Metropolitan Police officers are on standby for deployment in Northern Ireland in the event of no-deal Brexit, the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee has been told.
Deputy Met Commissioner Sir Stephen House confirmed to London Assembly members today that 150 London officers could be sent to Northern Ireland to assist local police. While no formal request for assistance had been received, the officers had already been trained for deployment, he said.
The Met is also anticipating more demonstrations in Central London, he reported, as well as the possibility of civil disorder in the event of fuel or food shortages. Police leave could also be cancelled around 31 October, when the UK is at present officially scheduled to leave the European Union. But police did not anticipate providing direct support to distribution chains, he added.
A no-deal Brexit would also see the end of current arrangements for cooperation with police forces in the EU, committee members heard. While arrangements similar to those established pre-EU could be put in place, “these would not be as effective as the arrangements we have now,” Sir Stephen said. “We will lose significant influence over crime and security in Europe,” added deputy mayor for policing and crime Sophie Linden.
Sir Stephen also told AMs about the policing of last month’s Notting Hill Carnival, with notified offences and arrests both down on 2018 figures. In all, 478 offences were recorded, including 193 that were drug-related, and 354 arrests were made.
A total of 15,000 officers were deployed at what is the largest street festival in Europe, with 1,700 arrests made in the run-up to it. “The vast majority of people there enjoyed it and probably didn’t see any trouble,” Sir Stephen said. “Our job is to take out the troublemakers and we largely achieved that.”
While concerns remained around the training of stewards, float safety and crowd control, as well as 33 assaults on police, organisers had worked well with the Met, Sir Stephen added. He rejected suggestions from Tory AM Susan Hall that the event had “outgrown” the area and should be moved. That debate was “redundant”, he said. “It is the Notting Hill Carnival. If it was moved it would not be the Notting Hill Carnival. It is now associated with that part of London.”
The committee also heard details of significant increases in “stop and search” tactics across the capital, up month on month over the past year and now 81 per cent higher than at the start of 208/19. “We maintain that stop and search is an effective tool,” said Sir Stephen. Londoners are aware of the increased use of the tactic, he said, and generally supportive.
“In my experience people want more stop and search – but quality stop and search, done professionally,” he said. “The vast majority of law-abiding people want crime down and safety up. If that means more stop and search they will support it, as long as it is done professionally.”
The tactic was contributing to a reduction in knife crime, with figures for knife crime with injury victims under 25 down 20 per cent over the year, Linden added.
Members asked what more could be done. “If the government gives us 6,000 more police officers, out of the 20,000 promised nationally, we can get more officers on the streets,” Sir Stephen said.
Watch a webcast of the police and crime committee meeting via here.
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