Home Affairs Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 1929-i

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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Home Affairs Committee

on Tuesday 17 April 2012

Members present:

Keith Vaz (Chair)

Nicola Blackwood

Mr Aidan Burley

Mr James Clappison

Michael Ellis

Lorraine Fullbrook

Dr Julian Huppert

Mary Macleod

Steve McCabe

Alun Michael

Bridget Phillipson

Mark Reckless

Mr David Winnick


Examination of Witness

Witness: Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, gave evidence.

Q1 Chair: Commissioner, good morning.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Good morning, Chair.

Chair: Or good afternoon; my apologies for keeping you waiting. Can I begin by thanking you very much? I am sorry I disturbed you on Easter Monday.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Not at all.

Chair: Thank you very much for agreeing to come in to give evidence to the Committee today. We obviously want to deal with recent events, but we also want to have a stocktake of your first six months in office.

Can I begin by asking you about the fact that the CPS has just announced that PC Alex MacFarlane has now been charged with racially aggravated public disorder as a result of the incident involving Mauro Demetrio. You presumably have been informed of this decision. What is your reaction to it?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I think probably, Chair, the best I can say is that obviously I am pleased that the CPS reviewed the original decision, which I know today’s decision is a result of. I am sure now that we have to let the criminal law take its course, but I am glad that will be tested in a court.

The second thing is that the Metropolitan Police will now decide what action we will take around misconduct, dependent on now having received the decision of the CPS, and we will try to make that decision as soon as possible, within the next few days.

Q2 Chair: I think people would be puzzled that it has not been possible for you and the Metropolitan Police Service to have taken action against PC MacFarlane or other people who are alleged to have been involved in issues to do with race, and you have seen the words that he used in relation to Mauro Demetrio. Did you listen to the tape that was obtained from him that was on his mobile phone?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: One of the complications in this case, which is true of any case that is independently investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission-of course, they supervise and have all the material relevant to their investigation, so they have carried out this investigation over the previous months. The tape I heard was the one that everybody else heard, I presume, when it was broadcast. So, both the product of the investigation and that tape I had not heard, nor had we. In terms of whether or not we should have taken action before that, when there is an independent investigation it is rather difficult for us until we see the product of that investigation, which we have not even yet received, if you bear in mind the process. The investigation was carried out. The material was passed over to the CPS. The CPS decided they would not lay a charge. That decision is now reviewed. Now that that decision has been made, we will receive the file and we will take whatever action we feel is appropriate around misconduct. So in this particular case I think that is all I can say.

In general, it is a fair challenge as to how we treat this type of allegation and whether we could take more action more quickly. What I have said publicly-and I repeat here at this Committee-is that first, is that I condemn any racist in the Met. I have said I am not going to stand for them being in the Met and I will drive them out. Whatever is within my power to do something about that, I will do.

Q3 Chair: But it is a matter of regret, is it not, that these kinds of issues to do with racism do not surface from the Met themselves but come from newspapers-The Guardian in this particular case? The Stephen Lawrence case was driven by the Daily Mail. We then have the case of Kester David, partly as a result of a media campaign. Looking at the way in which you deal with racism-and of course we accept fully what you have said about your wish to drive racists out of the Met-previous Commissioners have said this to this Committee before. All your predecessors have been against racism and keen to weed out those who are racists, but this keeps coming back to the Met. It seems to be an issue that is embedded in the Metropolitan Police. Is this a worry to you as Commissioner? Obviously you can’t take responsibility for this because you have been there for six months, but it must be a worry that, in this day and age, there are police officers who work for the police service who use words like "nigger" and "You will always have a black skin", and terrible, terrible words of that kind, to citizens of London?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Of the 11 cases that we have referred to the IPCC, I think six came to light because colleagues identified that officers and staff had taken inappropriate action. So I don’t think it is entirely true to say that it is entirely left to either the press or to complainants in these particular cases.

Going on to your fundamental point, I entirely agree. I would hope that we never have a case like this or an allegation like this. I have to stress, although I realise we are in Parliament, that it remains an allegation at the moment. First of all, that word, which you repeated but I try to avoid, I think still leaves you wondering what is in someone’s heart to be able to say it; what is it within someone? Even when we are angry-police officers, all of us, get angry and irritated at times-I don’t know what someone finds within themselves to use that word or anything like it. So that is a deep worry.

Let me just complete one thing, if you wouldn’t mind, on the action we are taking. There are actually 11 cases. We thought there were 10, but because of a counting issue between us and the IPCC it is 11. I want the investigations in the cases that we investigate, of which I think there are six out of the 11, to be completed within four weeks. Some of those investigations have started and are not too far off completion. There is one where we might have a little difficulty, but I think we can get through that quite quickly and then, hopefully, we can reassure the public we take it seriously and we are trying to come to some conclusions quickly.

If I could talk about the Enfield case, the case of David Kester.

Q4 Chair: You ordered the new inquiry when you became Commissioner?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Not when I became Commissioner but when I discovered about this case, which to be fair, as you pointed out, was the result of press reporting. Before that I had not particularly heard of this case. David died in 2010. It was believed initially that this was a suicide. It is identified in the police’s own review and investigation into the initial investigation that there were flaws in the investigation, and when the case came to the coroner’s court, which was in January 2011, the coroner recorded an open verdict. The family believe that his death may not have been suicide and someone else may have been involved-query, murder-and in any case they think the flawed investigation at the beginning, which is actually supported by an internal investigation into that first criminal investigation, was because of the race of David Kester and his family.

It seemed to me there were two things. One, if he was murdered, I need to know if that is true of not; two, if he was murdered, then who are they, and let’s find them. What I have ordered, first of all, is that the murder team, which has a 94% detection rate across London, will investigate that event to find out if it is a crime or not, and if it is a crime, then we will try to get to the person who committed it; secondly, that we have an independent force to review that investigation as it progresses. It is common good practice that if we are carrying out a serious crime investigation we would review it along the way, usually at 24 hours, 28 days and so on. I would ask that we have an independent force to oversee that.

My fundamental point is that it seems to me that if there is an issue of trust for the people of London and others, we need to do our best to try to reassure.

Q5 Chair: You have clearly tried to do this. However, one way of restoring that trust is you have the power to make sure that some of these disciplinary hearings should be held in public so the public themselves know that something is being done. One of the concerns is that once a disciplinary process takes place in private, nobody actually knows what the outcome is, and far too often police officers are allowed to retire or resign before there is proper closure, which must be upsetting to you and others when that happens. How do we reassure the public that when you say you will not tolerate this in the Metropolitan Police Force, this will actually happen-unless they see it for themselves? Seeing in some cases is believing. Would you allow some of these hearings to take place in public?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I think the first thing is, it would probably be wrong of me to commit myself to individual cases, but I will take that away from here and find out whether we should in any of these cases. There are two layers of scrutiny that are available: to the public in general, and then to the individual complainants or their families or representatives. First of all, the individual who is a complainant in a case can be included within the disciplinary panel, such that they can be there during the event, the tribunal. The second thing is, as you say, there should be a public reporting of this. As far as I am aware, I don’t think that has happened yet, certainly throughout England and Wales. So I think it is a fair challenge. I will just, if you wouldn’t mind, look at each of these cases to see which, if any, are appropriate, but I am not deaf to that suggestion.

Q6 Chair: It would be very helpful if you did that. It is about reassuring the public. We accept that this is a minority of officers, but for those of us who have been around a long time, and had Commissioners before this Committee on a number of occasions-

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I accept that.

Chair-there have been commitments made. The vision is there. However, the practicality could be that there remains at the lower levels of the Met this worry about a certain culture where words like "Paki" and "nigger", all these words, are acceptable, which they are not. You accept that these are words that should never be used by police officers?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I do.

Q7 Chair: Finally, can I just ask about Doreen Lawrence’s letter to you? She has written to you and to the Home Secretary calling for a proper investigation into the activities of Sergeant John Davidson. I am not sure if the Home Secretary has replied, but she is before us next week and we will ask her. Clearly, the Lawrence case is hugely significant to the Met, and we all want to learn the lessons of the Lawrence case. What has happened as a result of Doreen’s Lawrence’s letter? She has now written to me to ask me to raise this matter as well.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: The first thing we have done is to try to find all the material around the investigations that previously happened in terms of the Lawrence inquiry about any allegations of corruption in it. So you will know in this Committee-as will the rest of the public-about all the criminal investigations into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. So that is one stream of work. At the same time there have been some significant investigations during that 20-year period about, first of all, the allegation and suspicions around corruption in the investigative team and others associated with it. So we have been in the process, since Doreen Lawrence’s letter, of trying to recover that material. You may say, "Can’t you just put your finger on it?" Sadly, after 20 years, first of all, we have not been able to locate all of it. I don’t want to come back to this Committee, or anybody else, and say we have found four fifths of it and then find another fifth, vitally, and so we have done a document search.

The second thing is, because we have found that the Met, even in that period, has changed quite significantly-buildings have opened and closed, and I will not bore you with the rest-the Deputy Commissioner is arranging to ask individual officers who were involved in the original investigation, in terms of the corruption, where they think some of those documents might be. Do we have everything, is there anything else at all, before we share that either with the Home Secretary or the IPCC or anyone who might want to say, "Well, what has been done already? Is there a reason to reopen this? If there is, then let us at least know from what basis we do that"?

So the first thing I thought it was important for me to do was to gather the evidence, and we are in the process of doing that. It is probably better that somebody else decides how best that concern of Doreen Lawrence, which I acknowledge, is-either she is reassured or alternatively we start something else, or someone else starts something else.

Q8 Chair: So your message to this Committee is that you will not tolerate racism in the Metropolitan Police, and that you would want all officers in the Met, if they know of any such activity going on, to report it immediately. Is that right?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Yes. We have concentrated, quite appropriately, on the allegation and the other 10 allegations, but I have not missed the point that in fact a lot of the issues that are around the Metropolitan Police and the people in London, for example, also are suffused by their concerns about stop and search. So we have some work, which we will announce in the next few weeks, on how we intend to improve that. So what I hope we can show is that, first of all, in terms of looking backwards, we are trying to establish not just whether one particular complaint was right or wrong; we are acknowledging that there are a significant number of things that we need to get right, and we are going to do that. Then there is a piece of work, which I am going to lead personally, which is about how we continue to improve our culture-well, we always need to change cultures-over the next seven years.

Finally, in Merseyside, as you may know, we had some very significant success in reducing crime and antisocial behaviour, by about a third. We saved money in the back office to employ 9% more police. The thing I was proudest of was that we had the lowest number of complaints per head in the country, and our civil litigation came down too. That was not just because of the tactics we employed around crime reduction; it was also because of the values-driven work that we did with our leaders, of which we had 1,500-the Met has 7,000-the people we pay to lead. There is work we need to do with them, not just to tell them to do things differently, and that is what we will do over the next seven years, year in, year out, and I will lead that work. But I think that is the longer term. It may be a bit esoteric to discuss at a Committee like this, but it is the stuff that will make the difference over the years, with what will be 53,000 people.

Chair: Thank you. We have other questions.

Q9 Mr Winnick: Your own commitment to combating racism, Commissioner, is not in doubt in any way whatsoever, but can I ask you this question: were you particularly surprised when you heard this tape? Presumably, you heard the tape at some stage with its racist language and its obscenities. Were you surprised?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Yes, shocked and sickened, really.

Mr Winnick: Yes. I can understand you being shocked and sickened, as any normal person would be, but that was not my question. Were you surprised?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: On the specific point, yes.

Q10 Mr Winnick: You have been in the police force since 1979, and I have already said about your own record in opposing racism, but I must say I am surprised that you should have been surprised that this occurred.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Okay. I am sorry about that, but I can only tell you honestly what I believe, not what I think you want to hear. I was surprised.

Q11 Mr Winnick: I ask that question, Commissioner, because if during informal things taking place in the House of Commons, in the Tearoom or anywhere else-obviously not in the Chamber-I heard parliamentary colleagues or Officers coming out with that, I would be very surprised. Likewise, journalists would be very surprised if that was said in the press gallery. But you are not surprised that there were certain remarks made of that nature?

Chair: I think he did say he was surprised.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Sorry, I think I said the exact opposite, but I am sorry if it wasn’t clear.

Chair: He was surprised, he said.

Mr Winnick: You were surprised; I am sorry.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: But, Mr Winnick, I understand what you are saying, you would have been-

Mr Winnick: I would have been very surprised indeed.

Chair: I think we can accept that everyone was surprised.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I can’t say any more, I am afraid.

Chair: No, I think it was a misunderstanding. I think we all accept that you said you were surprised. That is what I heard.

Q12 Mr Winnick: I take the point. The Independent Police Complaints Commissioner, Mike Franklin, is quoted in the newspaper as saying, "Equally, the police must not hide behind statistics and must recognise that actual recorded allegations of racism are probably an indication of much wider dissatisfaction and disaffection". Do you go along with that?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: You have to have an open mind on that. What Mike Franklin may have been commenting on is that if you only look at the statistics-and I wouldn’t want to rely on that-we have about 6 million telephone calls a year, we deal with many people and we get 14,000 complaints. Now, as an absolute number, that is a large number, I acknowledge that. If you break it down it is less than one per borough per day and, of that number, 2.5% have a racist allegation within it, which I think is about 320, so one per day across London. I would like it to be that there is not one. I suspect what he is talking about is, if you only relied on statistics you may conclude this is not a big problem; but if you have-as the Chair raised at the beginning-such an awful allegation as we saw at Newham, the numbers hardly matter. So I think both can be true.

The second thing is, as I have already alluded to regarding our response to stop and search, I am not refining and reducing our focus in the work we are about to embark on just in terms of this allegation or the number associated with it. I think there is an issue about stop and search, and there may be other things that we need to think about. So I am open-minded to it, and if there are other things out there we need to know about I will listen. Complaints never tell us the whole story.

Finally on this, let me describe one of the pieces of work that the Deputy has started. We have a chief superintendent who is just back from a strategic command course and who is going to go through everything we have-fairness at work, civil litigation, complaints-that we ought to be learning more from, rather than just counting the numbers of complaints. I think it is a fair challenge and I want to know what the real picture is, so far as I can ever understand it.

Q13 Mr Winnick: Commissioner, I am clear about the position regarding the question of surprise, and I apologise for misunderstanding, but one thing is quite clear. The National Black Police Association have written to us, and they do not seem to have been at all surprised by this unfortunate incident. As is pointed out in their letter, the number of black officers in the Metropolitan Police remains pretty low, percentage-wise. Can you remind us what percentage are actually black?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: It has just gone over 10% and I think it is around 3,200.

Q14 Mr Winnick: Yes, and in the most senior positions, from commanders upwards, black-

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I couldn’t give you exact numbers, although we could offer them, but I think it is something in the order of two or three people at the moment, although we are about to select a further-

Q15 Mr Winnick: That is above commander?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: That is right.

Q16 Chair: You have one borough commander in Harrow and you have one borough commander in the north of London?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Sorry, I think Mr Winnick asked a slightly different question. I think you were talking about commanders, as in a chief police officer, as opposed to a borough commander, which is chief superintendent.

Q17 Chair: So, above commander level what do you have?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Could I just clarify, is that Mr Winnick’s definition?

Mr Winnick: Yes, above commander level.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Above borough commander, all right. At the moment, and I will check numbers for you, I think we have two out of around 30 people who are from either mixed race or from a minority group, but we are just about to employ a new Deputy Assistant Commissioner, which will change that number, and we are in the process of selecting some new commanders, which may change that profile too. But the straight answer to your question is, something in the order of two out of about 30.

Q18 Mr Winnick: Yes; and can you give us the figure for commanders?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I will certainly do my best, even in this meeting, if I can, to give you the exact number.

Mr Winnick: Yes.

Chair: That would be helpful. Thank you.

Q19 Mr Winnick: The final question is simply this. Do you, as the newly appointed Commissioner, believe more could be done to recruit people from the black and Asian community and, if so, what steps are being taken?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Yes. In fact, I think my predecessors should get credit for the steps they put in place. For example, at the moment we are recruiting. As you know, the rest of the country is actually reducing the number of police officers but, because we have had support we are going to have an extra £90 million this year, which we were not expecting, and we are recruiting now. Two strands of work have really been helpful. We are taking police community support officers as one group, and the others are special constables, so people who have been in either of those categories have been the ones we have recruited. The reason that is really important is that of the PCSOs we employ, about one in three are from minority groups, and it is about 28%-so not far off one in three-of the specials. My point would be that the majority of the times we recruit in London it is in those two groups, and over the years we have recruited many people from outside London.

So this surge we are getting-I was at a passing-out parade on Friday, which consisted of 268 new recruits. We have a recruit entry in the next few weeks of about 500. In that group we should have more people coming through. So I think there is hope for the future. But I have said as well that, on the back of the Winsor report, I do support lateral entry.

Chair: We will be coming on to Winsor in a second.

Q20 Mark Reckless: Commissioner, lest anyone think this is a Metropolitan Police issue only, can you confirm how many black or minority ethnic senior officers are at ACPO level across the country as a whole?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I am afraid I can’t, but I will find out for you and pass that back. I do know it is not a massive number. I wouldn’t try to suggest otherwise.

Q21 Mark Reckless: I served as a member of the Kent Police Authority, which I think was the only police authority that appointed as chief constable an excellent black chief officer. On simply the numbers, which I think may even be zero now, surely there is an urgent need to deal with this. Regarding what Winsor says about lateral entry, but also the ability to bring in chief constables from other common law jurisdictions, don’t we need to see both those methods used in order to have senior representation urgently?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: What I agree with is the lateral entry, which I know the Chair wants to come to later, but I have to respond to that particular question. I think Winsor says two things. First of all, allowing people to come in at a higher level stops having to wait a generation for change. Even if we only have 10% or 12% within a few years, it will still take a while for those people to progress in the normal way. So Winsor says two things: allow people to come in at superintendent or inspector; and accelerate the promotion of those people you already have in a way that you never have before-so miss ranks out and do things quicker. Those two things I support. I don’t support recruiting foreign nationals unless we agree that for the head of the Security Service, the head of Defence-anything where national security is an issue. So of all the recommendations in Winsor, I think that is the only one I would challenge. You might say that is fairly self-interested. It is not intended to be, but it is a straight answer to the particular point you raise.

Q22 Mark Reckless: In Canada or the United States we have many excellent top chief police officers who are black minority ethnic background, who have had incredible achievements there. You don’t think we should be allowed to appoint them in this country?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: One of the difficulties if we do that-and there is an argument for it, I understand-is that you then have to have a list of countries that are acceptable or not.

Mark Reckless: Common law countries, I think, policing by consent-the United States and common law countries.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Even in those countries sometimes you might come to a different conclusion about the sort of policing you would require. It is based in part on the constitution, I accept; it is based in part on legal process, but there are other things that go into place as well. The only thing I flag up is it seems to me that if that is to happen then some discussion will need to take place about which countries are acceptable or not. Frankly, the biggest argument you have is the European Union. People have a right to employment in this country, apart from if they are in certain employment. I don’t want to open up that particular debate. I only stress that it is a complex discussion that I think needs to take place.

Q23 Mark Reckless: Winsor is very clear that that would not be acceptable for policing in this country.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: The question is if it is okay for the Commonwealth, why is it not okay for the European Union? My broad point is that foreign nationals involved in issues of national security-my role has a remit around counter-terrorism throughout this country. We have counter-terrorist units in the regions. We have counter-terrorist intelligence units in other police forces, and the special branch in some of the smaller forces still plays a part in national security. If we are content that we have that sort of involvement then that is fine, but I don’t think it is the only role that we should have that discussion about.

Mark Reckless: But given that-

Chair: Mr Reckless, we will come back to this when we visit Winsor. We are just dealing with all the other issues first. Nicola Blackwood, sorry, we were taken down a road by Mr Reckless.

Q24 Nicola Blackwood: Obviously in the wake of the riots, having so many allegations of racism in the Met in the news is incredibly damaging to public confidence. You have given us a number of examples of ways in which you intend to try to address this problem with public confidence, but there has been the proposal from, I think, the Metropolitan Black Police Association to put in place a new body, modelled on the Lawrence Steering Group, to provide ongoing monitoring of race relations between the police and different BME communities. How do you respond to that? Do you think that would be a positive thing? Is that something you would support? Do you think that the level of independence that that would offer would be helpful at this point in starting again?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I would not necessarily support it. I support the idea of having independence in there and openness and transparency, which the Chair raised at the beginning. But there is an Equality and Human Rights Commission, which presumably has rights, responsibilities and duties in relation to this. So what is their role within this? In terms of the corruption issue, which the Chair raised particularly around the Lawrence inquiry, where is the IPCC’s locus? That is the body that Parliament and the Government decided to put in place. It has powers. So I suppose what I would want to test is where those two bodies are deficient, or what does not reassure the public in terms of what powers they have or how they exercise their powers. So that is a very straight answer to the point about whether it should be a separate body.

Is there a role for the Met, in particular, being more transparent and held to account? I am perfectly happy to look at any model, but in general I think we would need to work out what those two bodies are going to do to reassure the public too.

Q25 Nicola Blackwood: In your experience in dealing with different race relations challenges, do you find that there is public confidence in the IPCC or in the Equality and Human Rights Commission?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: It would be a little unfair for me to come here and comment on other organisations when I could be criticised about, and certainly asked questions and challenged about, what the Met are doing.

Q26 Nicola Blackwood: On this specific issue within those communities?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I see that. It is just that I don’t know whether I can speak genuinely on behalf of the people of London, and particularly the groups that might be-

Nicola Blackwood: Just the comments that you have received.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: From time to time you hear criticism of the IPCC, but I am not sure that I could say that there are any more than for my organisation or any others.

Q27 Nicola Blackwood: You do not think that there is a need for a new body?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I wouldn’t argue for that. Could they get better? I am sure they would accept that, perhaps, and I know they have a new chair. I am sure she will set a new direction and I want to support her in that, but I wouldn’t argue for a new body. I am not sure the evidence is there. I think you are right in saying that some people want more reassurance about how they carry out their duties, but that could be said of many of us.

Q28 Chair: Just completing this section of questions before we move on to Winsor, were you disappointed about the activities of the CPS? Do you think that they should have made a decision positively right at the start of this, and not following a long delay in representations? Would that have dealt with this matter more efficiently?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Not really. The difficulty I have in answering that question is I still haven’t seen the file on which they had to rely. It is a bit unfair of me to second-guess. To be fair to them, anybody who is criticised and then goes back and looks and then changes their mind, it is a bit unfair to say-at the very least they are open-minded. They have gone back and looked and they have made a new decision. I don’t know what information they had in the first place. I know some of it, because we heard it in the public domain, but I am afraid I don’t know the rest of the evidence, so I wouldn’t try to second-guess them.

Q29 Chair: Sure. Are you satisfied with the composition of the standards boards that you have within the police? Do you think that they properly represent the police service as a whole? There are allegations that we have received that there are not enough ethnic minority people on those boards. In dealing with the initial complaint, which is what you want to do, if it is a complaint within your organisation, you want to sort it out, don’t you? You don’t want it to go outside if you can sort it out internally. Do you think that the composition ought to be looked at?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I am just not sure which board it is you mean.

Chair: The board that deals with complaints of racism within the Met.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: You mean the misconduct panels we have, or-

Chair: Probably, yes.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: The way it is dealt with in the Met at the moment is that, because of the size of the organisation, there is one commander that sits broadly as a misconduct panel supported by superintendents. On some occasions the IPCC can place people as part of that panel. Could there be better representation in that group? Possibly. The commander who-

Q30 Chair: Do you know what it is at the moment? Are there any black and Asian people in the group?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: There is one commander who does that for the Met. That is his full-time job. He happens to be white.

Q31 Chair: Who is that?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: It is a commander whose name is-it is a good question. I can see his face. Julian Bennett is the man who does it.

Q32 Chair: He is supported by others?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: He is supported by other superintendents. The minority composition of those boards I don’t know offhand, but I certainly will discover it for you.

Chair: That would be very helpful. Can we move on to the Winsor Review. Dr Julian Huppert.

Q33 Dr Huppert: Well, what is your initial impression of it?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I quite like it, actually. There are a lot of good challenges in there, and there are a lot of recommendations. I will not commit myself to every one, but I would have thought on the whole it is in the right direction. There are some issues that I have already highlighted, which I definitely support. I do support lateral entry. If you had asked me seven years ago I would not have, but I do now. I support the fact that officers ought to be fit to help their colleagues and to help the public, so I think that is a good thing. I also support the fact that officers should be rewarded by the effort and skills they have, rather than by longevity of service in a post. So those are some fundamental things that I agree with. I have indicated one area with which I wouldn’t necessarily agree. I am sure if we went through every recommendation, I might have the odd point to make, but overall I think it is a report that we needed at this time, and even if three quarters of it was implemented, probably we would be in a better place in five to 10 years’ time.

That does not mean to say that my staff will agree with me. The federation, in particular, and a lot of staff have challenged me. They do not like to see redundancy for police officers. Their broad point is that this is something that has never been there, and they don’t think it should be. It actually interferes with the fact that they are Crown servants; they now start to look like employees, and they would say the employer is trying to have it both ways. I don’t happen to agree with that, but there is a body of opinion within the service, which I think I ought fairly to represent, that in particular they find a challenge.

Q34 Dr Huppert: Which bits of the report do you think would be hardest to implement successfully in the Met? Which would give you the greatest concern, either from a policy directive or from a satisfaction-

Bernard Hogan-Howe: There is a recommendation that if an officer becomes unfit, is not fit enough to carry out a certain job, they will take an 8% pay cut. In principle that sounds fine, but there is an effect because of the way that pensions work in the final three years of an officer’s service. At the moment their pension is calculated on their final years’ service. You might say, "Well, that is just what happens". In the final three years of their service they would have a double whammy: they would get an 8% pay cut and it would have an impact long term on their non-earning years. That may be where the negotiations settle, but I only offer it as an example of the complexity in some of the proposals, even though fundamentally, I think it is a good idea regarding that pay reduction.

Q35 Dr Huppert: But to take the example, let us say, of a very experienced detective-presumably detectives have less call for running after people-would it be sensible to give them a pay cut?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Well, it may not be but that goes to the heart of how you impose a common standard of fitness. If you have a common standard of fitness-if you are a response officer with 29 years’ service and you are expected to still be able to run, fight and do all the other things that they have to do, and yet as a detective you are not expected to do that; if you are fortunate enough to be selected to be a detective presumably you are not at risk of losing your physical fitness standard, whereas if you remain on the front line, which is what we are encouraging our officers to do, you run that risk at the very least. So I think it is that type of thing that we will have to work through. I wouldn’t want that to detract from my overall support for officers keeping themselves fit, not just through the professional attitude of, "I want to keep fit for my job", but also finding a way motivating them through salary and terms and conditions.

Q36 Dr Huppert: Which bits do you think will be likely to be easy for the Met to adopt very satisfactorily for everybody? Where do you think the easy wins are in it?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Even though I have just highlighted one or two things, once we send a message that we want people to keep fit, I think that will happen fairly quickly-just to say, "This is an expectation". We can help people to do that but it is an expectation, the way the fire service have had it for a long time. I think the fact that we are going to reward, by salary, skills and endeavour, not by 14 years’ service or 17 years’ service, starts to change their mindsets and is relatively straightforward to deliver. I think lateral entry will have its challenges, but once we get going we will be okay. There will be a few challenges along the way, which I think we can overcome. You may help me at some point. I am trying to remember all the recommendations, but the ones that I think are the most important I would say, broadly, there is a fair chance of achieving them. There is a bit of work to do in negotiation about exactly what the proposal will mean.

Q37 Chair: There were no fitness tests suggested for commissioners but they were for junior officers. Do you agree that some of your officers need to be put through a fitness test?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I said as a result of Winsor that I think I ought to take it again. I last took it about three years ago, and I now have 32 or 33 years’ service. I am 54 years old. I am no superman, but it is not that hard. I think with the present standard it is not expecting too much, and the first things you have to look at are issues of weight and how people keep themselves fit. There are things that people can do to prepare. The standards are not incredible. So I think, whether it be a commissioner, a commander or whatever, we as a management board say we will do it.

Q38 Chair: But your members, people who serve with you, of the Police Federation are demonstrating on 10 May. They are very upset about Winsor. How are you going to try to help sell this proposal?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I am not sure it is exactly for me to sell because it is not my proposal, but I think what we can show is that we are going to address it carefully by negotiations. What you have to understand for the police service is two things. First of all, this is a lot of recommendations for the police to absorb. Secondly, it is on the back of other issues, such as changes to pension. As we said earlier, there are fewer police officers, there is always more work and there are more demands. So I think if you put that lot together, it is not-although there will be challenges, right at the beginning our officers need to get it right, and the vast majority of them do a fantastic job 24 hours a day. It is a pretty difficult job. It is all right somebody like me sitting here being very clear about the principles, the concepts and all the rest of it, but at 3 am it gets a bit hard. So that is their life, and I understand why, when they have all that pressure of their job and an unremitting challenge, and suddenly their terms and conditions are changed, it is pretty hard to believe that you are being loved. It is my job as a leader to highlight that I think we can achieve more in the future with some of these changes, and some can be modified. But we have to understand that they feel under a lot of pressure and they see their terms and conditions, their pensions, and all the other things proposed in this report could have a significant effect on their life, and if you have a mortgage it matters.

Q39 Mark Reckless: Commissioner, at a similar age I must say you look almost as fit and spry as Mr Winsor himself.

You said earlier about people being paid to leave. One area where there are concerns among constables and sergeants who are going to have the Winsor conditions is that the Met should be seen to be spending money well and appropriately in all areas. I don’t think you were on the watch at the time, but the Director of Internal Audit at the Met, Peter Tickner, left the service, I understand, subject to a compromise agreement, and there are concerns that, having raised serious issues of spending within the Met, he was then paid a sum of money conditional on not speaking further about those issues. Do you think that was appropriate?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: The only thing I would probably reserve my position on is that, although I know Peter and worked with him when I was last at the Met-

Q40 Chair: Do you have the name of this individual?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Peter Tickner. He was a very well-regarded, tenacious person. I am afraid I don’t know the circumstances of his leaving, and I know that there is also a connection, I think, with a witness statement that he gave to the Leveson inquiry. So the only thing I can say, because I honestly don’t know the details of the circumstances of his leaving or any agreement that was reached with him, is I am afraid I can’t speak on that.

Q41 Mark Reckless: I understand that. Could I then just ask, if Mr Tickner was agreeable, would you be prepared-given a confidentiality agreement-personally to speak with him about his concerns and to consider whether sufficient action was taken before you took over to deal with some of the issues that he tried to raise?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Could you leave it, Chair, that I am at least open-minded to that option? Without knowing what the issue was of his leaving, or the agreement, I would just be a little circumspect. But otherwise Peter is an able person whom I know, so I wouldn’t be objecting in principle.

Mark Reckless: Thank you.

Q42 Michael Ellis: I want to move on to police numbers. It is not actually unconnected with race relations, because it is not unconnected with stop and search. I have some concerns about stop-and-search issues and the effect that that has on some communities in the Metropolitan Police area. I would be interested to know whether you agree with me that that has a deleterious effect on those communities, the stop-and-search practices. But the focus is on numbers, and the Mayor of London has pointed out that there are 1,000 more police officers on the streets now than there were four years ago. Are you confident that you will continue to see numbers improve under your management and control?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: First of all, in terms of stop and search, you have a statistical disproportionality within the figures. The biggest concern for me is young, usually black, boys or men who are repeatedly stopped when they are innocent of anything in the past and they are very unlikely to be guilty of anything in the future. It is not the one-off event; it is the multiple times they are stopped, and I struggle to explain that. So that is one of the big things. When I talk to people-we have a public meeting, for example, every four weeks-that comes up time and time again. For me that was the big driver-forget the stats-the number of people I talked to who said, "This doesn’t feel right".

The second issue around stop and search is-even if it is someone who has a criminal background, who may be carrying a knife or whatever-the way that it is handled needs to be professional and we need to deal with it in a reasonable manner. That has led to all the work we will be announcing in the next few weeks on how we are going to train people better, accredit them, and various other things that I hope people will be able to support. We have already seen a 17% reduction in the number of section 60 searches, which are the ones where a superintendent puts an order on an area, because we think we are doing too many of those. So we have seen a reduction in that by a number. But it is not necessarily the number; it is that it is going to be a smart way, and I will not bore you with all our plans, but we will announce that. So I am agreeing with you that I think stop and search is a big issue, and I hope you will see in the next few weeks that we are taking that seriously. We have a good plan.

Q43 Michael Ellis: You mentioned knives, and of course that is not unconnected with the stop-and-search issue. Some 12,000 knives have been taken off the streets in the last four years. Do you put that down to effective beat policing, and would you like to see the numbers of extra police on the beat increase as they have done in the last four years?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: First of all, it has to be part of your routine policing. In terms of numbers, as you say there may have been an increase over the last few years but what we have already announced-I think about eight weeks ago-is that we know that we can get 2,000 of our 32,300 police officers on to the street. So that is for people-

Michael Ellis: That is very important. You know you can do that?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Well, that is the start. So of the people we know are in the back office, we know we can get 2,000 out into the boroughs, whether it be response or neighbourhoods, but that is the start not the finish. That is the promise I make-2,000 more will be out. Where we need to do more work is around what the other numbers are. There are not insignificant numbers whom we think could be better employed doing the front-line operational rather than support roles.

Q44 Chair: Just on the issue of how to deploy your officers at a time of reductions, have you seen the proposal in South Yorkshire, by David Crompton, that the PCSOs should be the link people as far as beat officers are concerned? Is this something you are likely to repeat in London?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I hesitate to comment on South Yorkshire, although I came from there, because I have not fully understood what the proposal is. It seems to change every time I hear it. So I am just not sure. I have heard one version that the PCSOs would have extra powers. Another suggestion seemed to be that they would replace police officers. A third one is perhaps as the Chair has described.

I think the only thing I can say for the Met is I do not see any extension of PCSO powers. I do not see that PCSOs will replace patrolling police officers in the vital work they do with neighbourhoods. They have a role to carry out, but in the Met it will not be replacing police.

Q45 Lorraine Fullbrook: Commissioner, since your appointment and the comments that you made to the Leveson inquiry, do you think the relationship between the Metropolitan Police and certain sectors of the media has become dysfunctional?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I hope not dysfunctional. Certainly that challenge was put in Leveson, but I think there are two or three pieces of evidence that that is not the case. The first thing is we maintain a professional relationship around the reporting of crime. They are still reporting crime; we are still giving them briefings. We have a Crime Reporters Association meeting, which occurs I think it is about every six to eight weeks, where they meet with either the Commissioner or a member of the management board, and that is still continuing. What we have put a stop to is the informal meetings that no one knew about. It is that that we have changed. All we have said is that if there is a meeting, we are not trying to stop the meeting but it should be declared somewhere, so if someone wants to come afterwards and say, "Well, why are you meeting that person every week? Why are you seeing them always having a drink? Why are you always having a meal?" the very first thing we have is transparency. That has led to some of those more informal meetings stopping. I hope it is not dysfunctional, but I think it should be more professional. At the very least what I had to do, having taken over the Met and with Lord Justice Leveson sitting, was to get a level playing field from which he might decide, actually, we have set the bar too high. I would be better criticised, I think, for having too high a standard than for perpetuating one that is perceived as too low.

Q46 Lorraine Fullbrook: Given the comments you made about press briefings and briefings that were not to be reported, do you think that unauthorised leaks should be investigated more thoroughly?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I think what I said at Leveson I stand by, which is that I don’t think you should investigate every leak, because we could drive ourselves crackers. The "however" is that if it is a leak of secret information, if it is a leak relating to a criminal justice process, if it is a leak that shows dishonesty in some respects or that a crime has occurred, then I think there is no doubt that you have to have a leak inquiry, but I think there is just a reasonableness test. That is the only thing I would say. If we were to investigate every leak, whether it be our organisation or any other, then I think we would actually diminish ourselves. I don’t think it is necessary.

Q47 Lorraine Fullbrook: When you say that you would drive yourself crazy by investigating the number of leaks, how many leaks do you actually have?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I don’t know. It depends how you judge it. There are those-

Q48 Lorraine Fullbrook: How do you know when you don’t know?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I suppose the first thing is you could deduce it to some extent by what you see in the newspapers.

Q49 Chair: When you read the Evening Standard you know there is a leak; is that right?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Yes. It is never clear who from, obviously. I think the first thing is that we know of some of the leaks when we see the reports in the newspapers and on the TV, but I don’t know how many leaks there were that they did not report or what led to the context of them putting a certain story on the front page in the first place, because it is not always the original one.

Q50 Lorraine Fullbrook: Are you saying that you could still drive yourself crazy investigating the known leaks?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I think you could. I was challenged at Leveson that we set the bar too high-exactly your first challenge-that we are going to be dysfunctional in our dealings with journalists. We have to strike a balance, but I just think that if we went after every single silly little comment-say I meet a journalist or one of my officers meets a journalist coming out of a conference or out of a court and says something that they later regret; does that need a leak inquiry? I am not sure it does. So I think in human interaction, people will say things they either don’t intend or they later regret. You have to look at the consequences, and if the harm that has been caused is severe, then the very least we have to do is to find out why that happened to reassure people.

Q51 Mr Winnick: When very senior Met officers came before us in the past and questions were asked, including one or two from myself, about contacts with the media-social contacts, dinners and the rest-the response was always along the same lines that there is nothing particularly wrong, that there is a necessity to keep in touch with the media for obvious reasons, or at least it was considered for obvious reasons from the Met’s point of view. Would you now accept that it went too far, certainly in the light of some of the questions and answers that were given at the Leveson inquiry?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I think so. I did say that. I think the words I used were that I was surprised when I arrived at the Met about the frequency and extent of the socialising.

Q52 Michael Ellis: Commissioner, on the Olympic security arrangements, are you particularly concerned after the University Boat Race incident? The fact of the matter is that one idiot seemed to be able to cause significant disruption, and I think one of the captains of the teams pointed out that they had worked for nine months towards a goal that was spoiled by one individual in an act of self-aggrandisement. The Diamond Jubilee river pageant is coming up. There are going to be 1,000 boats on the River Thames, the largest waterborne event for hundreds of years. We have the Olympic arrangements, including some on the river. Do you think that Olympic security arrangements or Diamond Jubilee security arrangements need to be reviewed in the light of that? I particularly also want to ask you about the penalties available, because I notice from media coverage that the individual who disrupted the boat race appears to have been charged with a section 5 offence under the Public Order Act 1986, which is one of the most minor offences in the book, carries no custodial penalty option at all and usually only results in a small fine. Do we need to look at available offences?

Chair: Commissioner, can we have a briefer answer?

Michael Ellis: No, no, I would like an answer. I try not to be as long as Mr Winnick and his questions, but I am doing my best.

Chair: Anyway, Commissioner.

Mr Winnick: Do I have a reply to that?

Michael Ellis: No, no, I don’t reply to your-

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I do know that the CPS are reviewing whether a more serious charge is possible, given the circumstances. So I think they have one charge and they are reviewing whether another one could be more appropriate. That is not straightforward.

In terms of the general security around the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics-particularly the Diamond Jubilee because for the Olympics we do not have an event on the Thames-there are events, as you know, on the Serpentine in Hyde Park. I think the triathlon is operating there. So we are reviewing our security arrangements for that. The only thing we said, both to Ministers and as I will repeat here, is there is a limit when we have Olympic events and Jubilee events in public space as to what we can achieve. Whether it be the marathon that stretches out over 26 miles-although I think this one happens to be three eight-mile circuits-or a river event, there are some limits, but we have still gone back and had a look. We believe that we are going to be in a position to make sure that both the Queen and other significant people who are within that pageant are kept safe. Obviously, we are looking at them as individuals. We are looking at where in the river we can have most effect, because one of the bottom lines in terms of those who might want to swim in it is that they have to get to where they want to be, and unless they are Olympic swimmers themselves they are going to take a while.

So there are various pragmatic things we are looking at to make sure that that does not happen again. But I have to sit here and tell you I can’t guarantee that when we have large events in public spaces there will not be an embarrassment involving somebody protesting. Our main issue is to make sure that people are kept safe.

Q53 Michael Ellis: You are keeping the arrangements under review?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: We have started already and we are working with others to make sure that we improve what we already have in place.

Chair: That is very helpful.

Q54 Alun Michael: I do not think declarations of interest were invited when we moved from private investigators on to policing issues.

Chair: I am sorry, I did not.

Alun Michael: My interest is that I have been shortlisted for selection to stand for election as a police and crime commissioner in South Wales.

Questioning a different sort of commissioner, I have two questions that follow up on the answers you gave us on 11 October, when you went into some detail about the way you saw the forthcoming role. The first one is, how are you coping with the organisational challenge of leading the Met? It is by far our biggest police service and our evidence over the last year showed assistant commissioners treating each other like medieval barons, with silos of responsibility and a high degree of autonomy. Does your vision include creating a single force with the same standards right across it, and how are you pursuing that?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Yes, but I don’t underestimate the challenge. First of all, I think one thing that is going to help us-the first five months have been about selecting a new chief officer team. You will be aware that the Deputy Commissioner has been retired and is being replaced-two new Assistant Commissioners. So that team over the last two months is just settling down, and in the coming three months we will have three new heads of our support departments, who will then form a new management team. So we will have a new Director of Resources. For the first time for a couple of years we will have a Director of HR, personnel, which I think is essential with 53,000 people. Then finally we will have a new Head of Communications, press officers as was. Within the next three months I believe we will then have a more settled team, but we are finding the people that we have are a good team, people who work together well. They were selected for that reason; they are professionally competent and I think they are credible within and without the organisation.

On your point about how the silos work together, I have set a very clear tone, in that I expect 53,000 people to work together as a team. So we use the term "total policing" but the core of that is that 53,000 people working as a team will achieve far more than four silos.

Q55 Alun Michael: Will the chain of command between you and the police on the street be any shorter? It is a very long one compared to the forces that you have worked in around the country, isn’t it?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: It is down to their judgment, really, but I hope they have found me more accessible, as I hope the people of London have. Every four weeks I either meet a large group of the Met or I meet a large group of Londoners. So we have had a meeting every four weeks in a different borough of London and invited the people in the adjacent boroughs to come, and the same has happened for people in the Met. Both groups can get hold of me on the intranet or the internet. Every four weeks we have an internet session where we get 30 or 40 people who ask, "Commissioner, what are you doing about this?" The same goes too for the public. I have a briefing every Friday morning at 7.30 am, in either the New Scotland Yard canteen or whichever canteen we can get to. If you want to come and have a chat I will be there having breakfast, and that has led to some interesting questions involving sometimes up to 20 people. So I hope they will find me accessible.

The final thing is that I look at all my mail and, as perhaps members of this Committee might have found, I look at all my e-mails. I can’t reply to them all but when people take the time to e-mail me they get a response. They don’t always like the response, but they do get a straight answer, and often, the vast majority of times, they either have good ideas or refer to things I should know about. So I am not going to pretend that with 50,000-odd people spread around 98 management units I am going to know everything, because that will never be the case. But the other thing is to listen to the representative bodies. We do have elected people throughout London. We have people who represent the Federation, the BPA, and the Superintendents’ Association, and I hope they will regard me as someone whom they can approach, and if I can do something to improve things I always will. That is not a knockdown argument, but I hope that people would say the first six months have been marked by a willingness to be held to account.

Q56 Alun Michael: The other thing that you covered-because that is about leadership and relationships-was you were quite clear with us about the core mission. How are you developing on the ComStat type of approach to driving down crime in each borough and locality? Are you finding it possible to refresh the sort of partnership approach? I am looking at the way in which the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 required crime and disorder partnerships. Is that something that you are seeking to refresh? How is that working?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: First of all, ComStat has started and I think now we have had about three months of that. What is quite interesting, given your first question about the silos in policing, is that the Serious and Organised Crime part of the Met has adopted the same style. What often helps with ComStat is you ask the territorial policing BCUs, the basic command units, what are you doing about burglary? What are you doing about anti-social behaviour? But we don’t seem to have over the years developed the same rigour around murder and rape. That has started, and it will continue. It is something I have always believed in anyway, and it is something I have started in the Met, so that every four weeks I want to know what IT are doing, what HR are doing, and what the Transport Department is doing towards this fight against crime. So ComStat can work at different levels. It is about making open what you are doing and making sure the person at the top understands the challenges, and sometimes ask a few challenging questions.

In terms of the crime and disorder partnerships, we have not particularly sought to refresh them. My experience on the whole in London is they seem to be working pretty well. There will be ones that are a bit weaker. One thing that this Mayor and Deputy Mayor, and I am sure future mayors, will do is refresh the Crime Reduction Board that sits right across London. I have proposed that there are four areas we can work better on. I think there are four big things that can help reduce crime: work around alcohol, work around drugs and design, because that is the thing that has reduced car crime in buildings on the whole. The fourth one, which is not the cause of crime but is a really important factor, is young people who are disproportionately represented as victims or offenders. If we can do more, together with local authorities and other partners, around those four issues, I think we will make a real impact.

Q57 Chair: So you support the minimum price for alcohol that the Government have been proposing and this Committee recommended four years ago?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I would have to say yes now, wouldn’t I, Chairman? But the answer is yes, although I don’t think alone it can do the thing. One of the things that I had a growing concern about over time was what used to be licensing-the old needs test. Whether it be an on-licence or an off-licence, did this area need another licence? That has gone away, and I think we have suffered as a result of that. I would find a way of re-imposing it. In Scotland they have re-imposed it by having a health test. They said, "Can this area sustain another off-licence?" It is vitally important for social behaviour, because what we have done is devolved control over alcohol to quite junior people, probably 18 years old, who are paid the minimum wage or something near to it, and then when 20 young people turn up, expect them to stop them taking alcohol. I think it is a danger.

Q58 Chair: Three very quick points. Those who have been replaced by your new team-including Pat Gallan who has come in from Merseyside-have gone off to quite lucrative positions in the private sector. I think Mr Yates is in Bahrain, Mr Godwin is in another private sector company dealing with Olympic security. I am not sure what has happened to Mr Fedorcio. But are you concerned about the ease with which senior officers leave the force and go off into the private sector, in some cases dealing with people they have dealt with before? I am not talking about newspapers here. I am talking about those with an interest in security. Do you think there should be perhaps a small pause between taking up new appointments?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I would have to declare an interest, in the way that Mr Michael did, but first of all-

Chair: You are not going anywhere for seven years.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Well, I hope not anyway, but you never know. But I think for me the starting point is that I suppose police officers are no different from anybody else. They seek to have continued employment. If we are going to distinguish them from others, we have to define on what basis. That said, there are certain roles that I think at the very least there should be a cooling-off period for, I agree. So is it someone you have contracted with in the past; an organisation you have been involved with that you might contract with in the future? There are issues around the media, and so on. So I think there are some roles for which we ought to have a wise separation of power.

Q59 Chair: I hear that they are selling your flat, we understand.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Yes.

Q60 Chair: Does that leave you homeless in London?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: No, Chairman, it doesn’t. It is just that I thought that-well, there are two reasons.

Q61 Chair: Did you take that decision?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Yes.

Q62 Chair: Having looked at it first?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Yes.

Q63 Chair: Why did you make that decision?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: It was not something that was particularly attractive to us, but it just seemed like it was probably quite an expensive investment that we could probably use for another reason, and at this time probably not the best way we could spend the money. So I have not made this public. Others have chosen to make it public.

Chair: It was in the papers yesterday.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Yes, but it wasn’t my choice. That decision was made five, six-

Q64 Lorraine Fullbrook: Was that a leak?

Chair: Authorised.

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Can I say that that decision was made six months ago. It wasn’t made yesterday.

Q65 Chair: But you will have somewhere to live? You are not dossing somewhere?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Yes; I have never professed that I am homeless. That is not the point.

Mr Winnick: You do not want to rent it yourself, do you?

Q66 Chair: Since you are here, and you are the local top policeman, you probably know that a parliamentary question released yesterday shows there were 13 reported thefts within the Palace of Westminster over the last few months. Did you see that?

Bernard Hogan-Howe: I did.

Chair: Including trolleys, books, printers and laptops. Could you have a word with the chap in charge here to see whether they can-

Bernard Hogan-Howe: Yes, Chairman; it is a concern, isn’t it? It must be one of the most secure places to get into and get out of. So it does leave the question-the other thing that I would encourage any organisation that has experienced that level of theft to do is to make sure they are not misplaced.

Chair: Commissioner, as always, thank you very much for coming in. We will hold you to your commitments, as far as what you said at the beginning concerning race, and we look forward to keeping in touch with you. Thank you very much.

Prepared 9th May 2012