Sadiq Khan has warned Londoners not to intervene in policing operations, following recent incidents in the capital where officers making arrests were confronted by protesting crowds.
“There have been occasions where the public are preventing our officers from doing their legitimate jobs. That is unhelpful and potentially unsafe,” the Mayor told London Assembly members (AMs) at today’s Mayor’s Question Time. “Officers must be able to conduct their duties free from interference and disruption.”
Last month eight people were arrested for assault, obstruction and public order offences in Dalston after a crowd gathered attempting to prevent an arrest of a man wanted for immigration offences, who was then able to make off.
Police said that the operation was not in fact an immigration raid but that they had been targeting e-scooter and moped-enabled crime “following concerns of anti-social behaviour reported by the local community” around Ashwin Street and Kingsland High Street.
Nine officers were assaulted during the incident while another was racially abused, police said, while footage of one officer striking a man on the ground has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
Earlier this month, in Peckham, around 200 people blocked the arrest of a man for immigration offences, surrounding a van in which he was being held. After a three-hour stand-off the man was released on bail. In both incidents social media notifications had circulated, along with video footage.
But police should be allowed to “do their job”, Khan said, adding that social media often presented only “one side” of the story. “You don’t know what is going on, and by getting involved you are risking your personal safety. We can’t have vigilantism. If people have concerns I would encourage them to go through the proper channels.”
Khan also repeated his warning that cost of living pressures could jeopardise the Met’s progress with reducing violent crime, with City Hall research underlining the links between poverty and serious offending rates.
Since May 2016 knife crime with injury in London was down 11 per cent, knife crime with injury to a victim under 25 was down 24 per cent, and gun crime was down 30 per cent, he said.
Earlier the mayor clashed with Conservative AMs over his plans to extend the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) next year to cover the whole of London, with a £12.50 daily charge for vehicles failing to meet emissions standards.
Tory arguments that many residents would be left unable to afford the charges and did not have the cash to change to a compliant vehicle were “scare stories”, Khan said. “What we do know is the cost of congestion, the costs of poor quality air, the cost of action versus the cost of inaction.
“There is a silent majority of Londoners who want to see us taking action to tackle climate change, improve air quality and reduce congestion. Doing nothing is not an option,” he went on, adding that the government should be funding a scrappage scheme for the capital.
A public consultation is underway until the end of July on the extended ULEZ, and Khan hinted at the meeting that a parallel consultation on cutting bus routes, due to end on 12 July, could be extended.
The proposed bus cuts, covering 21 routes, were the result of government demands for savings in return for bailout funding, Khan said, and could be the “tip of the iceberg” if further funding was not forthcoming.
Tory AMs refused to back calls from Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Party colleagues for an immediate long-term funding deal, while transport secretary Grant Shapps joined an increasingly fractious face-off later in the day, extending TfL’s temporary funding only to 15 July while accusing Khan of unnecessary cuts “artificially created by you as a political weapon”.
The webcast of Mayor’s Question Time can be viewed in full here.
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