police Service has been seen as being very good at delivering on very big jobs, and we have a good record on that, but the Commissioner is on record as saying when we break it down into individual contact we are not always guaranteed to be quite as good, and that is the big mission for the Met, to make sure those daily contacts match the same quality as we deliver on the big jobs. The survey work would indicate there is a significant improvement but we have some way to go.

  Q135  Mr Streeter: London is obviously a great capital city; we have the 2012 Olympics coming up; you are on the front line for the fight against terrorism. Have we the right structures in place, and is there sufficient capacity to overcome these particular challenges?

  Mr Duvall: The structures are beginning to take shape. Certainly inside the Metropolitan Police Service those structures are there. Government is reorganising their bits so they are interfaced with us. It is not just the Olympics that year; there are a number of other significant events that will be considerable challenges. From the policing point of view and in terms of this period leading up to the events the planning and testing for different scenarios is very important, but for us we still need to deliver policing in the capital, in your neighbourhoods, and in the other policing areas in terms of it being affected by Olympic events. So we have to chew gum and walk at the same time, as well as protecting people during this significant eventing issue. Albeit we are going to have to shift the resources around, from the policing point of view we need to do that from a common sense approach. We have learnt many lessons since 9/11 about responses to tragedies around moving police officer assets; we have certainly learnt different lessons in public order, the last one where we were severely tested was Heathrow Airport where we needed to have the capacity to move police officers from their local locations to meet potential challenges, and we think we did that with common sense without ordinary people suffering from a lack of police response.

  Mr Stephenson: I think we have the right structure for this moment in time but the idea that structure should last for ever is fallacious, and I am sure you would agree. We have made recent changes to structure in recent times; I think the Chair has referred to it. We have made significant changes to our counter-terrorism command. We used to have an SO12 and SO13 which was the Intelligence and the Executive action separately. We are now quite clear that that was a structure fit for the past but not for today and we have moved to SO15, a much more dynamic, combined structure. So we have amended that to fit with the new terrorist challenge. We are currently, again with the Police Authority, looking at the structure of the Met in terms of central support. I think we can make some significant savings there. We have to rationalise the way we do business; we have to bring together our financial planning and organisational planning into a seamless piece that means we can save some resources and produce a better product. So we have to constantly look at our structures. The one thing we are clear on, and if the Commissioner was here today I think he would want to make this point, is that the structure that the Met has indicates it is already a regional police service, and the overlaying of delivery of day-to-day policing in the boroughs and the greater empowerment of those borough commanders is hugely important and we are wholly committed to it, but, in the absence of an overlaying of a wider structure to bring in those extra specialist departments and requirements to deal with the more serious end of crime, keeping that together as a cohesive whole is very important to the policing of London.

  Q136  Mr Clappison: On funding, which you have just touched upon, I have to say the whole subject of police funding is not one I find readily comprehensively and I am not sure many others do either, but the Mayor of London has said that the application of a police funding formula as recommended by Sir Ronnie Flanagan would have a negative effect on the policing in London. What is your reaction to that?

  Mr Duvall: There are a couple of issues around funding. My background is in local government --

  Q137  Mr Clappison: You might understand it better than me, then!

  Mr Duvall: It is a bit like SSAs, no one understood that but it did become more transparent as it was developed and if you wanted to understand how you got to the final pounds, shillings and pence, then you could, providing you had a whole year to do it and got there and you could challenge or not challenge. The issue for us about formula funding, of course, is that we will always want more money; there always will be a cap on that money that we can have. At the moment, if the floor is taken away from Metropolitan Police Service there would be severe doubt, it would have to be replaced, and that poses all sorts of problems to central Government because it would have to be a London formula, so I am reconciled to the issues that the protectionism we get is appropriate. The second point I would make about any funding we receive, because we receive funding in a number of ways—the core grant and additional grants for issues like counter terrorism—is please give us some certainty and come in to enable us to plan more effectively, because I think with those non-specific grants it is a matter of having some certainty of when you are going to take a decision rather than delay it, carry it over to the new year, give us it in the autumn if it is reasonable, let us then plan to the budget, and that is more important to us at this moment in time.

  Q138  Mr Clappison: You know this well from what you are saying. Do you think within the constraints of the present system it would be possible for Government to give you more certainty?

  Mr Duvall: Sometimes it is difficult for Government. They have their own timetable which does not always fit into a London timetable, either a mayoral or pre-set timetable that we have to respond to through statutory issues. I think with a bit of goodwill we could. Nobody gets out of bed to make life difficult for each other. Sometimes their timetable is obviously more important than ours. We can get there and get some planning around that. It is the same with Olympic grants. Paul and his colleagues need to do the job, they give you their best shots, but we need some certainty about the money and issues around that so we can get on and plan, and we are getting there with that money. We have recently had it; it would have been nice if it was a bit earlier, but the interface we have with government needs to be sharpened and more focused if we are going to do a good job. We always do the best job we can in the time available, but it is that certainty to be able to get on and plan and take the decisions they need to take in terms of delivering that response you require.

  Q139  Mrs Dean: The Metropolitan Police Authority was judged to be performing only adequately by the Audit Commission in terms of the use of resources. Do you think this was a fair assessment?

  Mr Duvall: Adequately? I think you have to look at it over a period of time. I have been in the job for four years and I value the Audit Commission and their comments and what they measure against. Someone likened it to an exam, are the right questions being asked and are we giving the right responses? The Metropolitan Police Service has 175 years of history; normally it has been always working to the Home Office. There is anecdotal information of how it received its estimates at that time. One thing that has been beneficial with the new governance arrangements in London is that it is much more transparent. If I told you in the year 2000 what my predecessor Toby Harris had to deal with, as well as senior colleagues in the Met, I am used to a local government background in terms of the arrangements but we never had any accountants, I think we probably only had one in the entire Met at that time, and we needed to make our arrangements fit and proper for the 20th century, never mind the 21st century. Over the eight years, year on year, you have seen some good things also said by the Audit Commission who has said there has been some good performance. There are still areas I am not happy with and that the Commissioner and Paul is not happy with, but I am expecting that to improve and I think we can do another step change in those issues. I am confident now about aligning the planning process with the resource process, and confident that we have some of the structures there that we would recognise in a local government setting, and the Audit Commission are confident about some of those structures and procedures. There are problems but we have identified some of those. The famous Amex exposure was one that we found rather than was found for us, and we took the corrective action and still take corrective action around those issues. So I am confident that we are getting better at it but I am not complacent, and certainly we are working hard for it and I hope in the coming year to give a different slant on some of those issues.

  Q140  Mrs Cryer: How does the Met respond to Sir Ronnie Flanagan's proposal for workforce modernisation, and can I specifically ask, because it has been drawn to my attention recently by members of the West Yorkshire force, about better working options to attract women and ethnic minorities?

  Mr Stephenson: Starting with the specific, whilst again there is much more to be done, if we look at our current recruiting, particularly for BEM population, in year we are currently recruiting, I think I am right in saying, something like 21%, and I think 30% are females, which is a significant improvement on previous years—probably unimaginable improvement if you turn the clock back maybe three or four years. We are doubling our rate in numbers of BEM background within the Met. The problem we have is we are a huge organisation and turning round the supertanker and getting ratios to hit the high mark is a long road, so I think the best measure is the in-year rate and the in-year rate is a significant improvement. So we are doing a huge amount around that. I would also say that our own HR department within the Met has been the recipient of numerous awards in terms of innovation and imagination to try and improve on this critical area. In terms of the wider question of Sir Ronnie Flanagan's reforms, we have responded positively and are already doing many things that Sir Ronnie anticipated we should be doing in terms of looking more flexibly and imaginatively at how we use our resources. We must do more in the future because we are facing constrained financial times, and the growth we have enjoyed in recent years has come to an end and we are going to have to make much better use of our resource, so we have to be even more imaginative in the future, but we are approaching that positively. What we would like to see, and this is where we share in West Yorkshire's ambition, is ever more flexibility allowed to us in the way in which we can employ a workforce that matches London's needs.

  Q141  Mrs Cryer: So you think that the flexible working, et cetera, that you have in place now is sufficient to keep your officers with you rather than finishing after a few years?

  Mr Stephenson: We have a very good retention rate, compared with anybody within the industry and policing outside, and something we are proud of. Of course, we always want to make it better. If I say it is not a problem, comparatively it is not a problem at this moment in time. If you ask me am I satisfied there is nothing more we can do? No, of course there is more we can do, but we are pushing the boundaries of the envelope now, and I think we have to keep researching and being more innovative.

  Mr Duvall: I think it is quite clear that people are changing their attitude towards the police service as a career of choice, particularly women and BEM communities. There is a problem with recruitment, slow down is a problem in some ways, but there are some wider issues here. There is flexibility and we are a sensitive employer, and I think we are a premier employer, and I am happy to provide further details in terms of what we do and do not do, but there are wider issues here and principles about policing. Warranted police officers are important, we would all agree, but the shape of policing in the future, and we need to give some confidence to our community and we need to explain this, is that also PCSOs are an important part of policing now, and if I go to the other side most senior officers and borough commanders will say their support staff are. They are all crime fighters; they just do different jobs. The issue for the 21st century is that we all say we want to put policing on the street and I want to put visibility on our streets, but the front line in policing may not be on our streets, it may well be behind a desk, and I think we have to have a bit more of a mature approach about what we try to do. But the issue is using that resource, and we are a labour intensive resource which is why policing costs so much at this moment in time. You have addressed some of these issues in past meetings, and how people are paid and viewed and valued about their work is very important, and they are allied and cannot be separated. In general, we are looking at some of the efficiencies of how you deploy those resources, but equally, and we have both been on public platforms and said this, in the 21st century we seek to remain an unarmed police force. I know it is very difficult in central London to think that is the case, but only 10% of our police officers are generally armed and even with trends as they are and despite all the interest from the press, that is an important principle we should seek to retain, professionally and from a police officer point of view.

  Q142  Chairman: Why did it take Sir Ronnie to tell us there was too much red tape? Surely this was something that officers at a local level could have been involved in at an earlier stage.

  Mr Stephenson: I think Sir Ronnie's addition to the debate has been hugely valuable but I think even he would turn round and say it did not need him to tell us that was the case. A number of people in policing already recognised that, and a number already recognised Sir Ronnie's point concerning risk aversion. I myself as Chief Constable in Lancashire six years ago made a series of speeches to my own people saying: "If you are well-recruited, well-intentioned and well-trained and you think something should be done, I want you to get on with it". So I do not think Sir Ronnie necessarily would say that he came up with it first, but he made a huge addition to that debate by highlighting it and giving it added impetus.

  Q143  Martin Salter: As a Thames Valley MP a lot of my colleagues have concerns about recruitment, and we heard from Boris Johnson earlier that he felt there was no problem with recruitment to the Met and you have just said there is a problem with the slowing down of recruitment. Can you expand on that?

  Mr Duvall: The trouble is there is an issue that even with slow down of recruitment you can be caught out if you have a rush of people leaving, and one of our issues in the coming years and leading up to the Olympics is retaining people with experiences and people who have choices. At the moment it is not a problem but I need to be mindful that some of the work we have been able to undertake in the Metropolitan Police Service is because we have been recruiting up to a number. John Stevens initially said it was 35,000; we have a mix now in the police service with just over 31,000, which is the highest it has ever been in its entire history, with the PCSOs at just under 4,000 I think. The question then for us is we are seeing some results from the ground. Much as we may have doubts there are trends happening around reductions in crime or increased reporting where young people have more confidence, and we want to go out and encourage that and not beat people up if they are coming forward to report issues. There is something happening in our community and we need to drive it further down. What is making the difference? It has to be about some of the investment in Safer Neighbourhood Teams where we have done survey work and seen that driven down; it has to be about some of the work that communities are doing themselves and local councils are helping us do that and other agencies; there is something going on here. We have not quite got to the bottom of it but it is going in the right direction. We can all talk about the flaws in the different recording aspects but there is a general direction in the right way, so we need to build on that. On recruitment issues, everyone knows the debate is can you get more out of police officers used in a certain way and get—not more for less, I am not suggesting Boris is saying that, but is there a different way of using them. That is his argument. My argument is London is slightly special; we need to make sure we keep the numbers up; we need to see how we are using those, but certainly I am very mindful of what it means to boroughs in the outer area. I have had conversations with the Chief Constable Thames Valley; I have spoken to Police Authority members, and it makes no sense for us to dilute outer London regions, but the issue is there always will be choice in the employment market. We are not offering any major incentives except for the Inner London allowance and the travel pass, and we have to work with those police authorities and police services to try and minimise the impact on any recruitment exercises we undertake.

  Mr Stephenson: There is one particular point I wanted to make in response to Mrs Cryer's previous question around the issue of how we have responded to Ronnie Flanagan's workforce modernisation. We are very positive about that but I think all forces would say, but particularly in London, that we need to be bearing in mind the resilience of police officers, because when something happens we need to put fully trained police officers on the street. So there has to be a balance between modernisation and the retention of visible, skilled police officers who can do the business when the business needs to be done.

  Q144  Martin Salter: Getting back to recruitment, you will be aware of the lobby from the forces surrounding London and of the figures that Sara Thornton, Chief Constable of the Thames Valley has put forward. Over the last five years not only have we lost one thousand officers to the Met but it has cost something like £11 million to recruit and replace specialist officers. Obviously it is not in the interests of the Met to displace crime just outside its border because it still becomes a regional problem, no one is arguing that the Met should not have the additional cost of the living allowance, but do you accept that there is clearly a much too stark cliff edge in remuneration between those officers who are serving just outside the Metropolitan Police area boundaries and those officers serving in it?

  Mr Duvall: I would not want to make a Balkanisation case for extending the London policing boundaries, but I do accept there is a cost to training a specialist that is there. It is not for me to verify those figures that have been produced, and I do accept that in terms of our recruitment we cannot have a Do Not Care policy. Criminals do not need boundaries, and we need to work hard with each other to understand each other's needs and see if there are some issues that do not work against what we are all trying to do, but I think it is ultimately for Government to look at those funding issues, if there are funding issues.

  Mr Stephenson: There is little doubt, one has to be fair, that the range of opportunities, particularly at the high and specialist level, are very attractive to police officers, but there is also little doubt that there is a two-way flow and some people do go back, and there is an opportunity for forces to gain from experience in the fairly unique environment in the Met. Our advertising will continue in a controlled manner, through a combination of marketing events, hosted on MPS premises, and in police publications.

  But I do not think we should ignore the fact that there is a two-way flow and there is no particular campaign to target a particular constabulary such as Thames Valley, but I do accept the attractiveness of the Metropolitan Police Service at the high and specialist level.

  Mr Clappison: Chairman, may I say that Mr Salter speaks for me on this. We are in agreement.

  Chairman: Excellent!

  Q145  David Davies: I spoke within the last ten days to a constable in the British Transport Police who applied to the Met, was told the Met were not recruiting for a number of years, applied to the British Transport Police and was told informally by the Inspector in the Met that once he had done his training he would be very welcome, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, to reapply to the Met and he could be sure that a place would be found for him. So there seems to be anecdotal evidence that the Metropolitan Police are not happy to take on the cost of training constables, but are very happy to recruit them in from other forces.

  Mr Stephenson: If you look at the figures in our record we are very heavy initial recruiters and we do bring in a certain level of experience, but it is not something that you would anticipate is anything other than proportionate to the need. I think we have heavily recruited around the counter terrorism requirement; one would expect us to do that. We have the lead for counter terrorism along with a number of forces in this country; therefore you would expect us to make sure we attracted and gave opportunities to people across the country to give of their best in a specialised area of work, but that is a special case. We are heavy recruiters at the initial recruitment phase. We are also heavy recruiters into policing from our own PCSO base, because that has been a huge success, particularly when we look at black and ethnic minority recruitment.

  Mr Duvall: On the question of whether we are moving away from our residential training to do more flexible training on the job in surrounding areas, can I just say that we will not ever have a policy of doing it on the cheap or letting someone else take the responsibility. That is not in our policy making, and certainly it would never meet our recruitment needs.

  Q146  Chairman: Are you disappointed that in the last four years you have not appointed a black or Asian senior officer to the Met? We heard the Mayor earlier on saying it takes time, but in terms of 21st century policing, surely we should be appointing more senior police officers who are from the ethnic minority communities?

  Mr Duvall: My background and inclination is to appoint people if they are of sufficient calibre. There are men and women in BEM community who I am obviously very willing to appoint and promote. On ACPO ranks we have had a number of Commander appointments, which is where the majority are coming through. Certainly I have appointed senior women in the last four years to senior positions in the Met; I do not think it is too far away for us to see an Assistant Commissioner position going to a woman, there are people coming through the processes: I do not think it is too far away to see other senior black and ethnic minority groupings coming into those ACPO ranks. We have in the Met the most senior Assistant Commissioner in the country with considerable expertise and we utilise that where we can. We do engage with the staff representative groups and the Police Association, and we are working that through.

  Q147  Chairman: But is there a shortage of candidates? Because you have recruited more, have you not? Are they not applying? What is the reason, Mr Stephenson?

  Mr Stephenson: We start from a much improved base, as we have indicated, and there is a fair point here, that once you start heavily recruiting at the base that will take some time to come through, but also it is a fair challenge. Are we getting the success coming through at the speed we want? It is starting to happen but we are encouraged by the Metropolitan Police Authority to be much more active in our talent management and in our interventions to ensure we get that representation coming through, and to ensure we have at some stage in the future a picture that we are proud of right the way through all of the ranks. It is significantly improving but it will take some time.

  Q148  Mr Clappison: Do you have the feeling that that is something which is going to happen and, given what you said about appointing people on the basis of calibre, when it does happen we can all celebrate and say these people have reached the top on the basis of their calibre and there will be no question of anything else?

  Mr Duvall: A lot of mischief-making has been done in the past. All people will receive their promotions on that basis and are very proud of their own achievements. It is a significant achievement to achieve high office in the Metropolitan Police Service. I am very much taken when I come across people newly promoted from the BEM community because it is not just for them; it has a wider significance in their community, and they are very proud of that.

  Mr Stephenson: Reducing standards would do no one any favours.

  Chairman: Thank you. David Winnick has questions on counter-terrorism.

  Q149  Mr Winnick: The Metropolitan Police Authority, which, of course, you chair had two reports which were very critical indeed about Stop and Search. One of the reports, Counter-terrorism: The London Debate, said that Stop and Search is doing untold damage to certain communities. I am not sure if Counter-terrorism: The London Debate is actually Metropolitan Police Authority, but the Metropolitan Police Authority report on Stop and Search was very critical as well, and said it increased the level of distrust in the police and created deeper racial and ethnic tensions against the police. What is being done to try and avoid the sort of situations described in those two reports?

  Mr Duvall: Both those reports are very balanced and are raising issues that have been pointed out to us in the various scrutinies we have held. Right from the very beginning, before I had my position, the issues at the forefront have been around Stop and Search, Stop and Account post-Lawrence, and the development of that, based on an original scrutiny back in the first term in 2000. What is the Authority's position, and what steps can we take? By and large, we should be proud of our young people. If you read the press you think most of them are committing crimes; they are not. Most are likely to be victims. Young people, black and white, say: "We do not mind more Stop and Search but can you explain to us why you are doing it, why we are being asked to account and being searched, and also can you please do it with respect?" And that is the issue. Stop and Search is a very valuable tool in policing, I am quite clear about that, and I had that view before I took this position as a local government leader. If it can save lives in terms of knife crime it must be important, and young people who were there before are many of the people questioning the issues. The issue of counter-terrorism stops has been much more interesting because the Metropolitan Police Service are not the only ones who carry out that power in London; there are other agencies like the British Transport Police, the Ministry of Defence, also doing it. Like all tools—and I think I represent the views of my Authority—sometimes we have used the blanket anti-terrorism stop as a way of keeping public order that has not quite brought the body into disrepute but has caused it to be significantly questioned. Equally, however, Stop and Search/Stop and Account is around places which we know terrorists are looking at and targeting through their surveillance and preparation issues and has almost certainly saved lives. The question then is what we need to do, and what we have been doing is, firstly, telling people their rights, which I think is appropriate in the circumstances; secondly, that if they feel they have been unjustly stopped explaining how they can raise these issues, or if they have a complaint where they can raise that; and we have highlighted, certainly through the counter-terrorism debate that we have promoted, the importance of why the police need to do this activity to ensure that if they feel aggrieved that they are being persecuted for the fifth, fourth, or tenth time, there are mechanisms where we can track that and see what the circumstances were at the time or will be in the future. By and large I think the training that the Metropolitan Police Service has undertaken is good but we need to improve on it. Most Stop and Search or Stop and Accounts at borough level are intelligence-led and not at someone's discretion, but I do think it is important to stand up and say that police officers do need to have discretion sometimes and make a judgment call. But by and large in the boroughs it is intelligence-led and mostly, on counter-terrorism issues, it is around areas of activity that we know terrorists are looking at.

  Q150  Mr Winnick: Let's be blunt about this, Mr Duvall. Just as, when terrorism was being organised by the IRA and the suspicion was that the people who could possibly be involved were of Irish origin, the overwhelming majority of Irish people were against terrorism, terrorism now comes from that section of the Muslim community—not even a section—which is totally unrepresentative of the Muslim community in London and in the country as a whole, and surely the police have this dilemma, recognising this is where terrorism is coming from, and what are they to do but to try and stop what they believe could possibly be very dangerous people wanting to take as many lives as possible?

  Mr Stephenson: Everything in my professional background, and I entirely agree with Len on this, tells me that with Stop and Search the issue is more often how you do it, not what you do. That is really the key issue and it has been throughout my entire professional career. Generally around Section 44, counter-terrorism stops, there is a real need to keep the way we use it and the need for it under close review. My professional view at the moment is quite simply that it is a balanced, very useful, protective tool around certain parts of our environment to stop aggressive planning, and indications are that that particular tool adds to our armoury and potentially can save us from attack. That is a professional view at this moment in time but it does need to be kept under careful review. At the end of your question I think you were referring to the possibility of profiling, stopping people on the basis of terrorism coming from a certain section of the community and anybody who looks like they come from that section must be stopped. It is not a very smart tactic to do that because the enemy will simply turn round and decide to use people who do not look like that, and it would be a huge mistake to go down the profiling route. We have to be intelligence-led where we can be, but we should look at our infrastructure to put in protective regimes, and that is what we try to do. On balance professionally it is still worth doing it, but I think we have to be careful.

  Q151  Mr Winnick: Finally, insofar as those two reports which I quoted were so critical of Stop and Search, how confident are both of you that progress is being made which would avoid the very sharp criticism which your own Authority made?

  Mr Duvall: I am very confident because the processes of keeping it under review are there, rooted within the Authority; I am confident that senior managers such as Paul and the rest of the management team are sensitive to these issues; and if you go into a London borough our senior commanders are there. It is like all tools given to the police. If they are used appropriately and properly then they are effective tools at fighting crime. This goes back to regaining the confidence of communities, and in that sense I am confident that we can keep these under review; that we are mature enough to recognise if it is going adrift; that we can follow the stats and the trends in those stats, and take corrective action, and I think we are in a position to do that. Just going back to profiling, anybody who says they can do a profile of a terrorist only needs to look within the criminal justice system at those brought to book, either those who pleaded guilty or those who were found guilty, and it is very difficult. I keep reminding people of this in public, and they keep saying to me: "It is that group of people over there", and actually it is not; it is a reflection of all our communities. If you look at the number of people brought to justice we have had white, African, Asian—across the spectrum, and that is why it is difficult to profile.

  Mr Stephenson: There is a really important issue here that we, Government, all agencies, have to pick up on, which is this. You asked the question: How confident can we be that we are getting the message through? We are doing huge amounts more. The Metropolitan Police Authority-led London debate actually came up with recommendations around youth boards and female boards to get the communication system better. What we have to do to be more effective is communicate much more with key communities about what counter-terrorism is about, what are the processes we use, what are the inevitabilities, come and try it, come and engage in some of our exercises and see for yourself how the decisions are made. We have to build up confidence in advance of incidents, because the idea of just sharing intelligence around incidents is much more difficult. We have to build up confidence in the systems, processes and people, and that is the challenge for us all.

  Q152  Mr Streeter: Sir Ronnie had quite a lot to say about governance issues. What would you do to improve the accountability of local authorities?

  Mr Duvall: I think there are some issues around the visibility of police authorities generally, although the Metropolitan Police Authority could do with being out of the limelight after recent months. I think there is a case for invisibility for them! My own view is about clarity of structure. Here in London we are special—and I do not say that with arrogance, or say that we are any different because the challenges in the rest of the country are just as challenging—but there are two shareholders who influence policing in London, who are the Government and the Mayor through his precepts and budgeting. Any Mayor that takes office will have a great influencing role. The Metropolitan Police Authority sets the trend and the strategic direction, and the new power that the Mayor will have when he takes office will be that he will be able to appoint his own chair of the Police Authority; I am currently elected by the Police Authority. If you did away with the Police Authority you would have to replace it. If the issue is about transparency and about engagement in a mission, we explain that in public. I think we have provided added value in London and I do believe police authorities provide added value to policing outside, but it does need to be done appropriately. We have got a balance; we are not in each other's pockets; we can work together, and there are very few areas where we disagree—there have been some but by and large it works well in London. We need to be closer to local government, and I do not wish to take any decisions about fragmentation of the police service but I do believe that with local democratic leadership and working crime and disorder partnerships we should be able to offer a different type of service to them, and we want them to utilise the existing powers they have in terms of working closer with us. So that is what we are working on where you will see some changes in London, and we will be working much more closely with some agencies on localism, and we will unveil those ideas post May, and they have broad consensus across the political parties in London.

  Q153  Ms Buck: Mr Livingstone earlier made reference to Ronnie Flanagan's comments about the police being risk averse. What do you feel about that particular comment, and what are the Met doing in response to those comments?

  Mr Duvall: You can imagine with some of the incidents and some of the tragedies we have had to deal with that issue is uppermost in the minds of police and professionals. We have had discussions in the Police Authority about risk averse issues, and we have had also the famous Morris Report talking about how we deal with HR issues and how black and ethnic minorities felt about discipline processes, and about what was happening. It was not so much that people were being racist; they just did not want to deal with it, so they were not taking the risk and managing properly the smaller issues that may have been dealt with lower down. Those were the findings that we all agreed in the end in terms of responses. We have to set in train some processes and actions here so that in an operational environment, when they come to make judgments, they have take those without looking over their shoulders. That does not mean they should not be held accountable for their issues or we should be above the law, but there are certain circumstances where we can send the wrong signals in terms of operational policing issues and in terms of how we want people to manage or deal with the media, and increasingly with some of those issues it is not that police officers are frightened about circumstances but there is the potential for issues to run and run if the wrong thing is said in the media, or at different operational levels, and this means we do not get the best out of policing, and that is the issue that Ronnie is trying to get across. It is cultural, it is about leadership and about training. We do not want people running around thinking they are not accountable to the people they serve because they are servants of the people, but equally we need to give back some confidence. Some of the foundations laid after the Lawrence Inquiry for John Stevens were important and we made a number of changes in the way the policing took place then; I think we have seen that in terms of the other issues we have; but it is something we need to keep uppermost in our minds.

  Mr Stephenson: If I may say so, I entirely agree with Sir Ronnie. I also agree with his analysis that sometimes it has come about because of external influence, but occasionally because of the way we have responded to external influence and over-egged the pudding sometimes. It seems to me it is about professional police leadership and we have to internally redress that; but what Sir Ronnie has usefully done is brought the debate right out into the open because that debate also has to be had with the stakeholder groups who hold us to account and investigate us, to understand there is a wider context here.

  Q154  Bob Russell: Mr Stephenson, it will be four years next month since the first Safer Neighbourhood Teams based in wards were set up in London, and I understand that by April 2006 all 630 were up and running with one police sergeant, two police constables and three Police Community Support Officers. Now, this has been rolled out across London, what impact has there been for the benefit of Londoners and those of us visiting London, and what more needs to be done to embed neighbourhood policing?

  Mr Stephenson: There is little doubt it significantly contributes to what I was referring to earlier, the real increase in confidence and satisfaction, although there is more to be done. Safer Neighbourhood Teams have been key to bringing about that improvement, and I think it is right to say that in our most similar force grouping, which is the way we measure this, confidence in local policing is right at the very top, and that is something we are very proud of but which could get better. It has also had an impact on the crime figures. There is huge debate about the crime figures but whichever figures you look at, British Crime Survey or our police recorded figures, and you should not take one in isolation from the other, there are significant reductions, so it has had an impact there as well.

  Q155  Bob Russell: And, for a Government that likes school league tables, have we got league tables for Safer Neighbourhood Teams? The "Safer Neighbourhood Team of the Year" award?

  Mr Stephenson: I am not keen on league tables --

  Q156  Bob Russell: Nor am I, but I was just wondering.

  Mr Stephenson: -- but what I am keen on is recognising the fact that there are some places in London where the Safer Neighbourhood Teams are beyond good; beyond anything we ever imagined they were going to be. They are so outstanding. There are some places where they are not quite as good and we have to be clearer and cleverer at ensuring we bring everywhere up to higher standards. We are also rolling out Safer Neighbourhood Teams, and will roll out additional Safer Neighbourhood Teams where the wards are substantially bigger; there is an experiment going out about 24/7 in Hammersmith & Fulham Safer Neighbourhood Teams, and that has been evaluated, and clearly I will be very keen on something like that but that entirely depends on resourcing. What we now have to do is ensure we turn this very significant capacity into real capability. We were talking earlier about counter-terrorism; we have a potent opportunity in Safer Neighbourhoods now to embed counter-terrorism right to the level where counter-terrorism should be, and that is people working with communities who understand what counter-terrorism policing should be about and understand the need to support their neighbourhoods, and that is where we should be developing Safer Neighbourhoods in the future.

  Mr Duvall: The important issue here is policing in that response alone, responding to a 999 call, is not good enough for police, it is long-term problem solving that Safer Neighbourhood Teams can do, and one of the tests of their success is that if there is a critical incident in a neighbourhood and you need other professionals the first port of call will be a briefing from the Safe Neighbourhood Team on what is going on in the area, what is the wider significance. Anyone who knows policing knows it is very hard to get other professional specialists to refer back to at an experimental, early development stage, but it is bedding in, it is working, and the fact that they are prepared to give credence to it is an important point.

  Q157  Chairman: And giving the mobile numbers of the local police officers is very important.

  Mr Duvall: It is new. We know people want to help. They do not want to spend hours on the phone if they go through the main switchboard; they do not want to walk into a police station where there may be other people doing other things and have to report issues, so if we can separate off people giving non-emergency information that can be important to solving other crimes at certain times that is the key, and we have to work hard at that publicity and make sure it is maintained.

  Q158  Tom Brake: Mr Stephenson, could I tempt you to look into the future again? Obviously you want Safer Neighbourhood Teams to bed in but I think there is now evidence from a number of borough commanders that Safer Neighbourhood Teams have been so effective at reducing crime on their patch that there is not much crime for them to deal with, and those borough commanders might like to redeploy those resources in a different way. How do you reconcile the need to see people on the ground, which is something that local residents want, with what the borough commanders are saying about how those resources could be more effectively deployed to tackle crime on their patch?

  Mr Stephenson: There should always be a healthy tension between borough commanders and the centre, and that way we can push each other into improvement, but I think we have to learn from the lessons of history. I have had 33 years of policing, and I have been party, in various other forces, to a number of attempts to roll out neighbourhood, community policing, and had been part of something that has not left me feeling very proud because we have promised something one day and then taken it away the next. We have given too much flexibility too quickly. The success of the Safer Neighbourhood programme is due to the fact that for once it has an academic base so we can evidence improvements, and, secondly, there has been a disciplined approach to keep the Safer Neighbourhood Team to doing what it said on the tin in the first place.

  Q159  Chairman: And where is the best place for us to visit in London? The best performing area?

  Mr Stephenson: I can let you have a note but I will keep it secret because the rest will be very annoyed if I say it out loud!


 
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