Sadiq Khan has doubled down on his criticism of Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick following a series of controversial incidents including most recently the strip-search of a 15-year-old girl in a Hackney school.
Speaking at the-is month’s Mayor’s Question Time with the London Assembly yesterday, the Mayor also widened his criticism to include the Metropolitan Police Federation, the staff association representing officers up to chief inspector level.
The federation last month accused Khan himself of undermining trust in the police through “continuing scaremongering, sniping and sweeping statements”, declaring it had lost faith in the Mayor after the “very public ousting” of the commissioner.
“The current commissioner may not like it, the chair of the Met police foundation may not like it, but I’m clear that there is a deep cultural issue in the police service in relation to racism, sexism, homophobia and discrimination,” Khan told Assembly members (AMs).
Public confidence in the Met was now at an “all-time” low, Khan said. City Hall’s regular polling showed just 51 per cent of Londoners agreeing police were doing an excellent or good job locally, and overall trust in the Met down to a scores of 76 per cent in December 2021 compared with 88 per cent in June 2017.
“Trust and confidence issues mean that victims, witnesses and potential police recruits don’t come forward,” he added. “That’s a problem because the bad people get away with it. Rebuilding trust is essential.”
Khan confirmed that the final decision on the appointment of the next Met commissioner would be taken by Home Secretary Priti Patel. “But I will make sure the next commissioner understands my concerns,” he said.
“The new commissioner must accept the scale of the cultural problems. In short, they need to ‘get it’. And have a proper robust plan to deal with them including a commitment to working with communities to shape reform.”
The Mayor added that he would be calling on the Home Office to involve community representatives in the recruitment process, and urged AMs and community organisations to write to Patel, “so that she understands the strength of feeling about making sure we get the right person for the job”.
Khan also defended the use of ‘stop and search’ powers, if used “appropriately, proportionately and professionally”, reporting that “’positive outcome’ rates from searches were up to 27 per cent, with almost 5,000 weapons seized in 2021.
Yesterday also saw the launch of Khan’s updated statutory Police and Crime Plan for the coming three years, setting rebuilding trust and confidence in the police as one of four key priorities, alongside reducing violent crime, improving support for victims, and tackling criminal exploitation of children and adults.
On violent crime, the plan highlights a 26 per cent fall in knife crime with injury involving under 25s since 2016, and a “sustained” reduction in violent crime overall since 2018.
“Thanks to our relentless efforts over recent years and record investment from City Hall, violent crime continues to fall,” Khan said as the report was launched. “But there’s still much more to do to prevent violence and to stop the terrible loss of young lives in our city.”
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