I don’t always agree with Guardian/Evening Standard columnist Simon Jenkins, but when he speaks about policing he is typically bang on. Today’s piece in the Evening Standard in support of the American police chief Bill Bratton excoriates the Met, as it should. The Met is hugely expensive, mired in operational failure and currently leaderless. I am very disappointed that Home Secretary Theresa May has vetoed the idea of including Bratton in the selection process. I am equally miserable that chief shop steward Sir Hugh Orde is in the selection process.
Sir Paul Stevenson’s move to single patrolling was very welcome and it is a great shame he self-destructed. We need to go much further in making our police service more efficient, ending restrictive practices and making the police more responsive to citizens. Yesterday’s proposals from Policy Exchange (PE) regarding uniformed travel to work were most welcome. Getting the equivalent of 1,200 additional policemen in London in return for the free travel concession we already give them seems like a good deal.
PE did not talk about the Met’s canteen culture. I scanned the report for references to canteens, food, meal, etc. American police eat out. This again massively increases visibility for no cost. Most workers in London have lost their canteens. Their police huddle in their canteens and spend hours a week travelling to them. Why can’t they eat with London’s workers – and buy their own food like everyone else too?
I would dearly love to see the national responsibilities of the Met separated from the day-to-day policing that most residents care about. A smaller, cheaper police force focussed on local policing and accountable to the Mayor for high performance is what I would like to see.
Incidentally, the PE report totally skewers Labour’s “cuts” argument with this comparison of police costs across common law jurisdictions.