Written evidence submitted by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (POP0104)

Thank you for your letter of 9th May following my appearance in front of the Committee. Please see below for answers to the questions posed in your letter.

1. Operation Onyx

You asked about the number of officers suspended from duty, the number removed from frontline duties, and what duties were being performed by those who had been removed from the frontline.

Of the 1,131 officers identified when the work began, 37 officers/staff were subject to Integrity Assurance Unit (IAU) risk management measures (which may include, for example non-public facing duties or being out of the evidential chain). None of the 1,131 officers or staff were suspended or restricted under the misconduct regulations for the historical matters. As that is only applicable to ‘live’ misconduct investigations under Police Regulations.

Following the initial phase of work, on the 3 April 2023, the MPS released the following data – recognising that there is still considerable work to do involving this cohort of officers and staff.

Of the 1,131 officers and staff: a. 246 will be subject to no further action, the review having determined that the right course of action was taken at the time, or they have since left the MPS. b. 689 will be subject to a new assessment of the original allegation, to actively pursue new or missed lines of enquiry; c. 196 will be subject to a referral into risk management measures and potentially a review of their vetting status.

The 37 officers and staff who were originally subjected to risk management measures are included within groups a or b above. The total number of officers and staff that are subject to risk management measures will potentially be 139 following an individual review by the IAU, an additional 102 from when the work started. The additional 102 officers and staff are included within group c above. There may be further officers referred for a review by the IAU following the work on the 689 officers in group b.

Of the 1,131 officers/staff, 31 officers/staff have since resigned or been dismissed, they are spread across groups a, b or c above. For those who are restricted to non-public facing duties or out of the evidential chain, they will be in roles, such as Duties Offices (arranging the shift patterns and availability of officers).

2. Accountability structures

You asked me to reflect on the accountability issues, whether I feel that the current policing accountability structures are fit for purpose and whether there are any changes I and the Mayor would like to see.

As highlighted by the Baroness Casey Review, the Met’s accountability to politicians in London is different to accountability in other UK police forces. Baroness Casey notes that this difference “affords the Commissioner a greater sense of independence”.

Importantly, the Commissioner is not appointed by the Mayor of London, but by the Monarch, on the recommendation of the Home Secretary, in consultation with the Mayor. In other police forces, the Chief Constable is appointed by the locally elected Police and Crime Commissioner. For other Chief Constables in England and Wales, the relevant PCCs make their own decisions to ‘appoint, and where necessary dismiss’ the Chief Constable. There would appear to be little justification for such a difference between the Commissioner and other Chief Constables.

There also exist a number of systems, structures and process which appear to confuse accountability of the Commissioner. One example is the National Policing Board (NPB) and its sub-Boards overseen by the Home Secretary. It is not clear the basis upon which the Commissioner is invited to attend the NPB, or be represented on the Crime and Policing Performance Board (CPPB) and Strategic Change and Investment Board (SCIB). The Chair of the National Police Chiefs Council (‘NPCC’) attends to represent forces, whilst the Assistant Commissioner of Specialist Operations (‘ACSO’)–another MPS employee –is a member in terms of the national Counter Terrorism Policing Network and wider national functions (e.g. Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection).

If the Commissioner is invited as the Chief Constable of the biggest force, logic would dictate that the invitation should also be extend to MOPAC as the PCC for the biggest force. But this is not the case. This means the Commissioner (or their representatives) can be questioned directly by the Home Secretary about their performance. This is in stark contrast to other Chief Constables, where their performance is considered on a national basis. Inevitably this will lead to greater scrutiny by the Home Secretary of the MPS as opposed to other forces, which is discordant with the government’s general desire to place increased focus on other parts of England.

The Home Secretary also schedules regular quarterly meetings with the Commissioner, but no such similar arrangement exists with other large forces such as the West Midlands.

This is further evidenced through Home Secretary commissions to His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (‘HMICFRS’) inspections. The legislation gives the Home Secretary wide discretion in this regard. However there have been a number of instances where the Home Secretary has commissioned inspections in whole, or substantially in part of, the MPS where it could be considered that those are ‘local policing issues’. For example, the inspections into Op Larimar and the policing of the vigil on Clapham Common could be seen as MPS-specific issues, even whilst being of national interest.

There have been events of national interest in many local police areas which have not been dealt with in a similar manner by the Home Secretary. For example, when the statue of Edward Colston was toppled and thrown into the harbour there was a great deal of debate about, and national interest in, the policing response and whether or not it was appropriate. However, the Home Secretary did not commission a HMICFRS inspection into this. It seems clear that Home Secretaries are more likely to commission reports into instances involving the MPS than with other forces.

The current position in London inevitably leads to a complicated and confused accountability model for the Commissioner, where they are effectively accountable to two different people, who will sometimes have competing priorities simultaneously. This is to the detriment of Londoners, not least in terms of the fact their elected representative does not have the same powers as other PCCs on an issue of the utmost importance to them. This effectively leaves London’s voters disenfranchised on a key issue compared to other parts of the country.

As with all of the content in the Baroness Casey Review, myself and the Mayor are reflecting on her evidence and considering the implications for our oversight of the Met Police. This includes her observations and insights on tripartite accountability structure. It also includes her insights on the broader accountability arrangements, and the fact that the key oversight bodies for the Met – MOPAC, IOPC and HMICFRS – “do not currently have the levers required to create the types of changes that other parts of the public sector have in their arrangements.” As part of our work to take forward the Casey Review we will be considering further reforms as necessary. If required, we will write to the Home Secretary to outline any proposed reforms and we would be happy to share a copy of such a letter with the Committee.

3. London Mayor’s Action Plan vs. the national Police Race Action Plan

You asked for an explanation of how the London Mayor’s Action Plan relates to the national Police Race Action Plan. The Mayor’s Action Plan for Transparency, Accountability and Trust in Policing (2020) is focused on the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). It responds to concerns set out by Black Londoners, Black-led community organisations and those representing the views of Black Londoners about the lower level of Black representation in the police service as compared to white Londoners, disproportionality in the use of police powers affecting Black Londoners and a perceived lack of transparency and accountability around the way these powers are used. It forms a part of the wider work being led by the Mayor to promote equality and reduce unjustified disproportionality across London’s institutions and society.

The Police Race Action Plan (2022) has been developed jointly by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing with input from stakeholders, including the National Black Police Association, the Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board Chair, and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

Many cities have developed their own local plan, flowing from the from the national Plan and the MPS are currently working on the London version. The Commissioner is committed in having a London Race Action plan and Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe has been appointed as the lead for the London version of the plan which is currently in progress.

The local plan is working to the same four strands of the national Plan, which are: 1. More representation 2. Policing powers 3. More community engagement and 4. Victimisation, under protection and overpoliced. The Met is looking to ensure there is more coordination with the national Plan whilst understanding what is happening locally including coordination with any ongoing work of the Mayor’s Action Plan which is organised under the following strands: 1. a police service that better represents and understands Black communities, 2. Better Use of Police Powers, 3. Working together to make Black communities safer, 4. Holding the police to account for what they do.

4. London Policing Board

The Mayor has now publicly announced the launch of a new London Policing Board to oversee and scrutinise the urgent reform of the Met. The announcement on Tuesday 23rd May marked the beginning of the recruitment campaign for the Board, which will run until 3rd July.

The Mayor is looking for Board members from across London’s diverse communities and representing a range of expertise and lived experience, who can help oversee and drive the changes Baroness Casey has identified, for the benefit of all Londoners.

In line with Baroness Casey’s recommendation, the new Board will be based on the transparent approach to accountability now used by Transport for London, albeit with arrangements that reflect the different legal structures in place for policing, including the oversight powers of the Mayor and the operational independence of the Commissioner.

The key feature of this transparency will be that the meetings of the Board will be held in public. The London Policing Board will hold four full meetings each year that the public can attend and observe. The Board – chaired by the Mayor - will significantly increase MOPAC’s ability to oversee the Met and also demonstrate that oversight in a publicly accessible way to Londoners. 

Thank you for the opportunity to give evidence to the Committee and thank you for your work looking at the important issue of policing priorities.

Yours sincerely, Sophie Linden Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime


June 2023