Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Memorandum submitted by the Metropolitan Police Service (PR 100)


The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) welcomes the opportunity to offer professional advice to the Bill Committee.

With regards to largest part of the Bill, the creation of elected Police & Crime Commissioners, the MPS has a degree of experience of directly-elected policing oversight by way of the Mayor of London taking the Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) in October 2008 until January 2010.

The MPS is therefore aware of the benefits that such governance arrangements can bring to policing. For instance, the Mayor’s simultaneous control/influence with the police’s partners in transport and local authorities gives the holder of that post a broad view and ability to encourage partnership working across the various organisations and bodies in London.

The MPS feels that this Mayoral model, which provides a direct mandate and clear accountability, is what the Government is seeking. However, we do not believe that in the way the Bill is currently drafted this is achieved when policing oversight is delegated to the role of Deputy Mayor for Policing.

Part 1 Police Reform

1. While creating Police & Crime Commissioners elsewhere in England & Wales , the Bill makes separate provisions for London : abolishing the Metropolitan Police Authority and creating the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to oversee the Metropolitan Police and hold the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service to account.

2. Clearly it is for Parliament to decide the appropriate governance arrangements for policing. Accountability is essential to securing an efficient and effective police service, as is the operational independence of Chief Officers. To this end, there may be some merit in pursuing the Home Affairs Committee’s recommendation that a Memorandum of Understanding be developed to define operational independence.

3. While considering the clauses of the Bill, the Metropolitan Police asks that the Bill Committee are mindful of the following five principles:

a) New governance structures must have operational independence as their overriding principle.

b) Chief Officers must have the ‘space’ to do the job they were employed to do - leading and managing their forces, while being held accountable.

c) Governance should not be confused with management. Only by being operationally independent can chief officers be properly held to account.

d) Chief Officers must be free to maintain a police force that balances the policing needs of their force area (and wider policing commitments where appropriate) with the tools necessary to deliver this. We are passionate about uniformed governance but also about those less visible but equally vital policing services that tackle serious crime in support of beat policing.

e) Creating new accountability structures must be grasped as an opportunity to reduce bureaucracy, not increase it.

Balance of Policing

4. Chief Officers must be free to maintain a balance of policing, both the uniformed governance of the streets and the provision of protective services. The former will always be more electorally popular than the latter. The MPS believes the Bill should provide a safeguard against the priorities of an elected individual being in conflict to the maintenance of a balance of policing.

5. One potential safeguard is found in Clauses 22 and 23, which provide for the Secretary of State to intervene in the governance of a police force and set a minimum budget, but only where the Home Secretary is satisfied that the safety of people in that police area is being put at risk. The intention is clearly to limit the Secretary of State’s intervention to extreme circumstances. The Committee may wish to give consideration to what constitutes ‘risk’ and what the threshold should be for intervention.

6. The Home Secretary’s Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR) will set out national policing capabilities to counter national threats. The Bill provides for Chief Officers to "have regard to" the SPR.

7. The MPS is supportive of ACPO’s suggestion that the requirement for PCCs to "‘have regard to" the SPR be strengthened. While accepting that the overall intention of the Bill is to devolve more decision making to elected individuals, the Home Secretary will retain the responsibility for ensuring the safety of UK citizens and for ensuring all forces contribute towards the provision of protective services. We agree with ACPO that the wording "have regard to" is insufficient for this purpose.

Appointment and Dismissal of MPS Senior Officers

8. The Bill makes provision for the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to appoint and have power of discipline and dismissal over the ranks of Assistant Commissioners, Deputy Assistant Commissioners and Commanders. Currently the Metropolitan Police Authority has the power appointment, discipline and dismissal of ACs, DACs and Commanders.

9. The MPS supports this change and has argued for some time that if the Commissioner is to be held accountable for the actions of his senior officers, it is logical that he should be the person who appoints those senior officers.

10. The Committee may wish to give consideration to the wording of Clauses 45-47, which states the MPS "must have one or more" ACs, DACs and Commanders. Changing this to "may have one or more" would allow the MPS the freedom to alter the number of senior ranks in the future, should that be deemed necessary.

11. With regards to the dismissal of Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners (Clause 48), the MPS concurs with the written evidence submitted to the Committee by ACPO. The Bill does not currently provide for an independent voice in the dismissal process. As ACPO suggest, a requirement on the Home Secretary to consult Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary would ensure an independent professional opinion is considered.

Provision of Information

12. There are a number of clauses within the Bill that relate to the provision of information, including to the public, the Secretary of State and the Police & Crime Panel. The current wording of Clause 93 does not address the fact that to disclose certain kinds of data would place the Commissioner (as the MPS Data Controller) in breach of the Data Protection Act. Therefore, the MPS would need to consider which act (Data Protection Act or Police Reform & Social Responsibility Act) had primacy. The Committee should therefore be aware that Clause 93 as drafted does not create an open ended obligation on Forces to share all and any data. It would be helpful to get the Committee's view on whether Clause 93 as drafted would have the potential to create conflict with the Data Protection Act.

13. The MPS seeks to confirm that the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis remains as the Data Controller under the Data Protection Act and, if so, suggests that this is explicitly stated in the Bill. It is important that a police force is held properly accountable. Clause 36 puts a requirement on Chief Officers to provide information and reports to the PCC/MOPC. This is entirely proper and ensures the police are subject to democratic scrutiny.

14. This scrutiny must not place an unreasonable burden on police forces, however. The MPS believes that the creation new accountability structures should be grasped as an opportunity to reduce bureaucracy, not increase it. The Committee should be aware that the MPS responded to 308 requests for information from MPA members outside of the existing governance structures in 2008, 643 requests in 2009 and 795 requests in 2010. This is in addition to the formal requests for reports which numbered 271 in 2008, 389 in 2009 and 428 in 2010.

Corporation Sole

15. Clause 4 of the Bill provides for the creation of a corporation sole called "the Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis", allowing the MPS to directly employ its own police officers and police staff. This is a measure the MPS strongly supports and has suggested for some time. This will enable the Commissioner to ensure he has the appropriate level of both policing professionals and business professionals to support him in leading and managing the MPS.

16. The creation of both the MPS and the MOPC as separate corporate soles will have implications in terms of separate annual reporting and audit requirements. The MPS is concerned that this may bring an additional layer of bureaucracy, which is unnecessary and could be avoided if we were accountable directly to the Mayor as PCC. The MPS makes the assumption that as a corporation sole our legal status will be that of a ‘local authority’.


17. Clause 21 provides for the MOPC to keep a police fund, mirroring the present arrangements whereby the MPA keeps a police fund. The MPS believes that in order to create the freedom for proper governance the police fund should be held by the MPS and be accountable to the PCC rather than managed by the PCC.

18. We believe that such an arrangement practically supports the fundamental objective of the Bill in strengthening democratic accountability but at the same time upholding the operational independence of the police. The police service would be held to account for its actions in delivery against objectives as agreed in a policing plan, but within a framework that enables Chief Officers to effectively direct and control resources in support of these aims.

19. The Bill is somewhat unclear on which body should control the fund and therefore decide the appropriate allocation of resources to policing activities. At present, all MPA budgetary functions relating to the police fund are delegated to the MPS, with the MPA providing overall decision making. The Committee may wish to consider if the intention of the Bill is for this situation to continue with the MOPC.

Value for Money

20. Clause 35 places an obligation on Chief Officers to "secure that good value for money is obtained" in exercising the functions of the police force. The Bill does not define ‘good value’ or name an independent body who might arbitrate in a disagreement between the force and their accountability body.

21. The Committee may wish to consider placing a duty on HMI to act in this capacity.

Value Added Tax

22. Schedule 15 extends the VAT Act to the MPOC, but not the MPS. If the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis as a corporation sole has a legal status, which we assume is that of a local authority - the VAT Act should also be extended to the MPS.


23. The Bill provides for the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to have contracting rights and responsibilities for the provision of goods and services but not for land and buildings. The MOPC will be empowered to enter into contracts for goods and services and for land and buildings. This is a somewhat confusing arrangement and one that the MPS would seek to clarify as the Bill progresses.

Part 2 Licencing

24. The Bill provides for a number of measures to improve the bureaucratic requirements on the police service in terms of licensing, which the MPS supports.

25. The clauses creating licensing authorities, PCTs and local Health Boards as responsible authorities will reduce the burden on the police as the main protagonist is licensing issues. The addition of environmental health as a body who may object to Temporary Event Notices (TEN) and also the proposal to allow objections on all four licensing objectives is also welcome.

26. The MPS is particularly supportive of Clause 113, concerning conditions on Temporary Event Notices (TEN). This will prevent premises that benefit from a licence with conditions being able to use a TEN to circumvent those conditions. The Bill provides for Licensing Authorities to add conditions to the TEN that reflect those on the premises licence.

27. The MPS also supports Clause 117 which increases the time given to police to object to TENs from two to three days.

28. Whilst fully supporting Clause 118 which increases the maximum penalty for persistently selling alcohol to children, the MPS would like the Committee to be mindful that to be successful this measure must be accompanied by strong sentencing guidelines.

29. The measures in Clause 119 for early morning alcohol restriction orders (allowing a Licensing Authority to make an order prohibiting the sale of alcohol between 3am and 6am on certain days, in certain areas and for certain premises) will have a significant and beneficial impact on police resources.

30. Clause 122 adds to the list of offences that preclude an individual from holding a Personal Licence. The MPS supports this sensible measure, adding sex offences, offences involving violence and dishonesty, road traffic and drugs offences to the list of relevant offences.

31. The MPS strongly supports the proposal for a ‘Late Night Levy’ (Clauses 124-138), in particular the proposed mechanism by which Local Authorities may impose a levy on licensed premises operating between midnight and 6am of which at least 70% must be paid to the PCC/MOPC. This measure will enshrine a ‘polluter pays’ principle to the legislation.

Part 3 Parliament Square

32. The MPS will submit a separate submission on the areas of the Bill in respect of Parliament Square, following the oral evidence provided by AC Owens on Thursday 20th January.

Part 4 Misuse of Drugs

33. The Police Service, via ACPO, has provided views on the proposed introduction of Temporary Ban Orders for so-called ‘legal highs’ and has been consulted throughout the drawing up of the Bill.

34. Should this measure become law, ACPO will issue guidance to officers to reflect some of the challenges it creates for police officers, for instance keeping officers up to date with changes and establishing what constitutes an amount for supply rather than personal use.

January 2011