Today’s big London news is that we have a new Commissioner of the Met, see BBC coverage here. On the whole the new boss seems to be hitting the right note. He was though reported to say a couple of things that jarred with me in the Standard, here.
Firstly, he said:
It is my aim to be a top police leader in charge of one of the most important police services in the world.
I am sorry but the Met’s split focus on both national and local policing issues leads to this kind of overblown statement. I really want to see very focussed delivery of local policing priorities in London and I don’t see how you can do that and deliver of counter terrorism, diplomatic protection, etc. Sorry to be parochial but I want focus on London, not the world.
Stephenson also made a silly reference to “the world famous Scotland Yard brand”. This irked Dave Hill too. Again how does this fit into local policing?
Again in the Standard Tony Travers speculates about the Met’s future:
But the unseemly spat with Boris Johnson and the Opposition front bench could, if the new Commissioner cannot de-politicise his force’s reputation, tempt the Tories into reforms the Met would not like at all. They might, for example, split the “national” and “London” functions into two separate operations.
For my money a London force reporting to the Mayor and a national security service reporting to the Home Secretary would give us proper accountability and clarity of purpose.
Simon Jenkins in yesterday’s Standard returns to one of his favourite ideas (and mine) of making London policemen patrol on their own. Jenkins berates the Met for lack of focus on local policing without caring to mention the Safer Neighbourhood Teams which seems somewhat myopic. Our own experience in Northfield is that the SNTs are very effective.
There is much to be done to make London’s police force serve London and not policemen themselves or politicians for that matter.