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Boris: Sadiq Khan needs to 'grip' Met Police problems in same way I slashed crime figures

30 June 2022, 18:32 | Updated: 1 July 2022, 12:38

Boris Johnson said London&squot;s City Hall needs to "grip" policing problems
Boris Johnson said London's City Hall needs to "grip" policing problems. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson has told Sadiq Khan to "grip" the policing problems in London after the Met was placed into special measures.

LBC broke the news that Britain's biggest force would be put under more scrutiny over a litany of failures like the murder of Sarah Everard and the strip search of a menstruating girl known as Child Q.

Boris Johnson, who was mayor of London before Sadiq Khan between 2008 and 2016, said he did not like "endlessly dumping" on his successor.

But he told LBC's Nick Ferrari: "City Hall has got to grip this thing. In the end, the Mayor of London, one of his jobs, one of his titles is he's the commissioner of the police in London.

"And he should grip it, he has the responsibility. He hires the police chief."

He said the next thing the Met needs to do is hire a capable boss to succeed Cressida Dick, who quit after saying she had lost Mr Khan's confidence.

Boris Johnson spoke to LBC's Nick Ferrari
Boris Johnson spoke to LBC's Nick Ferrari. Picture: LBC

He pointed to his own record in cutting crime and said he did it by supporting the police.

"We said we were going to cut neighbourhood crime by 20%, and we said we were going to tackle knife crime, so we said to the police, who I love and who I think are brilliant, we're going to back you on stop and search, we're going to help you with the law, we're going to back you up," he told Nick.

"And they took in the first year-and-a-half 11,000 knives off the streets of London, and do you remember how difficult it was?

"In the end, those figures started to come down because we took a very no nonsense approach."

A source close to Sadiq Khan told LBC: “Just like his time as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s record as Mayor of London is one of failure. The truth is that after initially benefiting from a decade of record investment in policing under the last Labour government, violent crime started to rise on Boris’ watch in London in 2014. Now as Prime Minister, one in seven police forces across the country are in special measures.

"In contrast to the Tories, who have cut policing budgets, taken a wrecking ball to youth services and defended business as usual when it comes to poor policing across the country, Sadiq has been the one showing leadership in London - holding the Met to account and demanding the urgent reforms required to improve performance and restore trust and confidence in the police.

"Under Sadiq, violent crime in London is now falling, bucking the national trend. It’s the Prime Minister who needs to get a grip.”

In a letter to acting Met commissioner Stephen House, the boss at HM Inspectorate of Constabulary [HMIC] Matt Parr said there were "several examples of high profile incidents" which raise concerns about the force's performance and "are likely to have a chilling effect on public trust and confidence in the Met".

Boris Johnson said the mayor's office needs to grip policing issues
Boris Johnson said the mayor's office needs to grip policing issues. Picture: LBC

Cases raised by Mr Parr included the murder of Sarah Everard, the findings of the independent inquiry into the murder of Daniel Morgan, the stop and search of Bianca Williams and Child Q.

The Met is to be placed into special measures, and will be subject to external monitoring and reviews by the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs Council.

The force will be subjected to a so-called "engage phase" which means it will face external monitoring and the force must come up with an improvement plan.

The external monitoring and support will come from the College of Policing or the National Police Chiefs' Council, brokered by HMICFRS.

The Met is in the final stages of appointing a new commissioner. It is between Sir Mark Rowley, the former Counter Terrorism Command boss who was in charge during the attacks at Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge in 2017, and Met Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave.

Read more: Met Police placed into 'special measures' after litany of failures

The Queen formally appoints them after a recommendation from the home secretary, Ms Patel. She must take Mr Khan's thoughts on the appointment on board.

Nick told Mr Johnson that one in seven police forces are under special measures and said police and crime commissioners needed to hold their services to account.

He said 13,500 officers of the promised 20,000 were on the streets, and said neighbourhood crimes were down 31% "since we began".

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"I'm not going to pretend to you that everything's fixed everywhere but neighbourhoods are becoming safer, streets, communities are becoming safer, that's a fantastic thing, that is the essential prerequisite for long term economic growth," he said.

A spokesperson for Mr Khan: said: Unlike many others, the Mayor has long been clear that wide-ranging reforms are urgently needed for the Met to regain the trust and confidence of Londoners, which is so vital to policing by consent.

“The Mayor has managed the Met through the devastating impacts of government austerity which saw officer numbers falling below 30,000 in London and took £1bn out of the budget.

"In spite of this, the Mayor has led the way with a plan to confront cultural and performance issues that are deeply rooted in the Met and achieved significant falls in violent crime across London by being tough on crime and the causes of crime.

“Sadiq has consistently held the Met to account and called for action to deal with the cultural and systemic issues within London’s police force.  He’s been clear with Londoners about the scale of the change required, but has faced opposition from the Government at every step, including when he lost confidence in the previous Met Commissioner.

“Ministers should now focus on working with the Mayor and HMIC to improve policing and play their part in appointing a reforming Commissioner so that we can deliver the police reforms and step change in policing performance and culture that Londoners deserve.”

Mr Khan told LBC's State of London Debate this week that he welcomed the decision of the police inspectorate "because I've been calling for some time for systemic and cultural changes in our police service in the face of opposition from Priti Patel and Boris Johnson".

He added: "That's one of the reasons why we have an action plan, to win back trust and confidence from Londoners, particularly around making sure that we're more accountable to our communities."