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Metropolitan Police

Volume 548: debated on Monday 9 July 2012

10. What recent assessment she has made of the ability of the Metropolitan police to provide an effective service to the public between now and 2015. (115547)

Last week Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary published “Policing in austerity: One year on”. The report showed that front-line policing is being protected, and that the vast majority of police forces are rising to the challenge. The report raised some important issues, including for the Metropolitan Police Service. I am confident that the Deputy Mayor for policing and crime, and the commissioner will deal with those issues firmly.

Speaking on “Newsnight” last week, the Policing Minister described the impending loss of 6,000 Metropolitan police officers as a relatively marginal reduction. Is the £232 million black hole in the Metropolitan police’s finances also marginal? What guarantee can the Home Secretary give me that my constituents in Lewisham will not have their safety and security put at risk as a result of this financial crisis?

First, the hon. Lady makes a claim in her question about what my right hon. Friend the Policing Minister said, but he is absolutely clear that he did not say what she has said he did. Also, I challenge her use of the figure of 6,000 in relation to the Metropolitan police. I think she has used a figure that relates to certain officers across the whole country, rather than in the Metropolitan police. However, I can probably do no better than to quote Sir Denis O’Connor, who is currently Her Majesty’s chief inspector of constabulary. Commenting on what has been reported about the Metropolitan police, he said:

“Are there some concerns? Yes. Should they be able to get on top of it? Yes.”

Technology is crucial in helping the Metropolitan police and other police forces to tackle crime. I know that the Home Office has not quite grasped yet the importance of DNA and CCTV in tackling crime, but may I commend to the Home Secretary the use of SmartWater, a great UK success story that helps the police to reduce crime? The company is based in London. May I suggest that she goes to visit, to see what a great job it can do in helping to reduce crime?

I will not be tempted down the route that my hon. Friend is attempting to take me on some of the issues he referred to in his question—issues on which he has a different opinion from me. However, in answer to his question, we are very open and willing to look at any new technology that will help the police to do their job, which is to cut crime. I can assure him that either I or another Home Office Minister will be pleased to make the visit that he has requested.

The Home Secretary’s decision to replace control orders with TPIMs—terrorism prevention and investigation measures—has put additional pressure on the Met’s resources. It now cannot keep dangerous terror suspects out of London, and this weekend it was revealed that a suspect who the Home Office itself says wishes to

“re-engage in terrorism-related activities”

had been to the Olympic park site five times before being arrested. Can the Home Secretary guarantee that none of the other terror suspects currently being monitored has been near to the Olympic park, and will she say whether she regrets her decision to downgrade terror powers in the Olympic year?

First, in relation to the case that the hon. Lady quoted, it is the case that on 27 June an individual known by the court initials CF was charged with breaching his TPIM notice. He is accused of travelling through the Olympic park area in Stratford, from which he is prohibited, on five occasions. However, the package of measures relating to TPIMs, including the requirement to wear a GPS tag, enables the police to respond and investigate any breach of a TPIM notice quickly and effectively. I cannot say more in detail about that case, because that would risk undermining the prosecution. However, TPIMs, which we have put in place, are a good tool and are being used effectively. The hon. Lady talks about the impact on the Metropolitan police, but she knows full well that extra funding has been provided to the Metropolitan police to cover any extra resources it needs.