Police officers using the capital’s database for monitoring gang members should receive training with a “particular focus” on making sure “the right people are on it” and also removed when evidence indicates that they should be, according to recommendations by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).
A 94-page review of the Metropolitan Police Gangs Matrix, which operates across all 32 London boroughs, also recommends that the Met “strengthen their governance” of the matrix and “the officers and partners that use it” in order to properly assess data breach risks and “ensure there is no discriminatory practice”.
Publication of the review, which Sadiq Khan made a 2016 manifesto pledge to undertake, followed last month’s decision of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to issue an enforcement notice against the Met, compelling it to comply with data protection laws in future.
An ICO investigation found “multiple and serious” failures in the Met’s use of the matrix, including that the rules governing its use were “unclear and inconsistently applied” and that there was a lack of “effective central governance” of it, resulting in “risk of damage or distress” to people on it.
The MOPAC review, which was carried out by members of the organisation’s staff, recognises that “a Gangs Matrix is a necessary law enforcement tool for reducing violent crime in London,” but also says that “the representation of young black males on the on the Matrix is disproportionate to their likelihood of criminality and victimisation” and “recognises that communities in London have deep reservations about how the Matrix operates”.
“Significant issues around public understanding” and “a lack of transparency on the part of the Metropolitan Police Service in communicating the aims and purposes of the Matrix”, are also highlighted in the review. It recommends that “by the end of February 2019” the Met produces publicly available information to explain to the public how the Matrix works and is governed and makes plain how an individual is added to or removed from it and the “practical effect” being included has on that person.
“Gang-flagged” violence accounts for “a relatively small proportion of overall levels of violent crime in London,” the review says, but “represents a significant percentage of the most serious and harmful offending and victimisation”.
The review says that its total of nine recommendations should be implemented by the Met by no later than 31 December 2019, including that MOPAC itself oversees this.