Mayor’s Action Plan for improving transparency, accountability and trust in policing

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 29th November 2021.

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Photo of Caroline Russell Caroline Russell Green

Could you update me on your Action Plan for improving transparency, accountability and trust in policing?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Keeping our city safe relies on strong relationships between the police and all of London’s communities. That is why in November 2020 I published my Action Plan - Transparency, Accountability and Trust in Policing.

We have made good progress in the years since we published the action plan. The MPS has conducted a review of pre-arrest handcuffing and focused on recruitment and outreach to increase the number of Black recruits. It has also implemented community-led training to ensure new recruits understand the local communities and neighbourhoods they are serving, including training led by Londoners who have lived experience of stop and search. I have made £1.2 million available to the MPS over three years to support the progression and promotion of Black officers, and a further £700,000 to invest in community-led training programmes. The public attitudes survey has been extended to ensure the voices of London’s Black communities are better represented. Claire Waxman, London’s Victims’ Commissioner, has engaged directly with Black women survivors to ensure their experiences are better understood.

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) regularly publishes updates to provide transparency in the work it is doing and is also establishing an external reference group to further embed community experience and community expertise within our work. I have commissioned research into the effectiveness of cannabis enforcement in tackling violence and a review of community engagement and scrutiny functions to ensure Londoners’ voices are heard. The MPS has published its new policy on handcuffing, reiterating that handcuffing needs to be justifiable and properly recorded, with that justification clearly explained. Additional training for officers began last month, emphasising that handcuffing should not be routine.

I am grateful to all those involved including the many Londoners who continue to help shape this work, but we must be under no illusion about the scale of the challenges the action plan seeks to address. There are no quick fixes to the complex issues that affect all public institutions spanning across generations. This was shown, sadly, this week by Azeem Rafiq [former professional cricketer] and Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Improving the trust and confidence all Londoners have in their police service is one of the key themes of my draft Police and Crime Plan, which I launched for public consultation this week. The tragic murder of Sarah Everard by a serving policer office has further damaged public trust and confidence in our police service, and I have been very clear with the MPS about the changes the public need to see. As Mayor, I will continue to do everything in my power to champion these efforts to ensure London’s police service can regain the trust and confidence of the people it serves.

Photo of Caroline Russell Caroline Russell Green

Thank you, Mr Mayor. I appreciate you have been doing a lot of work on police powers, working with Black communities and working to ensure police better understand communities. I want to pick up on police accountability and disproportionality and raise with you a recent example of a lack of transparency.

In July [2021] I asked you about the demographics of people who had their e-scooters seized. My intention was to check whether there was any disproportionality. The response in September said and I quote, “The MPS does not have the data to be able to report against this,” and so I was very interested when the charity Possible recently used FOIs to the MPS to ask about the demographics of people stopped for e-scooter offences. These FOIs revealed that Black Londoners were over three times more likely to be stopped for e-scooter offences than white Londoners, and so the data clearly does exist and reveals a worrying disproportionality.

Your answer to the written question was not quite right and I understand that the MPS would have provided that information, but are you comfortable with that lack of transparency?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Chair, no. What the Member raises is a source of concern. If the information exists and it is easily providable, it should be provided, particularly when your function in a democracy is to hold me and the police to account. That is how we engender more confidence.

Can I, Chair, with your permission, take this away and speak to my Deputy Mayor [for Policing and Crime] and to you to see what went wrong and to reassure myself there are no other examples where things may have gone wrong?

Photo of Caroline Russell Caroline Russell Green

That would be great. I am not here to gotcha the police but, as you say, my job as an Assembly Member is to scrutinise and I cannot do that if I do not have that information. Now that I have made you aware of this, I welcome your response.

Can you also consider in the spirit of the transparency aim of your action plan to commit to reporting the data on e-scooter seizures so that it can be scrutinised to check for disproportionality, and will you add it to your action plan dashboard?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Chair, I am not sure how easy or difficult it is but let us work on the basis that it is not difficult. If that is the case, then we should provide it, not just to you but it should be provided. Can I, as part of the work that you are going to do with my Deputy Mayor and me, take that away as well. I do not see why, if it is the case that information is available, we are not providing it.

Photo of Caroline Russell Caroline Russell Green

Thank you very much. That is a welcome commitment. There are some outstanding actions that the MPS needs to do for the Police and Crime Committee that stretch back to 15 May 2018. That is over three and a half years ago, which is actually longer than your second term as Mayor is going to be. Only 34% of October’s written Mayor’s questions about policing were answered in the MOPAC-agreed timeframe, September was 61% and July only 37%. Will you speak to MOPAC and the MPS about their openness and transparency with the Assembly?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Yes. Chair, I am more than happy to. Of course I am. Some of that is simply bandwidth. What we are criticised for doing is having too many staff working for MOPAC and doing the accountability stuff that is so important in a democracy and trying to pivot the resources towards frontline services. We have to make sure we balance the resources around that. If it is the case that the staff who are there should be providing swifter responses, but they are not for other reasons, we will look into it.

Again, can I take that away and speak to my Deputy Mayor [for Policing and Crime] and the Chief Executive [of MOPAC] and see what the source is and why that is the case and rectify it?

Photo of Caroline Russell Caroline Russell Green

Thank you very much. That is very welcome. I have no further questions. I am out of time.