Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, is finding it hard to keep out of the media. Only last month he was on the Radio 4 Today programme describing himself as a limpet, see here.
He was at it again on the Today programme yesterday morning effectively complaining that the Police’s remit was too wide. The Tory candidate for the West Central London Assembly seat, Kit Malthouse, writes about Blair in the Times today and is not overly impressed. Blair talked about how the Police have to deal with everything from terrorism to social cohesion. Apparently people on the Metropolitan Police Authority have been on at him to tackle wildlife crime in London. What? How hard is it for Blair to reply to whoever it is on the MPA as follows: “We had 26 teenagers, one every fortnight, stabbed or shot or beaten to death in London last year. I am very happy to look at tackling wildlife crime once I have got this death toll down to maybe one or two a year. Until then bog right off.”
I note that Blair has not been using his airtime to draw attention to the teenage death toll in London. Probably because it runs against the positive mood music that Blair and the Mayor are trying to put out around policing in the run up to the mayoral elections.
I note that Blair didn’t complain about Police resources being diverted to policing the Mayor’s New Year’s Eve party.
One of the biggest problems with policing in London is that you and me as precept payers provide the largest share of the Met’s revenue but its commissioner is appointed by the Home Secretary and the Home Secretary gets to tell him what to do. To the extent we have local accountability it is down to the Metropolitan Police Authority which is packed with appointees who have no mandate. If it was left to Assembly members Blair would have been fired already.
In a sensible world the London Assembly would appoint a commissioner who would worry about London and leave the Home Office to discharge its own responsibilities using its own agencies as it saw fit. London’s police could then protect London and Londoners and Blair wouldn’t have to stress about what his role was. If he lost focus on it the Assembly could quickly remind him.