(POP0086)

 

Written evidence submitted by Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) (POP0086)

Home Affairs Select Committee’s Inquiry into Policing Priorities

What should a modern police service, fit for the 2020s and beyond, look like?

A modern day police service needs to first get the basics right: the Commissioner of the Met has outlined bold and ambitious plans for reform and is committed to building more trust, less crime and higher standards.

 

To deliver against these objectives and become a service fit for the 2020s and beyond, the leadership team must modernise the uniquely British invention of policing by consent – fixing the Met to be fit to serve London’s communities. This can only be achieved through an ambitious programme of reform.

 

In the Commissioner’s first 100 days, the Met is taking action to deliver on each of the priorities set out below and developing credible and sustainable plans to take them forward in the months ahead.

 

To deliver this agenda the Met will have a new mission and Board-level team, fully committed and focused on achieving excellence for London. In addition, an expert ‘Turnaround Board’ is providing external insight, with the aim of improving the Met’s structures, processes, policies and culture.

 

The transformation of the organisation has already started through a programme of work that focuses on the most critical areas of the business that need reform:

 

Precise community crime fighting

Community policing will be strengthened as it is the foundation of policing and the Met will develop a transparent and inclusive way to make choices about what it does and what it doesn’t do - seeking to prevent crime wherever possible but ready to tackle it effectively. Innovation Hubs in each of the 12 Basic Command Units will drive long-term engagement and joint initiatives to prevent crime and build confidence.

 

The organisation will also take a more victim centred approach to crime and a pledge to attend all home burglaries is just a start. The Met will improve how it handles calls from those needing help and the service provided to all victims of crime – especially the support received by the most vulnerable people including the victims of sexual offences.

 

This includes recording crime properly and improving initial investigations. The Met must and will improve how it looks after people - their support for police work is essential for officers to fulfil their privileged roles as their police. 

 

Strongest neighbourhood policing model

The Met will maximise the impact of its resources within communities and neighbourhoods but three in four people don’t know how to contact their local teams currently.

 

Therefore, the Met will strengthen the current neighbourhood policing model, giving London the strongest neighbourhood policing ever by investing in more local officers and an additional 1,600 PCSOs to create stronger more capable teams who know what matters to their communities and can build strong local partnerships to fix local problems.

 

Relentless data-driven delivery and innovation

The Met will relentlessly focus on its delivery to the public and continually monitor service performance. A central data hub is enabling the organisation to identify and understand problems so that those making tough calls on resources and tactics can see and respond to operational successes and failures.

 

A data-led approach will ensure the organisation is doing the right things at the right times and in the right ways, whilst being ready to respond to change and challenge. In the coming months a new database system “Connect” will begin to transform the way the organisation records and uses information – reducing re-keying and providing better intelligence.

 

The Met’s first ever Chief Scientific Officer will provide independent and expert advice on science, technology and research methods and the Met has quickly assembled a taskforce combining the capabilities and knowledge of several data and tech companies to help.

 

 

 

Rooting out corruption

Baroness Casey’s interim report exposed serious failings and bias in misconduct processes and showed they need to be more effective at ridding the Met of those who corrupt our integrity.

 

In order to fix this, a 180-strong team, dedicated to protecting the Met’s integrity, will proactively hunt down corrupt officers using tactics learnt from covert crime-fighting.

 

An urgent review is underway of the resilience and effectiveness of the recruitment, vetting, initial training, and performance management of new police officer recruits. It is vital only the right people are recruited – those who will uphold the Met’s integrity. 

 

Data specialists are also helping to develop special measures in the Met’s misconduct processes to tackle the racial bias identified and at the same time prioritising cases so that the more serious allegations can be dealt with more swiftly.

 

Freeing-up the dedicated, determined, honest, often heroic majority

Building on deep reserves of public trust and support will require overhauling the Met’s culture and removing unnecessary hurdles all of the good officers and staff often face as they work hard to serve the public better, whilst also providing the training, support and tools they need.

 

Work is underway to reduce queues at custody and property stores so officer can spend more time fighting crime, to give more support for trainee detectives, deliver more driver training, cut paperwork and ensure those who experience trauma are better supported.

 

A new leadership academy is being developed which will bring in expertise from outside policing, including from London’s communities, and which sets the Met’s leaders up to understand a diverse city and equip them to uphold high standards.  

 

A refocused mission and committed leadership

By the end of this year, the Met’s leadership is committed to have produced a credible plan that will deliver and will have taken clear first steps towards a Met that people can really trust.

 

The Met’s Turnaround Board will drive key reforms and together with a dedicated advisory board, bring expertise from across policing and beyond. It will drive the Met towards a better future by constantly improving the organisation’s structures, policies and culture. “Good enough” will not be good enough for the Met. 

 

One thing that will remain is the Met’s core purpose – to save life, prevent and detect crime and keep the peace. However, to succeed, the Met needs to re-define its mission: what should policing focus on for the years ahead? What should it not do? Although the Met shared many goals with partners, there must be agreement about what the police deliver for London. The Met needs to stop a blurred mission diverting it from being the best police service it can be.

What balance should police forces in England and Wales strike between a focus on preventing and solving crime and carrying out their other functions?

  • Police services should first and foremost focus on preventing and solving crime: this is how the public judges the effectiveness of their service, and it is a strong driver of trust.
  • Therefore, the Met is placing renewed emphasis on this core policing function to deliver precise community crime-fighting. This approach also recognises the importance of involving communities and partners in decisions and delivering both prevention and problem solving: building trust is ultimately an enabler to preventing and tackling crime, and a core policing role.
  • Yet, increasingly police services are having to spend a substantial amount of their time on non-crime demand, for example missing people or helping individuals experiencing mental distress – and stepping up where other public services are best qualified to lead.
  • Data suggests an increasing amount of police time is spent dealing with mental health incidents. This serves neither our officers, the public or, most importantly, those suffering mental ill health. Since 2013, the Met’s usage of section 135 and section 136 powers has increased by 590% and 450% respectively and in 2021, the MPS received a call flagged as mental health related every 3.5 minutes and deployed to a mental health call every 20 minutes.
  • Increased demand has been driven by factors such as a reduction in face-to-face mental health services; a reduction in available mental health beds; an increase in individuals presenting in crisis who were previously unknown to mental health services, and reduction in capacity to convey from the London Ambulance Service.
  • Police services’ ability and time to attend volume crimes is being constrained by the increased complexity and volume of non-crime demand. The higher level of risk associated with increased demand can only be mitigated if Government and external partners make concerted efforts to create the right level of capacity in the Met and others, so each can provide expert support.
  • The urgent need to coordinate mental health crisis services so that the right service is providing the right intervention at the right time (nearly always, this should be a health intervention) encapsulates this challenge.
  • The Met is engaging partners to ensure that the public receive support by the service that is most appropriate to their needs at that time. A number of initiatives have stemmed from Blue Light Collaboration including the London Safety Centre, Operation Hasani and Collapsed behind Locked Doors project. The positive impact of working in partnership is demonstrably clear.

What roles should police forces prioritise?

  • It is helpful to think about the roles that police should prioritise in the context of the outcomes that we expect of our police service.
  • A 2020 research piece by the Police Foundation found that the public want the police to be more visible and focused on core tasks: tackling areas such as sexual and violent crime, organised crime and terrorism, which are seen as causing serious harm… and less priority to activities such as dealing with mental health crises and welfare concerns, which (the public) think should mainly be dealt with by other agencies”.
  • This aligns well with the Met’s commitment to overhaul the current neighbourhood policing model and focus on precise community crime fighting, whereby community policing will be strengthened and the organisation will develop a transparent and inclusive way to make decisions whilst building trust and confidence.
  • It also underlines the Met’s ambition that the right intervention is provided by the right agency at the right time, which will help reduce the pressure of non-crime demand on the police service and stop a blurred mission diverting time and resources.
  • In order to deliver the outcomes that the public expects from their police (and notably, less crime and improved criminal justice outcomes), key roles will include:
    • timely response and deployment,
    • strong neighbourhood teams providing visibility, prevention, engagement and problem solving
    • the ability to maintain the King's peace and public safety (terrorism, disorder, serious violence)
    • effective investigative and forensics capabilities (including digital capabilities)
  • The impact officers can have is highly dependent on a strong data and technology enabling function that can anticipate changes, understand drivers and evaluate the tactics and strategies that work.
  • Priorities should be tackled in an agile way and as part of the Commissioner’s 100 day plan, the Met will introduce a new performance model with decisions made on governance, roles and responsibilities alongside a new conceptual performance framework with new measures agreed (noting some data points will be dependent on new sources and availability) to drive activity and insight.

What can be best done to improve community (i.e. Neighbourhood) policing and increase trust in police officers and forces, including on funding and on disciplinary powers when officer behaviour falls below required standards?

Improving community policing

In order to improve community policing, it’s important to recognise:

  • the root causes of some forms of criminality are driven by wide societal, educational or economic issues,
  • that communities have a level of understanding of the local issues that has not been fully exploited,
  • and also that the solutions, if they are to be sustainably successful, should encompass responses from communities and partners beyond policing. 

 

Having created Town Centre teams, the Met will overhaul the current neighbourhood policing model and give London the strongest neighbourhood policing ever by investing in more local officers and an additional 1,600 PCSOs to create stronger, more capable teams who know their communities and build strong local partnerships.

 

The Met’s approach to precise community crime fighting will complement this investment and involve London-wide surges bringing wanted criminals to justice, tackling crimes that matter to the public and getting upstream of criminal networks to tackle those causing most harm to communities. It will also require improvements to initial investigations and a more victim-centred approach to crime, whilst Innovation Hubs in each BCU will drive long-term engagement and joint initiatives to prevent crime and build confidence within communities.

 

 

 

Increasing trust

  • On standards and disciplinary issues, the MPS is currently seeking to deliver an immediate purge to root out corruption and abuse, and develop ways to proactively manage this and maintain high standards.
  • A new Anti-Corruption and Abuse Command has been launched within the Directorate of Professional Standards, dedicated to protecting the Met’s integrity. It will proactively hunt down corrupt officers using the full range tactics including those learnt from covert crime-fighting. At the same time, the organisation will develop robust processes to kick these people out of policing as quickly as possible.
  • The Met has also begun to set more explicit standards of behaviour so that staff and officers are in no doubt as to what is expected of them. The Commissioner has been clear to all leaders: “The standard you walk past is the standard you endorse”.
  • By year-end, the organisation will have launched: public appeals for reports of corruption and abuse by officers and staff, with a reliable system established for assessing, investigating and responding; lawful business monitoring of mobiles and laptops; and an established routine check of our workforce against PND data.
  • More widely however, reforms to the existing misconduct system, which is too complex and takes far too long to come to resolution, would support the Met and other forces to increase the timeliness of the process.
  • The Met’s asks of the Home Office and other statutory partners in the misconduct system concern regulatory and legislative changes to ensure quicker and more logical processes as well as changes to the current performance regime to enable poor performing officers to exit the organisation more easily.  If enacted, these changes would support the Met’s efforts to build trust and confidence.

Specifically, what the Metropolitan Police must do to increase trust under its new Commissioner

  • According to MOPAC’s most recent Public Attitude Survey, 71% of Londoners agree the MPS is an organisation they can trust (compared to 85 per cent in 2018/19). There are also significant differences between different groups of Londoners – mixed ethnicity Londoners, Black Londoners, LGBT+ Londoners and young Londoners under the age of 25 all have less confidence and trust in the MPS.
  • In addition, confidence in local policing is currently low in some areas of London. This is driving the Commissioner’s ambition to create the strongest ever community policing model London has seen in partnership with communities.
  • The Met is determined to be, and to be seen as, a responsible, exemplary and ethical organisation that can be trusted, and where there is no tolerance for corruption or abuse. The recent period has been challenging, with the conflation of abhorrent incidents involving a number of officers, and the challenges of unprecedented growth at speed – increasing the number of recent officers with little experience.
  • HMICFRS decision to move the Met into Engage phase reflects the cumulative impact of events and problems the organisation is dealing with. The Met published its Rebuilding Trust action plan in November 2021 and has already delivered a range of associated commitments as well as pushing forward in implementing the recommendations from the HMICFRS report on counter-corruption and vetting.
  • In response to Baroness Casey’s interim report, the Commissioner has written to all of London’s Legally Qualified Chairs (LQCs) to establish the Met’s position on reform to the misconduct process whilst also making clear that the Met continues to value the role they play. The Home Secretary also announced a targeted internal review of police dismissals – the Met welcomed this review and has provided feedback to the Home Office on the proposed draft terms of reference.
  • The Commissioner has set out clearly his mission for more trust, less crime, high standards which will accelerate improvement in this area and means a multi-pronged approach on:
  • Tackling corruption and raising standards: New investment into the Directorate of Professional Standards includes an uplift of 130 officers and 20 members of police staff. A new Anti-Corruption and Abuse Command will transform the Met’s ability to proactively identify, investigate and prosecute officers and staff engaged in corrupt and abusive activity. In parallel, the Met will get better at developing people and helping them succeed, removing unnecessary hurdles they often face as they work hard to serve the public better.
  • Doing the basics well, informed by evidence and data: The Met will relentlessly focus on its delivery to the public. In some cases, the organisation does not respond quickly enough – in others, victims do not receive timely updates on the progress of investigations. A combination of data-led and victim-centred approaches will make officers more effective and help the Met make the right calls on resources and tactics early on. This will improve performance in areas that matter most to the public: crime rates, how we answer calls for our help, investigation outcomes, our support for victims and how well our prevention measures help tackle problems.
  • Working with communities and building strong neighbourhood policing: The Met will work out its approach to problems with the communities that are impacted as opposed to imposing solutions upon them. This approach will form an integral part of a renewed neighbourhood policing model and involve initiatives where the police, partners and communities come together to solve problems. It will be taken across high harm crimes like violence – including VAWG, drug trafficking or weapons offences as well as "neighbourhood crimes" like burglary, car crime or ASB. Initially, it will focus on the offenders who cause the greatest harm on London’s communities, to demonstrate the Met is listening and taking action.

What steps can be taken to improve national conviction rates, including via relationships with other bodies such as CPS?

1)       There must be a step change to increase capacity within the criminal justice service to deal with demand, and in particular to increase judicial capacity, a significant limiting factor.

  • Despite significant investment and recent Met improvements in file quality, timeliness and criminal justice outcomes, the pandemic has exacerbated delays and backlogs in the criminal justice system and victim satisfaction and confidence is declining. Delays – or the potential of a case to extend for years – can make a victim and witness more likely to drop out. It may also result in a suspect re-offending.
  • The pandemic’s impact has been worse in London and it is highly likely that demand will remain elevated until at least 2024. In January 2022, London Crown Courts carried forward more than twice the number of defendants compared to 2019 (+102.3 per cent versus +60.3 per cent nationally). As at March 2022, there were nearly 16,000 outstanding cases in London’s Crown Courts and nearly 73,000 in Magistrates Courts with victims and survivors in in the capital waiting for up to five years to get a court date. This in turn increases demand on police witness care units and investigating officers.
  • The Met is also concerned about the capability of the system to prioritise cases with vulnerable victims/witnesses. The proportion of victims in live cases identified as vulnerable has increased suggesting that vulnerable victims’ cases may not be progressing as swiftly as other cases. More Crown Court capacity is needed to give rape and serious sexual assault victims’ effective justice outcomes. The Chief Crown Prosecutor suggested that a bespoke 20 court facility building with section 28 measures (which provides the option to pre-record evidence in advance of a trial for vulnerable complainants) would be needed to keep up with increasing demand. The current wait for victims is too long.
  • Work is underway to explore various options that will help address court backlogs – the MPS chairs a multi-agency Gold Group whilst the LCJB is owning the overall issue and response.

 

2)      There needs to be a focus on clarity and simplification across legislation and guidance.

  • Changes to CPS guidance would help speed up charging decisions and reduce bureaucracy. For example, the interim CPS guidance to overcome pandemic-related delays is still in place: this can cause delays in decision-making and leave suspects on bail for longer. It is essential this is reviewed and removed.
  • The need to gather evidence for charging against the clock means Released under investigation (RUI) has created more risks and challenges for the police service. Bail periods of three months are not long enough and need to be extended. Forces nationwide are asking HMG to amend the Bail Act and the MPS would seek a firm legislative timeframe following the Home Office response to the 2020 consultation.
  • The introduction of the two tier out of court disposals framework (albeit an outcome not a conviction) will open opportunities but also introduce strong demands on police services to train and build officers experience in yet further changes. Similarly, the complexity of Home Office counting rules can create confusion for both officers and victims – as does the complexity of disclosure processes.

 

3)      Police services need robust internal plans – and technology investment - to increase conviction rates.

  • The recruitment of detectives supported by the Uplift Programme has addressed the detective number gap. However, whilst officer growth has provided vital capacity, experience levels (at entry and supervisory levels) have increasingly become an issue.
  • The Met is investing in training pathways to improve investigative capability and prioritising PIP2 accreditation for new detectives (Professionalising Investigation Programme from the College of Policing for minimum standards and accreditation to manage serious and complex crime) and raising the digital capability of all investigators.
  • Indeed, the rapid assimilation of new technologies by society creates new vulnerabilities that criminals can exploit – as well as investigative opportunities for forces, if they are funded to invest sufficiently in advanced technology (digital forensics) and to mainstream specialist skills across the whole officer workforce.
  • However, the capital funding received by forces is often inadequate in supporting the full investment requirements that a rising technology-enabled criminality demands.

 

November 2022