Examination of Witness (Questions 320-336)|
19 MAY 2009
Q320 Tom Brake: That would be useful
to know because of course you have chosen not to introduce them
for all operational officers; is that correct?
Sir Paul Stephenson: No. We have
chosen to increase the deployment of tasers. Initially we were
deploying tasers only to firearms-trained officers; now we deploy
them to additional other TSG officers, a small number, so that
they can make them more readily available to support officers
on the streets. You are right in saying we have chosen not to
deploy them to all operational officers; we have not but we have
increased the deployment.
Q321 Tom Brake: So far, what do you
feel that their effectiveness has been?
Sir Paul Stephenson: I think the
additional deployment has been very successful. I do not have
the data here with me but the data that I have looked at indicates
to me that the use of tasers in that careful way has reduced injury,
both to police officers and to people who would otherwise be subject
to other enforcement effort. I think it has been a very successful
deployment. Critically, in doing it, I have to bear in mind a
number of things. First, I have to bear in mind cost. That is
a big issue for me in most things that we do, quite clearly, and
so it should be. Deploying and then maintaining tasers across
some 30,000 odd police officers is a significant issue, which
the Home Office probably would not go to. Secondly, I have to
look at the different geography of London. By deploying to a 24/7
capability of TSG officers, it may well be I can achieve the same
effect because I have it readily available. It would be fair to
say that smaller forces would not have that 24/7 capability to
deploy. Thirdly, I have to ensure that I maintain community support
for what we do. This is London and I work very hard to ensure
that not only do I return the support of my governance side, the
Police Authority, but that of communities. However we take this
debate forward with tasers, my view is that it should be measured;
it should be evidence-based; and it should be based on reducing
injury to the public, reducing injury to officers, and it must
be affordable in the long term.
Q322 Tom Brake: Given that it has
been a success in the relatively limited way that you have described,
are there any circumstances in which you think you would want
to extend it more fully to operational officers?
Sir Paul Stephenson: We will keep
that under careful evaluation. If I think it will achieve the
things I have just outlined, I will go back to the Police Authority
and discuss it with them. Whilst it is an operational decision
to deploy, this will be a significant amount of money that will
be a budgetary matter. It is sensible for me to take it forward
and do anything I would do on this to ensure I return the support
of my Police Authority, but more importantly ensure I take the
community of London with me. I think if we were to move this forward,
we would have to ensure we have a dialogue with the people who
are paying our wages and whom we are looking to protect.
Q323 Tom Brake: Finally, can I ask
whether the training costs have been a significant issue for the
force, because that is not funded by the Home Office?
Sir Paul Stephenson: When I talk
about cost, it is not just about the purchase of these things;
I always talk about total costs and training costs are always
a huge issue. The training budget for the Met is a very significant
budget and we need to make sure we give the right training but
minimise the cost. Of course qualification and re-qualification
on these would be an ongoing revenue cost to us.
Q324 Ms Buck: Stop and searches under
Section 44 of the Terrorism Act rose to something around 12,000
a month. How effective were they and could you explain to us exactly
how you reached the balance of the value of stop and search against
the disproportionate impact it was having on black and minority
Sir Paul Stephenson: I think,
as you are probably aware, we significantly increased the use
of Section 44 following the Haymarket incidents and what went
on to be the attempt in Glasgow. This is a power that we want
to retain. We increased its use because it is about creating a
hostile environment for terrorists but I do accept it is a power
that, used unwisely, can lead to negativity and lack of public
support. At the end of the day, in this country we are policed
by public consent. I think I have made my views known and that
we have now moved towards a pilot to reduce the indiscriminate
use of that power. I want to retain that power.
Q325 Ms Buck: Should it ever have
been used indiscriminately?
Sir Paul Stephenson: I think it
was probably the right response at the time because of the nature
of the threat we felt we were facing and to send a message to
the terrorists that London was a hostile environment. I think
we have done much around that and I think we have learnt from
that. To be fair, I think we have also learnt from the fact that
the level of disproportionality is a balancing act; there are
benefits and disbenefits. I think we got to a point where the
disbenefits were outweighing the benefits in terms of the way
it was being used. I am not saying we were irresponsible but I
think you learn lessons and you make that benefits and disbenefits
balance. I think the balance is that we need to be far more focused.
Q326 Mrs Dean: Following on from
that, does the decision to reduce the use of stop and search under
Section 44 have any implications for the use of stop and search
in Operation Blunt to tackle knife crime?
Sir Paul Stephenson: Of course,
in the public's mind stop and search is stop and search. I do
accept that. As you would expect, I look at it much differently
because I should look at tactics such as this and these are, as
I have said many times, very intrusive tactics. I should look
at the tactics specifically as to what effect I am trying to achieve
and what the benefits and disbenefits are. We have significantly
increased our stop and search in relation to Operation Bluntthat
is absolutely undeniableusing PACE and Section 60 stop
and searches. The effect of that I believe can be seen in the
figures. By the way, and I am far from complacent, I still think
there are far too many youth murders and there are far too many
youth victims and youth perpetrators, but there have been significant
reductions. One of the key alterations in the figures is that
our interventions are leading to a smaller yield of weaponry.
When we first started this we had a ratio of 2 point something
and we are now down to less than 1. Actually, we are finding fewer
weapons because our intent is to send a message that if you carry
a knife, you are likely to be stopped; if you are stopped, you
are likely to be charged; if you are charged, you are likely to
go to court and there is severe punishment for that. I think we
have done that but at all timesit is a bit like my answer
to the taser questionswe have worked very hard to maintain
community support. We have panels in place across our communities
under Operation Pennant, which has been the subject of best practice
commentary, publishing the data so people can see what we are
doing, but also working with communities and with observers on
our Blunt 2 patrols to ensure that communities know we are using
this tactic to protect them with them to do what they want. Thus
far, we are keeping the communities with us but it is a sensitive
balance and we need to keep redoubling our efforts.
Chairman: The Committee will be publishing
its report into knife crime next week, Commissioner.
Q327 Bob Russell: Do you share our
concern about the Home Office's decision to cease funding for
the Met's Human Trafficking Unit?
Sir Paul Stephenson: Firstly,
I always share concern if I am not going to get as much money
as I thought I was going to get. I would be a foolish commissioner
to say I have more resources than I need. From the Met perspective,
we have to put this into a context. The human trafficking team
is one part of the Met's wider commitment to tackling human traffickingsmuggling,
trafficking, illegal immigration crimebecause it touches
on a number of our units. The original discussion around this
actually only affected one part of our much wider operation but
we are going to keep that Human Trafficking Unit in place whilst
we go through a review as to what is the most effective use of
our resources. If you ask me if I would like the funding to continue
and if I am happy that funding is being removed, I would like
funding to continue; I am never happy when funding is removed.
Q328 Bob Russell: Commissioner, could
I pursue that because you said "in context" and I want
to suggest in context that the Met's Human Trafficking Unit is
not just for London; it of UK-wide importance. Indeed, it has
been deemed to be so successful, I understand it is being used
as a role model for police forces elsewhere in the world. With
that in mind, is it not strange it should be downgraded?
Sir Paul Stephenson: What I am
saying is that we have maintained our current response pending
the outcome of that review, but regrettably we do not have the
money that we once had from the Home Office.
Q329 Bob Russell: Is the review likely
to suggest it should be expanded or maintained? My experience
of reviews is that they are moving in the other direction.
Sir Paul Stephenson: I have to
say that I do not know what the review will say. I await the outcome
of the review. I am not going to prejudge the outcome of that
review. I want to ensure that the asset that we get, that I get,
is used to best effect for this very distressing area.
Q330 Bob Russell: But you do recognise,
I hope, that this is regarded as a very successful unit, so successful
that some police forces around the world want to model theirs
on what the Met has achieved.
Sir Paul Stephenson: That is why
just because we have lost the funding, we have not removed our
capability. It is right and proper that if I am going to lose
funding I then have to review how best we use that asset. We are
reviewing it. I am not prejudging the outcome of that review.
Q331 Bob Russell: Should this Committee
suggest to the Home Secretary that there should be sufficient
funding provided? I think I know the answer.
Sir Paul Stephenson: I think you
know the answer. I can only suggest that money like that is well
used by the Met.
Q332 Chairman: Finally on this section
before we turn to the G20, some members of this committee have
been to Europol to see the very good work that is being done there.
We have now a new British Director. One of the issues concerned
with our officers serving on Europol is that they all had to resign
from the police force in order to take up appointments at Europol,
whereas in other countries they can retain their service and their
pension, serve for two years on Europol, and then return to their
police forces. In that way, our officers get a lot of experience
in dealing with one of the most important organisations in the
world as far as human trafficking and other serious crime is concerned.
Do you have any views on that, Commissioner?
Sir Paul Stephenson: My knowledge
does not extend to the employment conditions in Europol, so I
could not really comment on that. I would say that in quite a
number of areas of crime we find huge benefits where we deploy
some of our assets in key partner agencies and in key partner
countries; we do it with counter-terrorism and we do it with organised
crime. The logic of having people working in key agencies maybe
aboard that brings benefit to the nation and benefits to the Metropolitan
Police Service, and from my point of view most importantly benefits
to London, is there but I could not comment on the employment
rights, conditions and constraints because it is outwith my knowledge.
Q333 Chairman: Let us now turn to
G20 for the remaining few minutes of this evidence session. You
are on record as saying immediately after the G20 protest when
the press was reporting what was happening, and I quote you and
tell me if this quote is wrong, that the headlines should read:
"Astonishing operation by the Met who did a first-class job."
Do you have cause either to regret what you said at the time or
to look back and think that maybe you should have said it in a
Sir Paul Stephenson: I would have
cause to regret it if that was all I said, Chairman, but it is
not all I said, as you know. I think I have been consistent right
from the outset. Firstly, I think it right that I said the very
sad death of Ian Tomlinson should be investigated; they are demanding
answers, they want answers and they should get answers as soon
as possible. We have been and will continue to co-operate with
the IPCC and we did from the outset. There are three things I
have consistently said about G20, and I will come to the point
you made as the third. Firstly, I have said right from the outset,
from the very point that I saw those video images, that those
video images were of real concern and they should be thoroughly
investigated. That is what I said right from the outset and I
stick by that. As I said earlier on in this session, I am the
ultimate discipline authority in the Met, so it would be wrong
for me to prejudge the outcome of those investigations. I am pleased
to hear that Nick Hardwick when he appeared before this Committee
made a very similar and I think very proper comment. That was
my first point. My second point was that I recognise the widespread
concerns from reports in the media and from a number of people
about the tactic we used that other people call kettling. We think
that is an entirely inappropriate term.
Q334 Chairman: We will come on to
that later in the questioning.
Sir Paul Stephenson: That is my
second point; it is the context of what you said I said. I think
it was right and proper to ask for a review of that tactic to
see if there is something better because if there is, let us look
for it and compare that with other jurisdictions. I then tried
to place that in the context that there were 13,000 officer days
during this operation. It was a remarkable operation planned over
an incredibly short period of time that would normally take years
and actually the vast majority of my officers did a remarkable
job. I am very comfortable sitting by that statement.
Q335 Chairman: As you know, we have
had previous witnesses and I do not know whether you have had
a chance to see their testimony before the committee; Sir Hugh
Orde has been before the committee; Mr Denis O'Connor has been
here too. They have expressed concern. If you are giving marks
out of 10 to your police force for the G20 protests, what is the
Sir Paul Stephenson: I would not
give marks out of 10, Chairman. I would stick by what I have said
and that is that the vast majority did a very, very fine professional
job but there are some images that are concerning that must be
properly investigated. If officers behaved improperly, then they
should be held to account and the tactic we have used reviewed.
That is what I would say.
Q336 Chairman: You did say almost
immediately after this was drawn to your attention that you felt
that officers must have their identification on their lapels;
people need to know exactly who they are. Is that the case?
Sir Paul Stephenson: Form a police
officer's point of view, it is a statement of the blindingly obvious.
Uniformed officers should always be identifiable. Anybody who
deliberately tries to get round that, then we should look for
the evidence and treat them accordingly.