Metropolitan Police Commissioner

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 2nd August 2022.

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Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

The Home Secretary and I have agreed that Sir Mark Rowley [QPM] is the best person to lead the MPS as the new Commissioner [of Police of the Metropolis] at this extremely challenging time.

A series of appalling scandals alongside failing performance have not only exposed deep cultural problems within the MPS but have contributed to a crisis of confidence in London’s police service. It is crucial that the new Commissioner prioritises improving performance and rebuilding the public’s trust and confidence in the police, which is so vital to policing by consent. This should include root-and-branch reforms to ensure the MPS can deliver the basics better, an overhaul of disciplinary processes, and systemic changes to the MPS culture. I have been clear that the new Commissioner must have a clear plan to win back trust and confidence and address the deep cultural issues that we know exist in the police in relation to sexism, misogyny, racism, homophobia and discrimination.

It is also important that Londoners hear the new leadership of the MPS publicly acknowledge the scale and depth of the problems we have seen in the force. This will be a crucial first step for the new Commissioner to begin rebuilding trust and confidence with London’s communities.

The new Commissioner will not be able to fix these problems alone and he needs to be ready to bring in outside expertise and oversight to ensure he can deliver the systemic organisational change from top to bottom that is required. He needs to ensure every rank and part of the MPS is working towards a shared goal and that all staff are being held to account for delivering on the values Londoners rightly expect from their police force.

Sir Mark has demonstrated that he is the right person to lead this change and the experience he has gained outside policing over the last four years and previously from other forces in the country will bring a valuable new perspective to the MPS. I look forward to supporting him and working closely with the Home Secretary as we work to restore trust and confidence in the police.

Photo of Joanne McCartney Joanne McCartney Labour

Thank you, Mr Mayor. You have been clear that you want a reforming Commissioner. [Sir] Mark Rowley says he has a 100-day plan to make change. What internal reforms do you believe are needed?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

The sort of reforms that I talked about in the speech I recently delivered on police reform. I set out a number of things that need to be addressed in addition to what I said in my answer to your first question.

Yes, at the same time as getting the bread-and-butter issues right and a first-class emergency response, we need more robust vetting of new and serving police officers. Our recruitment process has to be changed to make sure we get only the best people for the job. We need to have far-ranging changes on the misconduct process. That has to happen. We need to ensure that the police have proactive measures to weed out those who should never have been allowed to become police officers in the first place. We have to address some of the issues raised by HMICFRS in relation to supervision, training, culture and overall performance.

Actually, one of the reasons why it is important is because those brave, dedicated, decent officers who are trying their best deserve the police’s top leadership to get this right, as does the public. Sir Mark is working on his plan. He wants to make sure he hits the ground running. We need to do what we can to, yes, challenge the police and also support them.

Photo of Joanne McCartney Joanne McCartney Labour

Thank you. You mentioned trust and confidence with the public. That is extremely low at the moment, particularly amongst Black Londoners, who have always had a lower confidence rate, but increasingly amongst women as well given recent challenges. [Sir] Mark Rowley has talked about the need for a renewal of policing by consent. What, in your mind, does that look like?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

What has been the pattern over the last four or five years? Black Londoners, women Londoners, myself and others raise issues. The police are defensive. They are in denial. We are criticised for holding the police to account. What we need is an acknowledgement and the right challenges in the police service. This is not a few rotten apples or some wrong ones, as some would claim. These are deep cultural issues that need to be addressed. That is what we hope to see from the new Commissioner as he prioritises the issues that matter to Londoners.

By the way, the more trust there is in policing, the less crime there will be, and so it is integral to policing by consent. Everyone is a winner when we can solve these issues. There is no downside, except for the criminals.

Photo of Joanne McCartney Joanne McCartney Labour

Indeed. It is clear that you have oversight of the police via MOPAC but the MPS retains operational control of how it goes about doing its job. Going forward, what oversight will MOPAC have and how will you ensure that the reforms are actually taking place?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

There are a number of things. It is worth reminding colleagues that the Police and Crime Committee of the GLA has oversight of the MPS with regular bills of clean health, the Home Affairs Select Committee, the Home Secretary, the Policing Minister and of course MOPAC as well. Of those people, only one category of those people has been consistent in expressing concerns about some of these issues that have been highlighted by the HMICFRS report.

MOPAC will work closely with the new Commissioner and his team in relation to the work we do with HMICFRS in relation to the Engage process. The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime recently attended a meeting with HMICFRS, with the acting Commissioner, and I will be meeting with them in September [2022] with the new Commissioner to discuss the action plan to respond to concerns raised by HMICFRS in the recent report that it presented.

There has to be a separate piece of engagement directly with Londoners. Clearly, work needs to be done to ensure that the MPS staff get it and understand the expectations on them. At the same time as doing the bread-and-butter issues, continuing to progress on reducing violent crime and so forth, it is really important that the issues of the systemic challenges raised by HMICFRS and also the issues of trust and confidence are dealt with.