An additional 650 officers will be coming to the West End and town centres across London as part of the Metropolitan Police’s immediate response to increased concerns over violence against women and girls, Commissioner Cressida Dick has announced.
New teams will be deployed in the city centre and in Barking, Croydon, Brixton, Lewisham, Uxbridge, Camden Town, Wood Green, Kingston, Shoreditch, Wembley and Stratford by Christmas, with seven more teams in place early next year, she told yesterday’s meeting of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee.
The extra police, supplementing existing teams, will be particularly visible in the afternoon, the evening and at night. “They will make these places much safer and much safer-feeling for everyone, and particularly for women and girls,” she said.
Dick also outlined new training for officers, as well as reviews of internal procedures and vetting, more staff working to enforce professional standards and a new focus on prosecuting rape suspects.
Accepting her service had been seen as “defensive”, she pledged full cooperation with the reviews now underway, including the inquiry launched by the Home Office and the Met’s own probe to be conducted by Baroness Louise Casey. “They will get everything they need,” she told AMs.
Dick said “99 per cent” of officers agree there is no place in the Met for “racist, sexist and homophobic behaviour”, and also said she did not recognise some recent characterisations of the Met – “more like a coal mine in the 1950s than the Met I know, which has women in every rank and every role”.
But there is no complacency, she went on. “I recognise that there is a great deal of concern, for reasons that are plain. I am determined to lead the Met to change. We need to improve. We will see a lot of change.”
Dick also confirmed new video call arrangements to verify the identity of police officers, agreeing that previous Met advice to women with concerns to seek assistance, including possibly flagging down a bus, had been incorrect.
In another section of the meeting, the Commissioner amounted a robust defence of stop-and-search, after committee members questioned both its effectiveness and its disproportionate impact on London’s black and other ethnic minority communities.
“I want my officers out there doing stop-and-search,” she said, citing falling rates of violent crime: although youth murders have increased compared to 2019/20, violent crime overall is reducing, along with robbery and burglary, with numbers for gun crime, serious youth violence and knife crime with injury, including where the victims were aged under 25, all down on last year, figures reported to the meeting showed.
“That is hundreds fewer boys stabbed, far fewer victims, 400 weapons a month taken off the streets,” Dick said. “I believe we use the power well.”
Commenting on what she referred to as “so-called” disproportionality, the Commissioner said that crime is not evenly distributed in the capital. “Knife crime and gun crime hugely disproportionately affect London’s black communities,” she said.
“We are saving lives by our presence. I think everyone here would support the fact that we need to provide an active and reasonable presence in the areas where people are most vulnerable and crime is highest.”
Committee chair Shaun Bailey said figures show the capital’s black community is what he termed “the most murdered community in the country.” He added: “We keep talking about disproportionality in stop-and-search, but what I’m concerned about is disproportionality in murder. The single most victimised group in London is young black men.”
Bailey’s fellow Conservative, Assembly Tory group leader Susan Hall, said she is “really fed up” with hearing about disproportionality. “Everyone is frightened by political correctness to speak out on this,” she said.
The police and crime committee meeting can be viewed in full here.
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