The Met Police’s newly-unveiled improvement plan has been welcomed by every political party at City Hall, with Mayor Sadiq Khan calling the scheme “an important step” on the Met’s “road to reform”.
The troubled force has announced its ‘A New Met for London’ plan as it works to rebuild its reputation after a series of scandals and a savage review by Baroness Louise Casey that found it was racist, misogynist and homophobic.
The programme of reform includes an increased emphasis on neighbourhood policing, with each of London’s 32 boroughs set to have at least one front counter open 24 hours a day. Some 240 officers out of the Met’s total workforce of around 34,000 will be moved from central to local teams.
There are also plans to recruit 500 more community support officers (PCSOs) and an extra 565 people to work with teams investigating domestic abuse, sexual offences and child sexual abuse and exploitation.
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Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, who previously said there were hundreds of officers in the Met who should have been kicked off the force, said bosses are “sacking and suspending more officers than ever before”.
Mr Khan said: “The Commissioner has undertaken around 10,000 interactions with people within the police service, with partners, but also with communities, and come up with this new plan for London.
“It’s really important he’s using the additional resources we’ve given him to prioritise the things that matter to Londoners – so for example there’ll be more than 500 additional officers doing public protection work; for example, making sure there’s a presence in every single borough across our city.
“But also he has chosen to – I’ve not told him to – he has chosen to go across London. He was in Peckham last night, to listen to Londoners, to understand the issues, and then respond.”
Asked whether two years was long enough to deliver the plan, the mayor said: “I think one of the reasons why two years is being used as a metric is because of the impatience, not just of me, but the Comissioner, to bring about change…
“We’re not going to bring about change without bringing Londoners with us. I’ve been determined to shine a spotlight on the true extent of the performance and cultural problems within the police service.
“That pressure has led to a new commissioner, Dame Louise Casey’s report, and this new plan…
“But the police need to be given time. Some people criticise Sir Mark and me, saying two years is too long, others are saying, ‘Is two years enough?’ Let’s wait and see the progress we’ve made in two years.”
Green London Assembly Member (AM) Caroline Russell, who chairs City Hall’s police and crime committee, said: “The plan shows that the Commissioner understands the scale of the culture shift needed, his commitment to repair the relationship with Londoners and also shows people how the Met is responding to the serious organisational issues raised by Baroness Casey.
“The committee is pleased the plan reflects the feedback we put to the Commissioner in response to the draft Turnaround Plan, specifically around recruitment, collaboration with partners, strengthening neighbourhood resources and providing a better service to victims.”
Ms Russell said the committee “will continue to engage with the Met as it implements the plan”.
Conservative AM Susan Hall – one of two people who could be announced on Wednesday as the party’s 2024 London mayoral candidate – also praised the plan.
She added: “It is absolutely essential that people have faith in their police force and that the institutional issues are rooted out, so that the many excellent police officers can continue their work.
“Londoners expect their mayor to take accountability for failings on their watch; Sadiq Khan has been London’s Police and Crime Commissioner for nearly eight years and is ultimately responsible for policing in London.
“He must focus his attention on making sure London is safe for all who live, work and visit here.”
And Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon said the plans “represent a welcome shift in tone and focus, even if long overdue. In particular, the shift of resources towards the boroughs is something we have long campaigned in favour of”.
She added: “Central Government now needs to back the turnaround plan with funding, resources and staff; alongside new powers to enable the Met to remove corrupt officers quickly.”