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UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
To be published as HC 1456-i
House of commons
TAKEN BEFORE THE
Home Affairs Committee
Policing Large Scale Disorder
TUEsday 6 September 2011
Boris Johnson and Kit Malthouse
ACTING COMMISSIONER Tim Godwin and ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER Lynne Owens
Sir Hugh Orde and Chief Constable Tim Hollis
Len Jackson and Deborah Glass
Evidence heard in Public Questions 1 - 195
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
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Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Tuesday 6 September 2011
Keith Vaz (Chair)
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, and Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor with responsibility for policing, gave evidence.
Q1 Chair: This is the first session in the Committee’s inquiry into the large-scale public disorders that have taken place in London and other cities over a short period in August. Our first witnesses are the Mayor of London and the Deputy Mayor of London. Thank you both very much for coming in for this session to begin the Committee’s inquiry. Could I also begin by passing on the condolences of the Committee, Mr Mayor, following the death of Simon Milton, who was a frequent witness before our Committee. He must be a great loss to all of you at the City Hall.
What I am proposing to do before we take evidence from you is to show the Committee short footage of a part of the disorders that occurred on Tuesday, 9 August. It is a two minute video provided by the BBC.
That gives us a flavour of what happened in Birmingham and in London. Could I deal first of all with the issue of the Metropolitan Police and issues concerning the leadership of the Metropolitan Police? As you know, this has been a very tough time for the Met. We have had the resignation of the Commissioner; there has been a lot of resources put into the phone hacking scandal; there is the question of cuts to the Met. Are you confident that there is proper and appropriate leadership at the Met at this moment in time to provide the kind of stability that is needed to police disorders of this kind?
Boris Johnson: Of course I am, Chairman. I think if you look at the leadership of the Met, it is exceptional and has been building in strength over a number of years. I single out obviously Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin who, after all, had to step into the breach while Sir Paul was away on sick leave for a period of about four or five months. I think he has a very good team around him. Cressida Dick in counterterrorism, Chris Allison doing CT, Ian McPherson. I think there is a very good team indeed, and I think the proof of the pudding is in the eating in the sense that the Metropolitan Police Service has done a fantastic job over the last few years in bringing down crime. Crime in the last three years is down about overall 9.2%; on public transport it is very considerably down; youth crime, youth violence, is down about 15.6%. These are considerable achievements.
You make the point, Mr Chairman, about police numbers and, of course, it is important that they should remain high. There is going to be a new Commissioner shortly installed and I have written to you, I think, to give the timetable for that and we expect to make an announcement on Monday.
Q2 Chair: Your announcement is to be made on Monday?
Boris Johnson: That is right.
Q3 Chair: To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to lose one Commissioner was a misfortune but to lose both looks like carelessness. What is this problem about retaining Commissioners at the Met?
Boris Johnson: As I say, I think Sir Paul did an excellent job and if you look at his achievement not just over his period as Commissioner over the last three years but in his whole period of service to London and policing in general, I think he made a very remarkable contribution. I regretted that he departed, and I remember, Mr Vaz, you came out on the night of his resignation and made a statement that I think very fairly and accurately reflected what was going on. It was a matter that I think Sir Paul felt had basically come to dominate the headlines. He could not see any other way through. He thought this was going to go on and on-I am referring to the whole relations with News International and that kind of thing-and he felt that this would be a distraction from carrying out his duties. We had a long conversation about it. We argued it through and I am afraid that, yes, I could see the logic of what he had to say.
Q4 Chair: Would you have liked to see him carry on until after the Olympics?
Boris Johnson: As I say, I think that he was right in his analysis, which was that now was the time to give somebody else a chance to get their feet under the desk and take the Met on through the Olympics and beyond and, yes, I accepted his analysis that basically the whole story around relations between the police and the News of the World was going to go on and on in such a way as to distract him and to undermine his ability to project what he was doing in improving policing in London. As I say, he has a very considerable record of success, to which I pay tribute. He and, of course, 32,000 others.
Q5 Chair: Clearly you want to move on now. We are going to have a decision of some kind, a final decision next Monday. You very kindly provided me with a letter dated 24 August setting out the timetable. It seems very clear from this letter that you and Mr Malthouse and the Metropolitan Police Authority will be shortlisting. You will then have a second meeting with the final candidates; is that right? There were four candidates who applied.
Boris Johnson: That is right.
Q6 Chair: Is it down to a smaller number or do we still have four?
Boris Johnson: I do not want to go into the details, if you do not mind. If the Committee will forgive me, I will not go into the details of the current selection process but suffice it to say that there is a very strong field already. Four exceptional candidates have come forward. It is now going to be a matter, as you rightly say, of whittling that down and then jointly the Home Secretary and I will make a decision.
Q7 Chair: Whose decision is it at the end? Your letter makes it clear, you talk about "her" recommendation to Her Majesty the Queen so it seems, although you are going to have a discussion with the Home Secretary, at the end of the day it is her call. Is that right or is it a joint decision?
Boris Johnson: This is a vexed issue, which I think it is right the Committee should focus on because it relates to another topic that you want to talk about, which is the structure of the Met and its democratic accountability and all the rest of it. At the moment the way it works is that the Home Secretary must have regard to what the Mayor and the Metropolitan Police Authority say about the matter. I think, to all intents and purposes, what that means is that it is a joint decision and it is not, in the real world, really possible for a candidate to be approved without the support of both parties. I think with goodwill and common sense there is absolutely no reason why that should not be achieved.
Q8 Chair: But at the end of the day, you say very clearly in the letter, "She will make her recommendation", but what you are saying to the Committee is her recommendation is really a joint recommendation?
Boris Johnson: Her Majesty the Queen will make the appointment. There will be a recommendation, properly, by the Home Secretary to Her Majesty but obviously the Mayor and the MPA have a considerable input into that recommendation.
Q9 Chair: So the door will be locked until one decision is made?
Boris Johnson: There will be a decision and it will be a joint decision, and I am sure it can be done expeditiously.
Chair: Thank you. We will now continue on the Met and then we will go on to the disorders.
Q10 Nicola Blackwood: Just to be clear, it is stated in the Mail that you disclosed that you will veto any candidate to be the head of Scotland Yard if they cannot demonstrate a compelling plan to deal with gang violence; is that not the case?
Boris Johnson: Obviously, one of the things that I think both the Home Secretary and I will be looking for is a candidate who has an appreciation of the issues in London and has a robust plan for dealing with them.
Nicola Blackwood: Absolutely, but it is not a veto power for the Mayor. I am just trying to understand how the process works. It is a joint decision-making process?
Boris Johnson: That is right and effectively that gives one party or the other an effective veto power on the preferred candidate.
Q11 Nicola Blackwood: What would you view to be a compelling plan to tackle gang violence?
Boris Johnson: Your Committee has asked a lot about this later on and if I can pre-empt that discussion now, I would say what has happened in the riots and the disturbances in London has been obviously very shocking, very traumatic for the city, but it is also an opportunity and it is an opportunity to get on and to expand a great many of the things that we have already been doing. If I may say so, I think that Ken Clarke was on the right lines this morning when he talked about problems in the criminal justice system. It is not, frankly, irrelevant that a huge majority, I think 75%, of those who have so far been arrested do have criminal records. We have to consider as a society what is happening to these people when they are arrested, when they are charged and when they get into the criminal justice system. How are we changing their lives to make sure that they do not come out again, re-offend and get back into the gangs? There are very serious issues around it.
Q12 Chair: Mr Mayor, we will deal with that a bit later. If we could just concentrate on the Met.
Boris Johnson: Forgive me, Chair, I was asked a question about gangs.
Chair: Absolutely, and we can come back to that. Julian Huppert, we are on the Met organisation at the moment.
Q13 Dr Huppert: I would like to bring you back to this thing about the appointment of the Commissioner because I heard several different answers in the comments that you made. I am still not clear what the process is because you said on the one hand there was an effective veto for either person. You said on the other hand that it is the Home Secretary’s appointment with regard to the opinions of the Mayor and Metropolitan Police. Those are not the same thing. I realise you may find it hard to consider yourself and this Home Secretary. With a putative future Mayor and a putative future Home Secretary, what is the balance of relationship there? Could the Home Secretary appoint somebody who the Mayor did not want to see? Could the Mayor then get that person to resign or force them out? What would the process be?
Boris Johnson: I think, just to go back to Mr Vaz’s initial question and you look at what happened in the case of the previous Commissioner, it is pretty obvious that a Commissioner cannot continue without the support both of the Mayor and of the Home Secretary. By the same token, it does not make much sense to appoint a new Commissioner without the support of both parties but, as I said, I have absolutely no doubt that that joint support can be achieved and will be achieved.
Q14 Mr Winnick: The Chair asked you about the situation about two police Commissioners going during your time as Mayor. Do you have any feeling of responsibility for what has occurred and what many people see as a crisis in the Metropolitan Police with regards to leadership?
Boris Johnson: Mr Winnick, as I was saying to Mr Vaz, I think that that is a misunderstanding of the scene at the top of the Met at the moment, and I think if you look at what the team is like there and the work they are getting on with, there is no instability. In fact, I think they are doing a very remarkable job. Just to get back to the key point, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In the everyday work of fighting crime, the Metropolitan Police force is doing a very good job. Crime is down over the last three years 9.2% and I pay tribute to the success of that team.
Q15 Mr Winnick: But the Metropolitan Police Commissioner who was in office when you came in elected as Mayor, you took a role in effect of making sure that he resigned; is that not the position, that you had no confidence in him?
Boris Johnson: There was a-
Mr Winnick: Yes or no.
Boris Johnson: There was a discussion in which I felt it was my duty to relay to him that there were questions that had been raised with me about the leadership of the Met and that I thought it was a good opportunity for someone else to have a go at it. Yes, there is absolutely no doubt about that.
Q16 Mark Reckless: Would it not be better to appoint the best candidate for the job regardless of nationality?
Boris Johnson: This is the sort of Bill Bratton-type question. I understand where you are coming from.
Chair: It is a Mark Reckless question about Bill Bratton.
Boris Johnson: I am sorry, Mr Reckless, it is a good question; a question lots of people ask and a reasonable one. I think it was Aneurin Bevan in the Second World War who said after repeated British defeats in North Africa, "Why can’t we get some of these foreign generals?" It is a solution that people often go for. I think we have a very good range of candidates. There is no shortage of first class police officers in this country. You have an exceptional field that has come forward now and I see no reason to widen it to people of other nationalities.
Q17 Mark Reckless: You said there is no need, and you spoke about the outstanding leadership throughout the top of the Met but this Committee previously had Andy Hayman in to see us.
Boris Johnson: I saw his evidence, yes.
Mark Reckless: The reason given for not being able to appoint Bill Bratton seems to be that he is an American and we cannot possibly have him involved because of the antiterrorism things, but surely there is very close co-operation with America on antiterrorism. It makes no sense at all to ban someone.
Boris Johnson: I do not think-sorry, Mr Reckless, forgive me for interrupting. I do not think that is the reason for being hesitant about employing people from other forces. I think the feeling is probably more practical than that. It is that you need someone with a real feel for the bones and the joints of the British police system, and we have abundant strength and qualifications in our candidates already and we see no particular reason to change the law to widen that.
Q18 Chair: Let us move on to the disorders. Mr Malthouse, the Deputy Mayor, you were there, in a sense; the Mayor was abroad initially but he came back. You were there at the start. When were you first notified that there were going to be disorders, or there were disorders in London?
Kit Malthouse: The disorders started to build on Saturday evening and I was notified by telephone.
Q19 Chair: At that stage, did you consider that there was any possibility that this was going to get even worse? At that stage, as we know, from written evidence to this Committee, there were about 7,000 police officers on the streets of London. That rose to 24,000 the week later. Were you satisfied with the tactics that were being used by the police at the start of the disorders?
Kit Malthouse: I think broadly, yes. There was no indication at that stage that that localised issue in Tottenham was likely to spread across the rest of London, although it was obviously a very severe incident that was taking place on the Saturday night. Obviously the imperative in those situations is to allow the police the space to do their job and to employ their training and tactics and not to interfere in any way. We were obviously notified. I notified the Mayor immediately that there was an incident taking place. As I say, we had to leave the Met to deal with it at the time, and there was no indication that it was likely to spread, no.
Q20 Chair: When did you find that the tactics were wrong and more officers ought to have been deployed? At some stage that must have crossed your mind that there ought to have been more officers out there.
Kit Malthouse: I think there were two issues. One is the number of officers, the other is the speed of mobilisation, and I think the lesson, one of the areas that we will want to look at from a police authority point of view, and I know the service wants to look at as well, is the force mobilisation plan at the time of these incidents. Obviously later in the evening the mounted branch, dogs, there was a significant deployment of public order officers up there to deal with that incident. Whether that was fast enough is something we will need to look at.
Similarly, over the ensuing evenings there were a number of different tactics pursued elsewhere, not least the use of the Jankels vehicles, which you will no doubt want to question the Acting Commissioner on later, which proved to be very effective. I think, with hindsight, it would have been good to have more people there on the Saturday night and indeed the Sunday and the Monday.
Q21 Chair: Do you agree with the Prime Minister when he told Parliament that there were too few police deployed on our streets and the tactics that they were using were not working. That is a serious criticism of the police, isn’t it, that there were too few police officers and the tactics were not working?
Boris Johnson: If I could just possibly interject there, Mr Chairman, and say I think obviously with 20/20 hindsight, and you are going to have your opportunity in a minute or two to talk to the Acting Commissioner about his decisions on the night, obviously people may think that it would have been wiser to try to upscale the police presence more quickly.
Chair: But this is the Prime Minister, Mr Mayor.
Boris Johnson: I think when you look overall at the police handling, which is what, I think, you want to get out of us-when you look at what the police did on that night and on successive nights and what they are doing now in their detective work, which is quite remarkable. They have arrested 2,088 people, 1,230 people have been charged and, by the way, be in no doubt, more and more people are going to be arrested and charged. The CCTV is still being gone through. They are doing an exceptional process. In spite of everything these riots were contained. There was the very tragic death of Mr Bowes in Ealing but otherwise there were remarkably few casualties, and I would just remind the Committee that the-
Chair: We will come on to all this detail.
Boris Johnson: -people of London, in my impression, have very strong support and respect for the way the police were able to handle these riots.
Q22 Chair: Mr Mayor, the issue for this Committee is, do you agree with the Prime Minister in his statement to Parliament when Parliament was recalled that the tactics were not working and too few police officers were deployed? Do you agree with him or not?
Boris Johnson: It is self-evident, Mr Vaz, that there was a difficulty. There was a crisis on the Saturday, then the Sunday and then the Monday, which caught everybody unawares and there is no doubt about that. I think when people come to analyse this event they will want to pay particular attention to the role of social media-
Chair: We are coming on to that.
Boris Johnson: -and all the rest of it, and how that allowed the dispersal of this disorder around London.
Q23 Chair: Mr Ellis is going to probe you now on tactics but one final question to you, because there were issues in the media that you took too long to come back from-I think you were in Canada, though of course it does take a long time to come back from Canada. Could you just deal with this once and for all? Why did it take so long for you to return?
Boris Johnson: I think the question has been gone into quite a lot, but I was stuck in the Rocky Mountains with a campervan and once I had established-I was in continuous communication obviously with the Acting Commissioner, with people in London, with the Deputy Mayor, but once it was obvious that events were not calming down then, of course, I came back.
Q24 Chair: You did come back before the Prime Minister-after the Home Secretary but before the Prime Minister. I have all the timetables.
Boris Johnson: You have the timetables and that may very well be correct.
Q25 Michael Ellis: There is no doubt a league table somewhere about it. On the subject of the speed and manner of the Metropolitan Police response and the issue of police numbers, you have spoken of getting towards your target by May of having 1,000 extra police officers on the streets of London, which will amount to about a million more patrols a year; is that right?
Boris Johnson: That is exactly correct, Mr Ellis. I would pay tribute, as I said at the beginning, to the work of Sir Paul and others in liberating the police to get on and get out there and do what people want them to do.
Q26 Michael Ellis: This is what I was going to ask you about. It is about making savings elsewhere so that frontline officers can be available to the general public; is that the case?
Boris Johnson: It is. I was heartened by the Policy Exchange pamphlet, which I think came out yesterday, which pointed out that in terms of civilianisation getting people-not warranted officers, getting civilian staff to do the backroom jobs, the Met is way ahead of most other police forces. We also have, of course, Project Herald, which has been very effective in getting civilian staff into the custody suites so you do not waste the time of warranted officers.
But on the big point about policing, and the policing of riots, we as a society need to think about what we ask of our police officers because they do an exceptionally difficult job within a very tough legal framework. The Committee will have extensively considered what happened at the G20 riots and the experience there and the real risk to the careers of officers who are found guilty of using excessive force.
Q27 Michael Ellis: As far as other Chief Constables are concerned around the country, they can look to you and the work that you are doing, can they, as far as getting police out of their back offices and on to the front line? Are you hoping to do more along those lines?
Boris Johnson: We certainly are. We are always humble in these matters and there is always more that can be done, but so far we think that we are on the right lines. One of the things Sir Paul did, obviously, was to end the double patrol system so that you add the potential for a great many more patrols.
Q28 Michael Ellis: You have 32,000 police officers in the Metropolitan Police. That is right, is it, approximately?
Boris Johnson: 32,300 and something or other.
Q29 Michael Ellis: On the first night of disturbances, when no trouble was expected-
Chair: Order. Can I ask those who have mobile phones on to switch them off, because it interferes with the communications.
Michael Ellis: Is it right that on the first night, before reinforcements had been arranged or mutual aid had been sought, there were about 3,000 police officers on duty?
Boris Johnson: There were, I think, roughly of that order, but I can get back to you with the exact figure.
Q30 Michael Ellis: Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary reported a couple of years ago that something in the order of 90% of police officers at the moment are not available to the public and on duty at any one time. Do you think that is a satisfactory figure? Would you like to see more officers available to the general public routinely, without reinforcements having to be called?
Boris Johnson: Yes. I think one of the things that we are doing is looking at getting officers who are on long-term sick leave, for instance, to come in and do some of these functions that are currently being done by a warranted officer in order to allow the warranted officers out there on the street. Out of these events good must come. We have to look at the issues around, as Ken Clarke described them, the members of the feral criminal underclass or whatever he referred to them as this morning. We have to look at how we minimise their potential to be dragged in front-but we also have to look into what is going on with the police.
Q31 Steve McCabe: I just wanted to ask a quick point about this issue of civilianisation in the Met. How has the Met been able to avoid the dilemma that other forces are facing whereby it is easier in terms of cuts to get rid of civilian staff? Police can only be got rid of under the regulation A19 rule, and that has resulted in police being taken off the street to do the civilian posts. How have you avoided that difficulty?
Boris Johnson: I am aware of the dilemma but the Committee will perhaps be familiar with, I think, a conversation that has been going on between us and Government about police numbers but also that we have been able to find substantial savings in other parts of the GLA budget and have been able, for instance, to take reserves from the fire service, the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, £42 million, and move that across into the police budget. That is one of the ways we are able to keep numbers high.
Q32 Mr Winnick: When did you first learn of the death of Mark Duggan? Were you in Canada or had you returned to Britain?
Boris Johnson: Thank you, Mr Winnick. I was notified virtually immediately by a text message, I think, on the-
Mr Winnick: So you were in Canada?
Boris Johnson: That is right, on the day that it occurred, which I think was the Thursday.
Q33 Mr Winnick: Were you told the full circumstances of Mr Duggan’s death?
Boris Johnson: I was informed, and I think the full circumstances, with respect, Mr Winnick, are the subject of an IPCC investigation, so clearly I was not told the full circumstances but I was told a rough account of what had happened and, of course, it did immediately strike me as being a potentially very difficult incident.
Q34 Mr Winnick: We will be hearing today from the IPCC, but I would like to ask you, Mr Mayor, do you have any views on how far the shooting by the police of Mr Duggan, whatever the circumstances that led the police to shoot him fatally, triggered what occurred?
Boris Johnson: Clearly there is an investigation now by the IPCC into the handling of that whole incident, and serious questions have been asked and there is no doubt that those questions must be answered. There are issues around what happened in relation to the handling of Mr Duggan’s family and all that kind of thing. I do not think, with respect, it would be right for me now to give an impromptu evaluation of that because I do not have all the evidence. It is the subject of an IPCC investigation.
Q35 Mr Winnick: Can I ask you finally, Mr Mayor, during the debate that took place when the House was recalled certain Members, not many but one or two at least, talked about rubber bullets and water cannons being used. Do you have any views on that?
Boris Johnson: I do have views on this, and thank you for asking. I think that, to get back to the point I was making, they had riots in Paris, which had a state of emergency for three months, 200 public buildings were destroyed, 7,000 cars. We were able to contain very serious disturbances in London with the use of robust, commonsensical policing in a traditional British way. I think that was a very remarkable achievement by the men and women of the Metropolitan Police Service and I do congratulate them on that.
I am not being lobbied, Mr Winnick, by the police for a greater panoply of weapons. What they are saying to me, and what I think would only be reasonable, is if society supported them when they catch people, when they apprehend people, when they charge them, when they have abundant evidence to convict them, if society supported them in making sure those people go behind bars and pay their dues to society. That at the moment is not happening.
Q36 Dr Huppert: The death of Mark Duggan was clearly the first event chronologically in all of this, and so was a trigger in at least that sense, and it has led to comment about the police relations with local communities. Before the disorder happened, firstly, how would you describe police relations with the variety of local communities that you have?
Boris Johnson: This is something that I think, if you look at the last 10 years, the last 20 years, it is an area where I think a great deal of progress has been made. That is not to be remotely complacent, it is not to say there is not much more that could be done, and in the course of the last six months, for instance, my office and I have been doing a kind of peregrination around London, focusing on many of the areas where disturbances took place and having community conversations, as we call them, getting people in, talking to them about the issues around young people getting sucked into gangs, what is going wrong, how can we address these fundamental issues, and we spent a couple of hours in the evening going over some of these things.
In those conversations issues around parental control come up or respect for teachers or more apprenticeships or more mentors, all those sorts of things come up. All those things we are, of course, addressing and we are looking at. But it is very interesting how rarely we have had people complaining about policing or heavy-handed policing, stop and search, those kinds of issues. It has come up but it has not been a dominant theme.
Q37 Dr Huppert: In fairness, the people who might be particularly concerned about that might not be the people who would go to the meeting to express their concerns about that.
Boris Johnson: With great respect, Dr Huppert, you should come to some of these meetings and I think you would form a wholly different impression
Q38 Dr Huppert: I look forward to taking you up on that offer. If I could just ask what you will try to do now to rebuild the police relationship with some of the communities as a result of the disorder? Is there something new that you will be dong?
Boris Johnson: Clearly there are schemes that we are working on already. There is a wonderful thing called Project Voyage, which is run by the police and gets people, young black kids, come to see what it is like to be a police officer, understand what it is all about and it is very, very successful. What I would like to see, and this is something that Kit and everybody else has been working on and the police have certainly been working on for a long time, is to try to recruit more black and ethnic minority people to the police and to make sure, not just-there has been great success, by the way, in recruiting people from all communities in London but we need to see progression as well. There are schemes I would cite. One scheme that is particularly popular is, of course, the police cadet scheme and where people join the police cadets, having been young offenders or whatever, they very rarely re-offend. That is something we are looking to expand.
Q39 Chair: But there is no question, is there, that there was any racial element to these riots, that there was one community as opposed to another community?
Boris Johnson: Absolutely. I think that is a very important point, Mr Vaz. It is vital that people focus on that. What was the key factor that was going to make you more likely to riot? What was it? It was that you had been in previous contact with the police and that you had a criminal record. If you look at the overwhelming preponderance of people who were involved in these riots it was those members of society. That is the problem we need to tackle.
Q40 Mr Clappison: Can I ask you a little bit more about the gangs, particularly how the riots spread after the initial incident in Tottenham involving Mr Duggan? Do you have a view as to the extent to which gangs were behind the organisation and promotion of the riots?
Boris Johnson: It is a very interesting question and the evidence is not perhaps as striking as some of the media reports have suggested. I think I am right in saying that only 20% of those arrested, so the 2,300 or whatever that have been arrested, had any gang affiliation whatever and only 21% of those who have been arrested are under 18. I think we are in danger-
Q41 Mr Clappison: That would be consistent with the picture that many people have of riots being spread and perpetrated by a hard core and then a large number of impressionable, weak-minded people being drawn in.
Boris Johnson: Yes, I think that is certainly right, and I am not going to minimise the importance of the gangs and the gang culture at all. This is something that needs to be tackled and, of course, is being tackled and we have been spending huge energy in trying to deal with it. I think possibly what I am trying to say is you have to look at-and you have probably got it right, which is there was a hard core of people who were determined to cause trouble. You add the communications, the way of inciting others to come and destroy shops in this or that neighbourhood, and then there were people who just happened to be there and who either got sucked into it or who were naturally inclined to get involved.
Q42 Mr Clappison: Members of this Committee have come across the gang culture in London and elsewhere in the past. It is quite a striking thing, particularly the territorial aspect of it. But can I ask you on gangs and on dealing with people perhaps in the hard core areas, do you have a strategy for positively engaging them and for giving them a more constructive way forward with their lives if they wish to take it?
Boris Johnson: Absolutely, and as Bill Bratton has rightly said, you cannot arrest your way out of a problem like this. Obviously, you need to have robust policing, and I am very pleased that that is what has been happening, but you need to have a series of measures that deal with the potential-the young people who are likely to be drawn into this kind of world. It is important that so many of them-and one of them is, of course, mentoring, and we have a very big programme now for mentors in London. We have recruited 2,000 adult males to help us and obviously more are welcome. They are recruited through a body known as Team London. Anybody who wants to join Team London is hereby invited to do so. If you want to mentor a young person in our city, then you are invited to do so.
Q43 Chair: Thank you very much. We will do the application forms at the end.
Boris Johnson: Mr Vaz, I think you would make an excellent mentor, if I may say so.
Q44 Chair: Thank you very much. Just a tiny bit of mentoring advice, I know that you have other engagements and we have other witnesses; if we could keep our answers as brief as possible I would be most grateful.
Boris Johnson: Well, there is a lot to say.
Chair: You have been very helpful to the Committee. I am most grateful. Mr Malthouse, please feel free to chip in during this. You are the Deputy Mayor in charge of policing and we do value what you have to say. Perhaps you will be able to help Ms Phillipson with a question that she is to put.
Q45 Bridget Phillipson: You referred just earlier there, Mr Mayor, to the numbers of those involved in rioting who had some connection to the police previously. Could you just repeat again those numbers and also the evidence base for that and what it is you mean by-did you say involved with the police? What does that mean?
Boris Johnson: Yes. Thank you. It is a good question and perhaps if I get this wrong you may seek a clarification or you can get a clarification later on. But my understanding is I think 83% have had some involvement with the police and I think 75% have a criminal record, is my understanding.
Q46 Bridget Phillipson: Therefore, would you share the view of the Justice Secretary that we are talking about the feral underclass here?
Boris Johnson: Indeed. I volunteered that view earlier on. I think that there is an element of truth in that idea. The single most useful way now, I think, of looking at what is happening is to see the failures, not just in the educational background of these young people but also in the difficulties in our criminal justice system and the real difficulties we are having in finding adequate punishments, adequate ways of turning their lives round. With great respect, quickly, Mr Vaz, one thing I do think the Justice Secretary is right to highlight is the importance, if you arrest such a huge number of people, as we have, and you put them into the criminal justice system, then you cannot simply abandon them there. You have to make sure that they are educated and that you do everything you can to turn their lives round while they are there. That is why I think what we are doing with the Heron wing at Feltham is so important where by taking people, young people, who are willing to turn their lives around, who seem most able to be redeemed if you want, they are educated, they are given inspiration. We cut reoffending rates in that wing from 80% to 19%. That is a model that I think should be replicated around the country.
Q47 Chair: I am surprised that you support so strongly what the Justice Secretary has said because some may think this is an excuse for people to go out and riot. They will just in mitigation say, "Well, this is because of the broken criminal justice system we have. We have not had a chance and, therefore, we have to go and rob the local branch of Dixons". Do you think there is a risk that that might happen?
Boris Johnson: I understand what you are saying, Mr Vaz. I think it is highly unlikely that people will fasten upon an article in the Guardian by the Justice Secretary and say, "This is my justification for going to steal a flat-screen TV from Currys" or indeed fasten on MPs’ expenses or bankers’ bonuses or whatever. I think all those suggestions are, in my view, missing the point. We have-
Chair: Thank you.
Q48 Steve McCabe: I want to ask about the Riot (Damages) Act, but just before can I check the 83% and 75% figures you quoted? Are they London or national figures? What is the source, because I think the Committee would be interested to look at that in more detail?
Boris Johnson: As far as I am aware, these are Met figures.
Q49 Steve McCabe: Can I just ask about the Riot (Damages) Act? Do you know yet how many claims you have received under the Act?
Boris Johnson: I can tell you that the claims so far received have been about 100 under the terms of the RDA and roughly to the value of £9.3 million for those who are uninsured. Sorry, can I just correct one thing? The figures for those who had criminal records and involvement with the police were not Met figures, they are MOJ figures.
Q50 Steve McCabe: You say that £9.3 million is the estimate at the moment. Is the Met likely to be reimbursed by the Treasury for that figure?
Boris Johnson: Obviously, it is very important that we should be able to place reliance-and the police do place and indeed Londoners and other businesses place great reliance-on what the Prime Minister said in his statement on 11 August: that the Government will ensure the police have the funds they need to meet the cost of any legitimate claims.
Q51 Steve McCabe: Just on a final point on that, what is the technical process? Once you have worked out the total sum do you send a bill to the Treasury? How do you get your cash back and the Prime Minister honour that promise?
Boris Johnson: What happens is that under the terms of the Riot (Damages) Act-there are several chunks of money and it is complicated, but there is a website called London Recovers where you can find out in great detail what your entitlements may be. But under the terms of the RDA what happens is that various areas are declared to have been the subject of a riot and the MPA, the Metropolitan Police Authority, makes that assessment. There is then a call centre administered by the Home Office that takes in the calls, the applications, and decides who gets what under the terms of the RDA. But that is, of course, in addition to everything that is done under normal insurance processes, and in addition-I would stress this because I do not think this message has got out loudly or clearly enough-there is also the High Street Fund. We have received substantial donations from Shell, from various banks. There is a fund of about £4 million for people who just need cash to keep their businesses going, to pay the wages of their staff, to tide them over.
Q52 Chair: Does this include the money that is going to Tottenham Hotspur?
Boris Johnson: Thank you, Mr Vaz. That is entirely separate. There is also a £20 million fund that we have set up particularly for Croydon and for Tottenham, which is in itself additional to the £50 million London Recovery fund, which is for everything else.
Q53 Chair: But this is dealing with the Riot (Damages) Act. The other issue that we have seen-I do not know whether you have seen the letter from the Commissioner to this Committee that we are publishing today-talks about many millions more as the cost of these disorders. Now, when I asked the Prime Minister this question on 11 August he was very clear that the Treasury would stand by the Metropolitan Police. You will no doubt, as the Mayor, be asking the Treasury not just to deal with the Riot (Damages) Act, which is very, very clear, but all the additional costs that the Met has had to face?
Boris Johnson: Yes.
Q54 Chair: Is that right?
Boris Johnson: That is absolutely right, Mr Vaz, and-
Q55 Chair: Do we know what those costs are? We have a figure of-
Boris Johnson: I think it is about £35.5 million from memory.
Q56 Chair: I have a figure of £74 million. You have a figure of £35 million?
Boris Johnson: Well, the policing costs I believe are-forgive me, sorry, the additional costs are £35.5 million, but if you add in the opportunity costs of £40 million, then you are correct, you get to-
Q57 Chair: You will be asking for that £74 million from the Treasury as a oneoff payment because of the very exceptional nature of the disorders?
Boris Johnson: Clearly.
Chair: Thank you.
Q58 Nicola Blackwood: There has been a great deal of focus on the role that social media played in spreading the disorder and communicating locations for meeting points and looting up and down the country and, in particular, on the need for additional powers for police perhaps to shut down Facebook or BBM. You mentioned that the police have not been asking for additional powers for water cannons or rubber bullets. However, when we received evidence from the Acting Commissioner on 11 August he said that they had considered shutting down some of the social media sites. I wondered if you had had any discussions about that with him at the time.
Boris Johnson: Yes, of course, it was something that we discussed and the briefing that I got from the police-and I know that your Committee and others have considered this actively-was that it would not be a net positive in the sense that there is loads of stuff, loads of intel, that you can get from monitoring these BBM conversations and all the rest of it that would be forfeited. The loss of civil liberties, if you want, was not going to be compensated for by a gain in security.
Q59 Nicola Blackwood: Your view is that social media has a net positive result in these situations in terms of the intelligence that police can gain and also the intelligence that they can give out?
Boris Johnson: That was the briefing I got and I think that has been persuasive with the Home Office. That is where we are.
Q60 Nicola Blackwood: The Home Office are at the moment having meetings to consider the ongoing role of social media and powers. Are you engaged in those discussions at the moment?
Boris Johnson: Obviously, we have had discussions and continue to have discussions about this matter. I have had particular conversations with Tim Godwin and members of the Met about this. The view that I am getting is that this is not seen as a clear benefit for the police and therefore I am not disposed to support it.
Q61 Nicola Blackwood: That is the view that you are also giving to the Home Office?
Boris Johnson: That is the view.
Q62 Mark Reckless: Mr Mayor, you said, I believe, just then that the police were monitoring BBM messages during the disturbances. Can you confirm that?
Boris Johnson: Well, I did say that and now I think about it I am not certain that they can monitor BBM messages. You are going to have the opportunity to ask the Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin in just a second. There are intelligence advantages to being able to track some of this stuff. I do not know whether you can monitor BBM. You can certainly I think track Twitter, so that is the argument.
Q63 Chair: We are nearly finished, you will be pleased to know. Can I just take Mr Malthouse back to our first comments about the relationship between the Home Office and the Mayor’s Office, in particular a statement that the Home Secretary made during the disorders when she wanted to mobilise all special constables, cancel police leave and adopt the tough, robust approach. Is it the responsibility of the Home Secretary or do you see it as the responsibility of the Metropolitan Police and yourself as the Deputy Mayor to do things like cancelling leave?
Kit Malthouse: Fundamentally, in the end the decision to cancel leave is for the Commissioner, but obviously in any dynamic situation like that there are discussions that take place at a political and, indeed, at a financial level that underpin his ultimate decision.
Q64 Chair: Is there going to be a separate internal investigation by the Metropolitan Police as to what happened in the disorders or are you relying on the Home Office to do this?
Kit Malthouse: Well, the Metropolitan Police Service itself will obviously review what has been happening. We have yet to decide from a police authority point of view what we are going to do, but there are a significant number of other bodies looking at this issue, not least your Committee, and obviously we will have to take into account what they do because the last thing we want to do, given some of the other inquiries, is to tie up valuable police time in duplicating work that may be done just as well elsewhere.
Q65 Chair: Indeed. As far as the new landscape is concerned, of course the MPA will go under the new system. In effect, of course, the Mayor and yourself as his Deputy are the Police and Crime Commissioners. Will you be appointing a panel to assist you in what you will be doing, your very important duties? How would it work precisely in London?
Kit Malthouse: It is likely that we may appoint some effectively nonexecutive directors, particularly to assist with some of the large financial decisions that have to be taken.
Chair: Finally, Mr Mayor, thank you very much for your very-oh, one question from Mr Reckless before I do my "and finally".
Q66 Mark Reckless: The Guardian performed a public service by exposing the hacking scandal. Mark Lewis, a solicitor, acted for many of the victims, including Milly Dowler. Mr Malthouse, why was the MPA funding legal action against them?
Kit Malthouse: Well, we received I think one request for legal assistance, to pay legal fees, which we agreed to after some discussion and capped them, because we were advised that we were under a duty to fund legal action that is designed to protect the reputation of the police service as a whole rather than individual officers.
Q67 Mark Reckless: Mr Malthouse, are you not aware of the Derbyshire case, which specifically says that public authorities may not take legal action in terms of defamation and so on? Mr Yates says it was to protect the soul of the Metropolitan Police. Are you not aware that is unlawful?
Kit Malthouse: Well, the legal advice that we received was that it was legitimate for us to accede to that request. We did accede to a request, albeit capped at a relatively modest amount, I think about £1,500.
Q68 Mark Reckless: While this Committee was spending almost a year investigating phone hacking, I am not aware of the MPA having had any investigation, but at the same time you were funding legal action against people merely for reporting what this Committee was doing.
Kit Malthouse: Well, while we did not conduct a specific investigation, the Commissioner and other officers were subjected at our monthly meetings to quite forensic questioning, not least along the same lines that you were pursuing at the time, around that case as it unfolded and developed over time.
Mark Reckless: Without great success.
Q69 Chair: On the Sue Akers inquiry, you are not presumably informed of what is going on, but are you satisfied that Sue Akers has all the resources that she needs to-this is Operation Weeting. She has all the resources that she needs?
Boris Johnson: Yes.
Q70 Chair: This Committee is very impressed with what she is doing, but we are concerned about the speed that it takes to interview all these people whose names appear on her list, several thousand people. Are you satisfied she has whatever she needs?
Boris Johnson: Well, one of my jobs is to ensure that not only she but also the entire Metropolitan Police force have the resources they need with a huge concatenation of responsibilities. We have the Olympics to police; we have to deliver a secure London in 2012; we have to sort out Operation Weeting. Of course there are big pressures.
Q71 Chair: You have a very heavy schedule. Next Monday you will announce the name of the new Commissioner. To be absolutely clear, because we have the Home Secretary before us on Thursday, you will not accept a candidate that you do not basically feel will deal with the issues that you have set out in your manifestos concerning law and order in London? You will not leave that room unless you get the candidate of your choice; is that right?
Boris Johnson: Well, it is obvious that the next Commissioner of the Met will serve with the support of both myself and the Home Secretary, and in order to make sure that that happens, which I am sure is possible, we will have a good-natured discussion and I am sure we will come to a very good conclusion.
Q72 Chair: The only thing you can tell us is it is going to be a man?
Boris Johnson: Say again?
Chair: The only thing you can tell us about the identity of the next Commissioner is it is going to be a man?
Boris Johnson: I can certainly say that, yes.
Chair: Mr Mayor and Mr Deputy Mayor, thank you very much indeed for coming today.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Tim Godwin, Acting Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service, and Lynne Owens, Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service, gave evidence.
Q73 Chair: Mr Godwin, Ms Owens, thank you very much for coming to give evidence today. Mr Godwin, you provided us with an extremely useful letter setting out answers to a number of questions that we posed to you. There is no need to repeat what is in there except in terms of answers and there is no need to make a statement to us. I will begin because we did say that we would probe you a little bit more thoroughly on this occasion. Going back to the Prime Minister’s words of 11 August to Parliament, he clearly felt that there were a number of mistakes made by the police during those crucial days. He told Parliament that in his view too few police officers had been deployed on our streets and the tactics that were being used were not working. Do you now accept that criticism from the Prime Minister? You were very clear you did not think that you wanted to accept any praise or blame, but here is the Prime Minister saying the tactics were wrong. Do you now accept that?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: I think that when you reflect on something like this in your city and with your police service you would want to have the benefit of hindsight as foresight. Had I had that benefit of hindsight as foresight, then I wish I had had lots more police officers on duty on the Sunday and then into the Monday. In reality, we have to make decisions on what we know or what we believe to be true, and we have to make judgements on the best evidence that we have in order to respond to the situation that we are confronted with, and that is what we did.
I think the key for me is that much judgement is made very quickly and what we actually need to do, because this is so important for policing and for the city, we need to be very careful about reviewing the evidence and coming to conclusions about what was right and what was wrong. We responded; we mobilised on the Saturday; we increased on the Sunday; we increased further on the Monday. I know one of the issues is why was this unprecedented? It was because the number of sites of disorder was something we had not witnessed in the city before, and that did take us by surprise.
Q74 Chair: Indeed. On the issue of costs, you very helpfully have told us that the total costs are going to now be £74 million if you add up the opportunity costs. Is that only for the Met or is that for the entire disorders all over the country?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: That is purely for the Met. Obviously, the additional monies, not the opportunity costs, run at the moment at £35.5 million. I think one of the issues that we actually also have had to police is the Notting Hill Carnival. Obviously, we were concerned at making sure that that went well, and you yourself visited our control centre. Additionally, we have had the EDL events in East London that we had to police as well, so all that is adding to the cost.
Q75 Chair: Is there an ongoing cost? Can you say the cost per day even though the investigations are ongoing? You said in your letter that more people were likely to be arrested. Is this a daily increase in what you have to spend over your normal budget?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: We now have a team of some 500 officers investigating the offences. We still have lots of CCTV to go through. We are looking at plans to maintain that, because the decision that we took was that sometimes you suddenly realise how thin the blue line is when you are confronted with such scale of disorder across such a large area. But the key for us in terms of strategically getting it under control is that crime has to have consequences, and so the arrest of those offenders had to be done swiftly and the courts had to respond swiftly. That was the key that we put into place and I think that had a very significant impact in terms of the repeats or lack of repeats that we then saw. As a result, it is vital that we maintain that effort going on so that nobody is in any doubt if you carry out that activity there will be consequences for you.
Q76 Chair: You have noted the statement of the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice this morning, his view that it is the criminal justice system that in some part should bear responsibility. Do you think that that is correct?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: I think this is a wakeup call for the criminal justice system, yes. We have in London, and I know in my other role as the ACPO criminal justice lead, been seeking to speed up justice, make it more relevant, make it more relevant to communities, and that is something that we need to do. I think the amount of people that have previous convictions does pose questions for us, and I think that we at the Met, certainly working with the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office, have to approach that and learn from that.
Q77 Chair: In terms of the mechanics of getting this money back, you have heard the evidence of the Mayor in his response to Mr McCabe. You write to the Treasury, do you, saying, "Could I have £74 million?" How is it precisely done?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: We actually have to have a costed case, so we have cost centres around it so that we can validate the amounts that we are seeking. We then take that to the police authority. They negotiate with the Home Office and the Treasury about what reimbursement might or might not take place.
Q78 Mr Winnick: I know, of course, the position of the shooting of Mark Duggan is being investigated, as it must be, by the IPCC, and you would have heard questions to the Mayor. Has there been or was there initially any investigation into how the family, particularly Mr Duggan’s partner, was told of the shooting?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: It is one of the things that we are looking into now in terms of what actually went on. There was some confusion in terms of who was going to tell Mr Duggan’s family and that we deeply regret. Our commander has been round to see the family to apologise for those errors, albeit I can understand why those errors occurred. But they were errors that we have apologised for.
I think one of the things that we need to look at is the whole critical incident management that took place at Tottenham so that we can learn from it. I think that there were some good decisions taken and additionally there were some misunderstandings, and we need to get to the bottom of that. Lynne Owens, sitting next to me, has been tasked by me to pick up a number of those issues, critical incident management, causality, and so on. Equally, those conclusions, because this is so important and we want to be transparent, will be shared with this Committee as and when those investigations are completed.
Q79 Mr Winnick: Nothing can possibly justify what occurred with the looting and the rioting and no one, certainly not I, is in any way trying to find some justification. But coming to the actual event that some consider triggered off what occurred, we read in the press that the partner of Mark Duggan went to the police station, waited hours before any information was given, and even then she considered it unsatisfactory. I am just wondering how far you, as the most senior person, the most senior officer in the Met, looked into this.
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: We have, as I say, the review going through in terms of what went on at Tottenham during that period following the death of Mark Duggan. It is fair to say, as in all investigations, there are different views and interpretations of what was and was not said and we need to get to the bottom of that. There is also an issue for us that we have to look at how we relate and interact with the IPCC and I think sometimes some of that can create confusions as well. That is the learning that will come out with this and that is the critical one that we have to get done speedily so that we can then make sure that we don’t make those mistakes again.
Q80 Mr Winnick: Can I ask you about techniques used by the police in dealing with the disturbances? Are there any lessons to be learned? Do you feel that other techniques could have been used initially that could have helped the situation, to restore order?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: Again, that is part of our review process. One of the things that impressed me was the use of vehicle-borne tactics in terms of moving people forward and keeping cordons. I think for us initially, though, we had a full range of tactics that we could deploy. It was purely numbers was the inhibitor. We have to look at that. I think the point that was made about "Where are all the cops?" is an issue that we are going to be confronting in the next 12 months in terms of maximising our footprint and getting those numbers out there. I think there is an issue about how many we have that are level 2 public order trained in terms of whether we need to increase that. All those, of course, have a cost.
Q81 Mr Winnick: The Mayor told us that he has not received any representation from the Met that other methods used in various countries, or indeed in Northern Ireland for that matter, such as water cannons and rubber bullets should be used. That is the position? You have not suggested or proposed that such methods should be used on the mainland?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: We do have the capability to use baton rounds and certainly they were available during the disturbances. The circumstances where you use those is where you have a significant threat to life within the crowd, and we did not feel it was appropriate to use them in any of the three days that we were confronted with the violence.
Q82 Mr Winnick: Don’t you think that would have escalated the situation if such weapons had been used?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: Again, it is hindsight and foresight and hypothetical. I think we would be having a different conversation if we had a young person on life support at the moment as a result of a brain bleed or some other injury. I take great pride in the fact that we filled up prison places as opposed to hospital beds, and I think that is the British way. I do not think that we should throw that out in response to certain criticisms.
Q83 Bridget Phillipson: The Mayor referred earlier to the numbers of those involved in the riots that had previous involvement with the police or had criminal records, and you have just referred to it there. The figures that he was talking about were Ministry of Justice figures, which presumably cover the whole country and the parts that were affected by the rioting. My view is if we are going to have a proper discussion about the nature of the people involved in that, it would be helpful to have a full and accurate breakdown of those figures, what kinds of offences we are talking about, what we mean by involvement with the police. Do you think that will be helpful so that the Committee can be better informed but also so that the public debate is informed more accurately and more fully about the nature of the people that have been involved in this criminality?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: Absolutely essential, and certainly for us we will be helping all those inquiries and, again, it is part of what we are reviewing. I think the issue for me is the fear of crime within-we talk a lot about gang strategies and all the rest of it, which are enforcement strategies, but those enforcement strategies, which we need to be robust, are often-we have them all in the criminal justice system. It is not having the impact. Why not? We have to do something about the fear of crime in the inner city, which means we have to empower citizens in the inner city to be able to stand up against criminals. I think that is where we are going to have to go and that means we need the analysis. Sorry, Chair.
Q84 Chair: No, it is okay. I think Ms Phillipson wants the figures. We accept that a lot of good work is being done. Ms Owens, where would we get these figures from?
Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens: That is a piece of work that we are currently undertaking. I think we do need to stress that they are changing almost every day. Every day we arrest somebody the figures change, so we have a whole analytical team currently working on that analytical product. But what is really important is that we give figures that are meaningful to this Committee so we do not have to keep updating them on a daily basis. Just to give you the gang figure as an example, when we last gave evidence to this Committee we thought that 28% of the people that had been arrested were members of gangs. That is now down at 19% because of the number of arrests that we have made since we last gave evidence. We will be in a position to fully inform this Committee, but because we are at the stage we are at of the inquiry it is just at the wrong stage at the moment. It goes broader than criminal history; it will include employment history; it will include age; it will include socioeconomic location; location of-
Q85 Chair: Is that for the whole country or just for the Met?
Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens: No, we are just doing the Metropolitan Police Service.
Q86 Chair: Is the Ministry of Justice doing the rest of the country? They have their own figures, haven’t they?
Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens: I believe that the Ministry of Justice have based their figures on the cases that they have seen going through courts, convictions.
Chair: Right. So we need to have some kind of co-ordination on this.
Q87 Bridget Phillipson: I think as well just for context to some of it, and by that I mean when we are talking about the percentages of those who have been previously involved in gangs, whether perhaps it might be more difficult for the police to track down those people as opposed to those who are perhaps not involved in gangs in the same way are less likely to, for example, cover their tracks quite so well, were not masked. We have those who perhaps are easier to track down and easier to identify and then perhaps those more hardened criminals are members of gangs who are perhaps more adept at hiding their criminality. I do not know whether that is a factor.
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: Chair, if I may, actually we see it in the reverse. Most of the gang members we do in fact know. Most of the gang members we have active investigations against, so they were the ones that we scooped up first off, which is why the percentage was higher at the beginning. We are now working through and we are getting massive support through our various media sites where we are publishing the images, from members of the public who are contacting us. We have even had raids occur in one premise and a member of the public come up and say, "What are you doing?" "Oh, we’re getting some plasma screen televisions back from-" "Well, if you go to that address, that address and that address, they’re his mates and you’ll find some more there." We are getting those sorts of things. London has had enough and that is why we are having a great deal of success.
Q88 Bridget Phillipson: I think that is why it is important that the debate we have is informed by the facts and by the statistics because otherwise all of us are simply rushing to judgement about things that we presume may or may not be the case.
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: Absolutely.
Q89 Michael Ellis: Going back briefly to the point about baton rounds, or rubber bullets as they are sometimes called, I understood from one media report that during the height of the disturbances they were quite close to being deployed at one point. Is that right?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: We had moved them forward to be available. In fact, they were used in their carriers, not the baton rounds but the teams were used in their carriers to remove the barricades, but we chose not to deploy the baton rounds.
Q90 Michael Ellis: They were taken out of the holding area and handed to police officers trained to use them?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: There were police officer trained units moved up to Tottenham.
Q91 Michael Ellis: But they were not discharged?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: They were not deployed.
Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens: They were not deployed and they were not authorised for deployment. There are three stages in the baton round deployment. The first is the release from their storage. The second is their authorisation at gold level, at strategic level, for support, and then down to silver commander level the authorisation to use them tactically. Our gold commander made a detailed entry in his decision log on the evening detailing his rationale for not deploying them, part of which was the community confidence implications that the Commissioner has already alluded to.
Q92 Michael Ellis: Who was your gold commander at that point?
Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens: Simon Pountain.
Q93 Dr Huppert: There have been some very interesting things coming out and if I can just pick up on two of them very quickly. One, the statistical point that Bridget Phillipson raised. Whereas the Mayor was saying that most of the people involved were known to police and that we should be dealing with that group of people, you are saying that, in fact, that is just an artefact of the fact they are the first people you rounded up; is that correct?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: That may well turn out to be the case, because we still have lots of images to go through and obviously the ones that you know are going to be arrested first. But currently it has been running fairly statically at that sort of 70%plus figure.
Q94 Dr Huppert: The second quick question, I hope, you will be aware that there has been another death related to Taser usage. Can you just clarify whether any of the officers involved with this had or used Tasers?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: No, is the answer. TSG carriers do have Tasers on them, but they would not have been deployed in this situation.
Q95 Dr Huppert: The carriers had them but they would not have been taken out and used?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: They would not have been put into this situation, no.
Q96 Mr Clappison: Can I just ask the Acting Commissioner a very broad question, drawing on his experience? What does he think works in tackling gang culture?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: I think the issue for me is over the last 12 years in London you see gangs created and, sadly, it ends up with either very long prison sentences as they progress through their gang career or criminal career and some end up dead, but you get a new cohort coming through. I think the bit that we have yet to work out is how do you stop that cohort coming through and how do you empower communities to have the confidence in us, because there is a confidence issue in us in some of these communities that we have to work to overcome again. We have done an immense amount of work in moving that forward but we are not there yet. At the same time, breeding confidence in there and giving alternatives in terms of going through that criminal career, that is the key. One of the things that came out from the horrendous murder of Damilola Taylor is where we got an insight into the fear of crime among some inner city young communities, which is disproportionately higher than elsewhere, even though they are unlikely to admit it to you. But the disproportionate level of fear of crime in the inner city is something that we collectively-it is not just the police, we collectively-have to tackle.
Chair: We will come back to gangs slightly later.
Q97 Steve McCabe: Commissioner, I understand what you are saying about the benefits of hindsight and foresight, obviously, but I wondered with hindsight do you think you should have moved more quickly to increase the number of officers on duty and on the streets?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: Obviously, with hindsight I wish I had had more on the streets on the Monday night to give my gold, silver and bronze commanders more assets to be able to respond to what were 22 boroughs of serious disorder. Of course I would, but to say that we were not expecting that is exactly true. We were not expecting that level and spread, that replication, that copycatting of sheer criminality. The key for us at that point, in those early hours of that morning into the Tuesday morning, was we must arrest these people. We must make sure there is a consequence for their actions. The emphasis was the investigation that we have done and the emphasis was getting all our partners, with the support of Government and others, to respond swiftly through the criminal justice system. I think the criminal justice system has shown what it can, in fact, do and I think that did have an impact in terms of what then followed in the other nights in London.
Q98 Steve McCabe: At this stage in your reflections, is there anything else you think you might have done differently?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: I think we will reflect on the initial handling, as Mr Winnick said, in terms of the critical incident management that we did initially. That is not saying that I am critical of the borough commander there. The one thing about this is you have to make finite judgements and every now and again things occur from which you must learn and reflect. It is all too quick that we jump to blame people and that is wrong. We are responsible, I am responsible, I am accountable, but the most important thing that we do is look at what occurred, learn from it and make sure that next time-if there is a next time and hopefully it will be very rare-we will be able to deal with it in a different way.
Q99 Bridget Phillipson: ACPO told us that they received the first request for mutual aid from the Met on Monday, 8 August, but your letter to us talks about 100 public order officers being deployed on the Saturday. Do mutual aid requests always have to go through ACPO and what is the process by which you would decide it was appropriate to do so or to pursue other routes?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: The initial route is we do it regionally whereby the forces that can respond the swiftest are the ones we contact direct in what is called a service mobilisation plan where certain numbers, so Surrey, Essex, Sussex and so on for us, would be our first port of call. On the Saturday night, we got four PSUs from the county forces to come and assist us. On the Sunday we went up to five, and then on the Monday, though, when we saw what had happened on the Sunday night, we went to PNICC for mutual aid, which was across the whole of the country, because the logistics of getting people down and so on is a challenge and that is where PNICC kicks in.
Q100 Nicola Blackwood: Do you think if there had been a more robust response to the initial disturbances in Tottenham it would have prevented the spreading and the copycat or do you think that it would have happened anyway? I know that is a difficult question but in your assessment do you think that you could have shut it down in the first instance or do you think that it would have happened anyway?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: I think that is one that we need to reflect on when we can talk to those that were involved, but I get the sense that certainly the Sunday night the four other boroughs would have probably followed however we had responded. But in terms of the copycat sheer criminality that then occurred, the speed with which people took advantage of police officers being elsewhere was something we have not experienced before. That is a very difficult question for me to answer and I think I would like to go through the evidence first.
Q101 Nicola Blackwood: Do you think that the causes of the disorder in different parts of London, and indeed different parts of the country, had completely different sources and were in some ways spontaneous?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: I think that while they were linked they were different experiences. The first one on the Saturday was an outburst of anger that then led to disorder. We then saw images of looting, which apparently was being untackled by the police. We were, in fact, arresting some of them. As a result of that, I think that encouraged a few more to look at the opportunity for smash and grab activity, which then went into the Monday that we saw across such a broad area.
Q102 Nicola Blackwood: Given the drop in the percentage of those arrested who are gang-related, what is your current assessment of the role that gangs played in perpetuating this disorder?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: I think that the individuals who had a criminal enterprise in mind set an example that others felt was an opportunistic thing to follow. But again, it is very early to draw those conclusions. That is an instinctive feeling, but we need to get to the bottom of that. There are some people there that we were arresting with loot that are, "What on earth were you thinking in terms of doing that?" We need to get to the bottom of what actually happened on that Monday night, but the key again for us, I think, is crime has to have a consequence. That is why putting them in front of the courts and having the publicity around that is very important.
Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens: I want to just flag a point in terms of the gangs. That relies on an internal flagging system, so I want to slightly caveat the data. It should be taken as sample data rather than definitive. There may be people that are part of gangs that until we arrest them we are not aware of their connectivity. I would not want the Committee to be sitting here saying that we are at a definitive figure. It is an indicative figure rather than definitive.
Q103 Nicola Blackwood: Yes. You mentioned earlier that now is not the time to be making an assessment of the figures and so on. When do you think that the analysis might be finalised so we could make an assessment of that?
Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens: I think the challenge that we have is we still think we have about 20,000 hours worth of CCTV footage to view.
Q104 Chair: How many hours?
Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens: 20,000, so the scale and extent of this is significant. We will on a weekly basis update the analytical product but in terms of when the endgame is going to be, we are waiting for a proposal to come back to our management board in terms of how long the investigation is going to take.
Q105 Nicola Blackwood: At what kind of rate are you able to assess that?
Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens: As the Commissioner has said, we have a team of 500 people working on this currently and consistently and we are getting really good support from the public and our boroughs to try and get to that end figure.
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: But equally we are looking at volunteers, we are looking at police associates, registers and all the rest of it because I reiterate-I sound a bit like a cracked record-the most important thing is that people are not seen to get away with it and there isn’t a consequence.
Q106 Alun Michael: You and the Mayor have both made very positive references to the progress the Met has made on what you called community confidence. There is often a challenge between general confidence and general community relations and what happens when there is a need for police action, which often involves bringing people into the area who are not normally policing that community. Could you say anything about how you assess the situation that you are now in and any implications for the aftermath of these events?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: I think there are a number of points there. One of the things that I think you will find from our looking at what actually happened in Tottenham early on was the decision by the borough commander, which I think was a very brave decision and probably a very wise one, too, that the policing ought to be local policing rather than bringing in those units from outside, because of the understanding and the sensitivity. We are very conscious of the impact that we can have in certain decisions along those lines.
We have done a lot in terms of explaining Stop and Search. We have monitoring Stop and Search advisers on every borough that actually go through why we are stop and searching, who we are stop and searching, which is an emotive issue in certain communities where you are pursuing things like Blunt 2, which is to try and stop weapons being on the street to drive down homicide and gun crime, which has been going down in London. It is about constantly making that debate, encouraging people to come forward to join us. The BPA, the Black Police Association, of the Met have been running the Voyage programme on our behalf for a number of years now where they are taking people from inner city estates and training them in terms of leadership, how to become a leader in your community, how to stand up for your community, how to access us, how to hold us to account, and all those initiatives that we have been doing. We have run Kickz and Hitz and all sorts of initiatives to try to do that.
The most important thing, as I see it, for whomever the Commissioner is is to be very transparent. Hence we will bring our conclusions here and it is about transparent in terms of why we are using certain powers at certain times. We invite people to come and observe how we use our powers and it is about that connectivity. Do we always get it right? No. Do people make mistakes? Yes. Do we learn from that? Yes. Do we need to actually do more? Probably.
Q107 Mark Reckless: The Prime Minister told us that the police treated the situation too much as a public order issue rather than essentially one of crime. Was that solely your mistake or did the ACPO guidance in keeping the peace also play a role?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: I think that there has been a misunderstanding in terms of that particular perspective. Most public order is, in fact, crime as well. There are criminal offences often taking place within any public order situation. I think the piece from that when we were discussing with other chiefs some of the learning from us was that one of the bits in the Met is that we have a very brave but young inservice workforce as a result of the recruitment post-2000. A lot of our young officers have not experienced anything like this in their careers, and one of the things we needed to make sure was that it was not perceived as London was one big public order incident, that London had public order incidents that were going off where you needed to deploy your tactics, your cordons, your PSUs, but at the same time it was boroughbased policing. We put that out very early on across the force to remind people we are borough-based policing with public order support, just to remind people. That was interpreted that we were saying that we had just done it as a public order event. That was not the case. I think there was a little bit of confusion on the basis of assisting other chiefs in terms of what they might be considering.
Q108 Dr Huppert: What proportion of the Met police officers are public order trained and what is your aspiration for what that number ought to be in the next few years?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: 3,000 is the number that we have trained. Our aspiration is waiting for Assistant Commissioner Owens’ view. I would not be at all surprised if she doubled it, which is a hint. I think that for us in terms of force mobilisation and all the rest of it, we will need more level 2. Looking ahead at what might come in the future, I think we are going to need to increase it. But perhaps Lynne-
Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens: At the moment we have just over 2,500, between 2,500 and 3,000. Just to give the Committee some quick figures that I did on about the third night in, just to see if we were looking to raise that to, say, 10,000, which would be a third of our police officer workforce, that would come at a cost of £8 million in actual cost. Of course, the decision that we do need to take is the abstraction that creates because there is a training requirement. That will be officers that were out of their communities, dealing with public order. Now, in the context of what we have seen, that may be the right decision to make, but it will be that decision that I will be putting back to the management board to say, "Where do we want to draw the level?" Of course, there is an HMIC review ongoing and I am working with my colleagues in ACPO, Sue Sim, who leads for public order, because it is not just what does the Met need, it is what does the country need and how quickly could we mobilise those things. It is important that work we are doing internally feeds those two other bits of work as well.
Q109 Dr Huppert: Given your figure of 2,500, does that mean that a lot of the police who were deployed during the disorder were not trained and what were they able to do and what were they not able to do?
Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens: The number of public order officers that were trained effectively quadrupled during the operation. On the first night, we had 380 of our own public order officers and they were joined by 100 of their county colleagues. On the Sunday we had 1,275 public order trained, of which 124 were mutual aid, and on the Monday night we had 1,900 public order trained officers, of which 550 were mutual aid. As you can see, any suggestion that we were not responding to events or increasing numbers would be wholly wrong. In respect of what their level 3 colleagues could do, all officers are trained in officer safety. All officers have ASPs and CS spray. Indeed, I am not sure if any of you have seen the footage, but what you saw on Sutton Borough with the chief superintendent leading a charge down his own high street, that was wholly of level 3 officers. The reality is police officers join the service to protect the public, so any police officer that was in that position would put themselves in harm’s way, and we saw lots of evidence of that happening on the night.
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: On Thursday I will be commending the first 43 for extreme bravery in the circumstances that they faced.
Q110 Chair: Just a couple of points that have come out of your evidence, Mr Godwin. The first is on that first night in Tottenham it took eight hours to get the riots under control, I understand. At the same time there was looting in Wood Green but there were no police officers who were stopping this looting. Are you comparing what was happening in each borough in terms of the way in which you look back, the great gift of hindsight that you talked about? It does seem a little odd that there were police officers in one part unable to control the riots and there were no police officers in another.
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: Well, I think unable to control was actually we contained it. It could have been considerably worse, we do not know, but certainly they were containing it and certainly they were supporting the fire brigade in putting out fires and all the rest of it.
Q111 Chair: Do you accept in some parts there were just no police officers around?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: But in terms of the point-well, as I say, we ran out of police officers. The thin blue line is quite thin on occasion. That is an issue that we do have to pick up. There is a challenge there, which is a legitimate challenge as to why do we need five times the number to cover 24 hour, which is one of the pieces that has come out from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate. Why do we have so many in court that do not get called and all the rest of it? That is a piece of work that will be ongoing. In terms of are we going to unpick everything, yes, we are.
Q112 Chair: In terms of the social media, you came before the Committee two weeks ago and you said you considered the possibility of shutting it down. Is this now something you have removed from your minds as a possible solution? The Home Office seems to be saying very clearly that they do not think it is a good idea. We have just heard the Mayor say you were saying perhaps this is not a good idea. Is this now off the agenda?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: I am sure it probably isn’t off the agenda for the Home Office and this House ultimately, I think.
Q113 Chair: What about for you as the Commissioner?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: For me, on reflection in terms of what we can use the social media for in terms of our twittering to people that are engaged in that activity, the fact that it is a useful communication tool for us as well to get our messages out, we felt that there were net-as the Mayor said, it would have been net negative to turn it off, and equally we are looking as to how we can actually use that for intelligence. One of the biggest challenges that we have is the perception that we have intelligence about everything that everybody does at any given time in the day. Can I reassure this Committee, who I think would be quite worried about that if we did, that we haven’t?
Q114 Chair: We would want to look at our files.
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: Yes. But I think-right.
Chair: If they are available, of course.
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: I wouldn’t know anything about that. I think the thing with that, Chair, is that we do have to look at how we do use that intelligence. The criticism that comes is that it was on a social media site that some place was going to be ransacked and then is, and why weren’t the police there? The actual thing is because there are about 300 other places that might be as well. I think there is an issue about that and how we use intelligence and how we make that argument. There is a lot of learning that we need to do around social media sites.
Q115 Chair: You seem to have adopted-this is your final question-a "keep calm and carry on" attitude faced with these unparalleled disorders despite the fact that some politicians, or all politicians, were suddenly involved in telling you how to do your job or making suggestions as to how you should do your job. You have been pretty firm that that crucial decision about the surge, which was made on the Tuesday, which happened on the Tuesday, was made by you and your management board on the Monday night.
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: Yes.
Q116 Chair: That nobody else was responsible, that this is a decision that you made with your colleagues and you made it alone. Is that still the case: no politician was involved in telling you to mount a surge to get more police officers on to the streets?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: That is the case.
Q117 Chair: How do you deal with the issue of the Home Secretary’s statement that she called on you to be more robust, to have more police officers out there and to cancel all leave?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: I think in that sense she was supporting the decision we had taken, Chair.
Q118 Chair: It was after the decision that you had already made?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: Naturally, I briefed the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister on the Tuesday morning as to what our plans were.
Q119 Chair: Before COBRA?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: And certainly found the Home Secretary and others to be very, very supportive in terms of bringing together the effort of all the different ministries to respond to the crisis.
Q120 Chair: But there was no question you were in charge with your management team?
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: I am in charge and I am accountable.
Q121 Chair: Mr Godwin, thank you very much for coming in. Best of luck with your application.
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin: Thank you very much.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Sir Hugh Orde, President, Association of Chief Police Officers, and Chief Constable Tim Hollis, Vice-President, Association of Chief Police Officers, gave evidence.
Q122 Chair: I am afraid we are running a bit behind. You have heard some of the questions because some will be repeated to you. Could I ask members of the Committee for brevity in putting questions because we have one further witness after we have finished with Sir Hugh and Mr Hollis and I wish to conclude as soon as practicable. Sir Hugh, when you were last before us you gave us some very helpful information. Thank you very much for coming back and thank you for your very full report that you have presented to the Committee. Thank you, Mr Hollis, for coming on this occasion. I know that you were intimately involved with the activities.
I am going to put to you, and I would like brevity in answers to my questions and those of the Committee, the Prime Minister in his statement-the same question I put to the Mayor and Mr Godwin-seemed to be inferring that mistakes were made when he spoke to the House on the 11th when Parliament was recalled, that the tactics were wrong and more police officers ought to have been deployed earlier. Do you now accept that criticism? Should it all have been done much sooner?
Sir Hugh Orde: Thank you, Chairman, for the opportunity to address you again. I think the Commissioner has very well described it and I would concur with exactly what he said. The tactics were simply a function of the number of officers available on the ground to deliver. You cannot deliver effective, robust arrest tactics without substantial numbers of officers. You simply denude the line too quickly. As the primary duty of a police officer is to preserve life first, then although those who were attacking property quite rightly are now being relentlessly pursued but at the time, in the early stages, there were not sufficient numbers to do it. I do not think it is a mistake; I think it is simply a function of the numbers.
Q123 Chair: Can I just also ask you about the issue of costs? We have the figures for the Met at £74 million. Do you have via ACPO the figures for the rest of the country in terms of how much? I know what Leicestershire’s figures are because I spoke to Simon Cole and he said he had to dip into his contingency fund. Do we have a national figure on this?
Sir Hugh Orde: Not yet. We think it is in the region of £50 million plus. We are working on a consistent approach through our ACPO head of finance business area and we will have one. As soon as we do get a figure I will make it available to you. It should not be, I don’t think, too much longer.
Q124 Chair: It is about £50 million, the total amount?
Sir Hugh Orde: On current judgement about £50 million in terms of-
Q125 Chair: The total amount in terms of policing costs for the whole country was-
Sir Hugh Orde: That would be mutual aid, Chairman. Of course, much of the aid or the additional surge in particular, as Tim has described, in the Met, was from within their own force. The additional aid, of course, was provided through PNICC when we opened as requested on Monday morning.
Q126 Chair: Can I put to you what I also put to Mr Godwin, statements made during the event? You told Newsnight on 11 August, "The fact that politicians chose to come back from holidays is an irrelevance in terms of the tactics that we were then developing. The more robust policing tactics were not a function of political interference. They were a function of numbers being available to allow the chief constables to change their tactics". Were you irritated by the presence of so many politicians? Ought they to have just stayed on holiday and ought Parliament not to have been recalled, to allow the police to have got on to do the job that they were doing?
Sir Hugh Orde: No, I think there are two different things here. The point I was clarifying is one I think politicians would wish clarified. I do not think they would want to be held responsible for delivering tactics. In the British model of policing, the tactics, as Tim has I think very clearly described and any other chief would, would be their decision and, of course, their responsibility post event, which is why we are all here. You know me too well, I do not get irritated. It was simply trying to clarify the situation in the most articulate way I could think of.
Q127 Chair: Were you part of the decision on the surge, the crucial decision, on the Monday night or was it a Met decision?
Sir Hugh Orde: Well, PNICC was opened and Tim Hollis very kindly came down to run it on a daily basis. Just discussing with Tim earlier, all the bids were in place and being arranged during the Monday in response to a continuing request from forces for increased capacity. Our role, of course, is to coordinate that response through PNICC to negotiate with forces when the situation gets to a point where the regional response that the Commissioner described is inadequate.
Q128 Chair: But that is just the Commissioner, because ACPO’s role seems to be, and Mr Hollis’s role in particular, the co-ordinator of all these forces. Were you asked, either of you, on the Monday night, "Do you think we should have a surge?" or did you leave this to the Met?
Chief Constable Tim Hollis: We didn’t leave it to the Met. The first call, and it was from myself-and I was up in Sheffield enjoying my birthday weekend day off-on the Monday to PNICC, to the officer in charge, was at 8.40am. 8.40am on the Monday morning because, of course, I had observed and listened to what had happened the previous night. I am a former Metropolitan Police officer, I have a public order background, so I recognised that things were starting to increase in intensity, and a call to Sir Hugh seven minutes later, and he was in Devon on leave. So we were already-
Chair: We were all on leave.
Chief Constable Tim Hollis: Apparently, yes.
Chair: It was August. This is England.
Chief Constable Tim Hollis: The point I am making is that communication was already starting within the police service. The first call from the Metropolitan Police to PNICC was at 9.30am on the Monday. This was for additional mutual aid that afternoon and, as the Acting Commissioner has correctly pointed out, they had already used the conventional system, which is to contact the surrounding forces, if you have spontaneous disorder, for the initial call. Quite rightly, in my opinion, they recognised that things were escalating to a level where PNICC was required to start co-ordinating the national response. The other point I would make is that at 10.58am the same morning they were also asking us to put in place arrangements for a period commencing on the following day, the Tuesday, through to the 15th. So the Met were already thinking about the longer term continuation resilience issues, as well as dealing with the immediate issues on the Monday.
Q129 Chair: Do you get the point of-we are not experts, you are the experts-lay politicians who are not experts in these matters, who would have thought after what happened on the Saturday night in Tottenham-I too was on leave and I was watching this from abroad-that something might happen in Birmingham or Leicester or Oxford or Manchester on the Sunday and that something else might happen on the Monday, the idea of a copycat event? Why did the police not foresee on the Sunday rather than on the Monday that there was going to be a problem elsewhere? Copycat riots have happened in the past, haven’t they? You did not have to wait to be asked. Is this something that good policing ought to take into consideration, or am I wrong?
Sir Hugh Orde: I am sure Tim will come in, Chair. Of course they did, and I know you are calling a number of chief constables who will tell you exactly what they did as these things built up, the point being PNICC only opens when it gets to a point where the forces can’t cope at a regional level. Say, for example, West Midlands, Greater Manchester, would be communicating with their colleagues in the regional area to send mutual aid to support each other as it built up. It got to a point, clearly on the Monday, where a number of forces said they could not cope and, of course, when it gets to that point we have to be in a position to arrange it at a national level. The other point I think worth making is the reason it worked was the tireless work of a very small number of people within PNICC but also there were large areas of the country that were peaceful. It was from those areas that we could draw the resource to put into the areas that were certainly not peaceful.
Q130 Michael Ellis: Chief Constable Hollis, I think this is for you, but I invite either of you to respond. I have been speaking to some frontline junior ranking police officers, who were part of the mutual aid deployment to the Metropolitan Police area and a couple of issues have been brought to my attention. One was that apparently there was at least one episode where officers from outside the Metropolitan Police area who had been deployed in their own vehicles could not go to a borough where they were needed because their radios would not work in that borough, whereas apparently they did work in another borough. So I am first asking about the effectiveness of communication. Secondly, I was told that petrol stations had, for rather obvious reasons, been asked to close during the height of the disturbances. I say obvious, presumably it was to prevent people from using them to make petrol bombs. This had the effect of causing police vehicles to run out of petrol, and I have been told of one episode where an ambulance broke down because it ran out of petrol. Do you have anything to say about those obvious difficulties?
Chief Constable Tim Hollis: On the interoperability, the police service now has Airwave. It was a problem in the past when we had our own different radio systems. As a result of the Airwave system, all forces now have Airwave. Obviously you asking me specific details of one location; I can’t account for that particularly. There may be issues about the setting that it is on, what it is authorised to pick up, but the radios themselves are intended to be interoperable between forces, between officers. Issues, therefore, for the local force are about what band they were on and what the facilities were.
Q131 Michael Ellis: Is this an issue that has arisen before?
Chief Constable Tim Hollis: Not to my knowledge, but it may well have done. One of the things we are picking up is through ACPO public order. Chief Constable Sue Sim, who chairs that, is in the debrief process learning the issues that have come up. There are a number of tactical issues about vehicles and the co-ordination between forces that we are learning from and I am sure that will be one.
Q132 Michael Ellis: Sorry. The question about the petrol stations?
Chair: Very quickly. Petrol stations?
Sir Hugh Orde: I think that is again exactly the same. It is the sort of learning you pick up, these things are unusual events. Traditionally, most forces would have their own suppliers. Of course, with many of those under procurement it is now a lot cheaper to use a contract. Obviously that sort of stuff will come up and I am sure Sir Denis will pick it up too.
Q133 Nicola Blackwood: We heard from the Mayor and the Acting Commissioner that they had discussions about the suspension of social media during the course of the public disorder and their acceptance of the key role that social media played in the spreading of the disorder. You are quoted as saying that the use of chitter chatter via social media sites by criminals engaged in the unrest was a distinguishing feature in the disturbances. I wonder if ACPO and yourself in particular, Sir Hugh, were also engaged in those discussions about the suspension and what your particular view is about the suspension of social media in cases of public disorder.
Sir Hugh Orde: The Home Secretary has taken the lead, quite rightly, on this and has already had a meeting in which ACPO-not me personally-has been heavily involved. I think I am at one with the current Home Office view, which is it would probably have been disproportionate and also extremely difficult. I think the benefit of having it, rather than not having it, is probably the way to go in controlling it as best you can. Certainly much of the intelligence, and indeed much of the evidence, has been drawn from these machines, so I think it is one of those balancing acts. My sense is-I am agreeing with the Commissioner rather a lot today, aren’t I?-that the benefits outweigh the costs. One of the unique things I think I said at the first meeting that we came to here, albeit not a full and formal hearing, was that even the crowds didn’t know where they were going until they communicated it on these things. So if we can pick it up, and there is a huge volume of this stuff, and I think there is some really interesting technology we need to look at around that, I think we might be able to pre-empt where they are going in the future if we can get ahead of the curve. But it is a big piece of business.
Q134 Nicola Blackwood: In that case, the challenge surely is how to use the social media intelligence effectively. One of the problems that we experienced locally in Oxford West and Abingdon, was that a lot of the locations and the targets that were being reported and bandied around Twitter turned out to be false, and actually had the police responded to all of those locations it would have been an enormous waste of public money and police time. Are ACPO looking at the moment into ways in which we can improve the analysis of social media, the use of social media intelligence?
Sir Hugh Orde: That is very much part of the Home Secretary’s mission in the group that we are representing. I do think it is right that it is led by the Home Office because there may be some requirement for legislation, frankly, if one is going to take a harder edge. What you have described, of course, is the challenge of intelligence. What it does do is give you another opportunity to triangulate other stuff that you may well also be picking up. We are very aware of the misinformation. It has worked very well on EDL marches, for example, where forces have used Twitter to dispel rumours and to prevent things escalating, as well as for more traditional sort of communication. It is one of those ones that we are coming to terms with. In terms of when the crowd gets to a place, then of course we need to look at the tactics and Sir Denis is also looking at that.
Q135 Nicola Blackwood: Do you use your role to disseminate best practice use of social media, to use it in a positive sense for forces to communicate with the local community?
Sir Hugh Orde: All the EDL stuff has come out through discussions at ACPO level. One of the things that has come out is that if ACPO has a value-Members will have a view on that-I think it is getting the chiefs together. They come together every three months at ACPO cabinet, which is a smaller group of business area leads who share and agree policy; all that enables that communication. In fact, in this case one of the most useful and new events, which was the Home Secretary’s initiative, was a telephone conference between 43 chiefs, and even within that interesting, very fast time developments were being shared, and if we had not had that opportunity we would have had to think of something different. So, yes, we are adapting, we do use it to circulate best practice and, of course, all the business leads, all the policy and guidance is based on that shared learning.
Q136 Chair: Are you telling me that was the first time that the Home Secretary has had a conference call with all chiefs?
Sir Hugh Orde: Normally the Home Secretary turns up in person, Chairman, at our special events and has a direct conversation, but in this event that was not practical. To get 43 chief constables on the phone is a challenge, they were all pretty busy, and of course it is a far more limited event-only the key people spoke but everyone had the facility to listen.
Chair: I get the point. Thank you, Sir Hugh.
Q137 Mark Reckless: You have told us that ACPO is committed to learning lessons from what happened and has launched a post-event review. When will this report and will it look critically at ACPO’s own role?
Chief Constable Tim Hollis: The one I undertook, because I contacted all 43 forces immediately after a hot debrief, two issues. One, the role of PNICC, any lessons to learn, and there were some lessons we learned on the hoof during that week. Secondly, the issue about information because we had a big demand for information from Government Departments and we tried to work with the Home Office to co-ordinate that more effectively so that we could actually ensure that. That has been completed and that is part of the hot debrief, very impressionistic. That has already been fed into our formal debrief process.
Q138 Mark Reckless: It seems to me from your letter of 22 August that ACPO has already given itself a clean brief. It says that during a conference call on 10 August Chief Constable Hughes assured the Home Secretary, "He had reviewed the ACPO Keeping the Peace manual of guidance and determined that it incorporated the whole range of tactical options. He emphasised that the challenge was how the police service implemented the tactics".
Sir Hugh Orde: I think that is a fair assessment in relation to the tactics. There are a lot of questions about the tactics, and indeed Members have been asking the Commissioner today and the Mayor about the tactics. The tactics that were found to be effective were the vehicle tactics, and I think this is what Chief Constable Hughes was referring to. Vehicle tactics are not new and they do exist in the manual. They have not been used routinely on the mainland, for want of a better description. They have been used routinely in Northern Ireland. The tactic exists. Now, are we looking at and working very closely with Sir Denis’s inquiry? Yes we are. If there is found to be a need for new tactics or rethinking how we operate, there will be, without question. I think Sir Denis is best placed for that because he can look at it with mature reflection and we can learn from what he finds.
Q139 Mark Reckless: But isn’t the problem with the manual that it states itself, and I quote from the manual that, "It relates to the policing of large scale national and regional events and the routine policing of local community events. This type of policing is centred on the management of crowds". Is that really sufficient for dealing with this wide scale looting? You have told us there were small groups of lots of people and it was a new challenge. Isn’t there an issue that this manual was too focused on managing the political protest and wasn’t very helpful for the police in this situation?
Sir Hugh Orde: It would be highly unlikely to use, for example, vehicle tactics against political protests unless they got extremely violent. So the tactics cover a range of things from peaceful crowd containment right through to the firing of baton rounds and use of water cannons. There is a whole spectrum. Should we look at it again? Yes, of course we should. Sir Denis’s terms of reference certainly cover that, and we will certainly engage with Sue Sims as our lead. Some new things happened in that pretty difficult week in policing. The ones that struck me as new were the lack of pre-intelligence of any sort, mainly because the groups themselves didn’t know where they were going, and the fact it happened in so many sites, 22 in London and, of course, across the country. That was new. That is as much a resourcing issue as a tactics issue, so we need to look at all of it, but I am more interested in how we can gear up more quickly and what other systems we need to get the intelligence, if it exists, without, of course, going completely overboard.
Q140 Mark Reckless: Would it not have been better if the police just used their own discretion and applied common sense in this situation, rather than looking to this public order manual as if it was going to contain the answers to what you admit were unprecedented and unexpected events?
Sir Hugh Orde: I think they did and if you saw the evidence of footage, I don’t think chief superintendents leading baton charges down Sutton High Street is in the manual, frankly. Baton charges are in the manual but not that specific. I think the cops adapted very well with the resources they had to do the best they could and it reminds me, if one goes way back to the late 1970s, of the first Notting Hill Carnival. We were equipped with dustbin lids. I think it has developed. I am absolutely up for learning, but I don’t want to get too obsessed with what tactics are available. It is what is right for the circumstances.
Q141 Mark Reckless: Would this not have been dealt with 24 hours earlier if the politicians had not been on holiday?
Sir Hugh Orde: No, I don’t think anything would have changed. The question around judgement calls, sitting back with having the luxury of not having any police force to command is an easy place to pass comment from, but when I spoke to Tim and we were looking at the timeline, I think I spoke to every chief, as did Tim, who was affected every day during that, at least once if not more, if a chief had said to me, "Look, I’ve doubled my capacity, I’m now at 6,000, I was at 3,000", that is a huge surge. I suspect if one had said with hindsight, "I’ve actually quadrupled it to 24,000", I expect I would be here explaining, or the Chief might be explaining, why they wasted huge amounts of resources with huge numbers of officers doing absolutely nothing. It is a judgement call. Again, Sir Denis will be able to form a view on whether we reacted quickly enough with the intelligence we had, but I think it is very easy to second guess what was a difficult situation.
Q142 Dr Huppert: This Keeping the Peace manual, as you know, is a joint publication between ACPO, ACPOS and the NPIA, the National Police Improvement Agency. I was in contact just after the riots with Nick Gargan who runs NPIA and he said that clearly it needs to be updated. Would you support that, given that NPIA thinks that is the case?
Sir Hugh Orde: The lead for us, as you know, is the Chief of South Yorkshire, although he will shortly be replaced because he is retiring. I think we need to be careful about undue haste and suddenly saying we will throw all this up in the air. There are tried and tested tactics around peaceful protests and of course the British model is based, as the Commissioner pointed out, on minimum use of force and maximum use of persuasion, engagement and no surprises. If Sir Denis comes up with something and says, "Look, there are some clear gaps here", of course we will respond to that. I think when Her Majesty’s Inspectorate, looking at their terms of reference, which are pretty broad, can sit back and take the evidence in reasonably short order and say, "We have identified some key gaps" then, yes, absolutely. These should be live documents, otherwise they are worthless, frankly.
Q143 Dr Huppert: May I make a brief observation? You talked about Airwave and the radio usage. There was an EDL protest in Cambridge and I spent the day in the gold command room seeing what was happening. One thing that I was told by people who were there from a range of agencies, NPIA, other forces, was that on many occasions radios do not work when people move to a different area, that there are problems with the whole thing collapsing at critical times. I was told the story about people being issued with emergency radios when it collapses, mobile phones being used. I don’t necessarily need a comment on this now, just an assurance that this will be looked at very seriously, because clearly that is a complete disaster.
May I also just ask briefly about how PNICC works, since Chief Constable Hollis is here? How does the whole process work? Does it start when a force calls for help? Can the centre be activated in advance, seeing that something is happening and help might be needed? How quickly can you get going?
Chief Constable Tim Hollis: PNICC is a part of the ACPO responsibilities. It consists of three people, so it is permanently staffed by three. It has a day job; it is currently the security provision for the Olympics, so it has additional staff from the Olympics to look at the massive supply of mutual aid to the Metropolitan Police and the Olympic forces. A lot of work is being done on that. As I have already said, PNICC is already there and I contacted them on the morning of the Monday. The convention is that it has no executive role so if forces contact PNICC then obviously PNICC will make a judgement that can be operated and start to activate and co-ordinate the mutual aid. That is exactly what did happen on the day in question, on Monday the 8th. So it is a very modest organisation. The following day we upped it when on the Tuesday it became a 24-hour facility. We had additional people in there so it was running 24 hours a day to meet that extraordinary demand.
Q144 Chair: Why is it a modest operation? This is the sixth largest economy in the world; it is the centre for all kinds of activities. Surely we should have more resources that are available to do these kinds of things?
Sir Hugh Orde: Chairman, I am absolutely with you on that.
Chair: I thought you might be.
Sir Hugh Orde: Everything I have within ACPO has to be funded.
Chair: I am not talking about ACPO, I am talking about-
Sir Hugh Orde: Well, PNICC is funded through the forces and of course that may change next year and I am in conversation with the Home Secretary. What it has proved is that in a 44-force model it is essential to have a co-ordinating function. The officers who are there can operate remotely, they all carry laptops, so it can be operated almost instantly from a remote location if need be. It is important to remember that the Scottish police forces also provided substantial help, so there was a link to Scotland, which we were deeply grateful for.
Q145 Mr Winnick: At the moment when the disturbances occurred, the overall responsibility for dealing with the situation was with the Metropolitan Police. Is that the situation, Sir Hugh?
Sir Hugh Orde: Within the Metropolitan Police area, every chief constable is responsible for their territory, so the Commissioner was responsible for events in London.
Q146 Mr Winnick: So as far as ACPO is concerned, its role would be what, in the circumstances that occurred-advising at all stages, or what?
Sir Hugh Orde: I have a number of roles. One is, of course, to support the Commissioner and other chiefs in getting the resource they ask me for and we met every request from every chief for mutual aid. As I said, without Scotland we would have been struggling, frankly. That was one role. My other role is, of course, to attend COBRA on behalf of chief constables. Of course, the Commissioner was also in COBRA and we did on a couple of occasions link chief constables from particular forces into COBRA so they could brief the Prime Minister personally, West Midlands and Greater Manchester being the two examples. My other role is in COBRA to advise Government, to give Government the state of play on behalf of chiefs who are responsible for delivering the actual tactics on the ground and keeping communities safe. I have no operational role at all.
Q147 Mr Winnick: To get it absolutely clear, the responsibility lies with the chief constables as the case may be and, as far as the Met is concerned, with the Commissioner or Acting Commissioner, not with ACPO?
Sir Hugh Orde: I think the Commissioner made that explicit, and he is absolutely right, it rests with the Commissioner.
Mr Winnick: And the chief constables obviously.
Sir Hugh Orde: And the chief constables.
Mr Winnick: Thank you.
Q148 Chair: You heard Mr Winnick’s previous questions on Mark Duggan. With your vast experience in Northern Ireland, it seems that this was the trigger that started off what happened in Tottenham that led to the disorders elsewhere. That is certainly what other chief constables have said to me, Chris Sims in Birmingham and others; it started with this incident. Could it have been handled better? I know there is an investigation, but the way in which we handle incidents of that kind that could lead in the end to a taxpayer’s bill of £125 million-everyone believes that that was the trigger. Could we have handled that better?
Sir Hugh Orde: Well, I think it would be wrong of me to comment on that, Chairman, for the reasons in the answer I gave before. You kindly talk about my experience in Northern Ireland. I think what we are talking about is a critical incident, and in fairness the Metropolitan Police has led on critical incident training and recognising these things and dealing with them. The Commissioner has already said he would rather have seen some things done differently, in particular around family liaison. I think that was also a point made publicly by the IPCC, but I know you are hearing evidence from them. My sense of it was that it was something taken very seriously. Whether one can attribute to that death-and any death is regrettable, frankly-nationwide rioting I think is a bit optimistic and hopefully Sir Denis, will be able to come up with some thoughts on that. Speaking to some of the chiefs, quite interestingly, for example, they are saying that within one force area there were a number of different reasons for rioting. In the centres of town, this was what I call criminal consumerism, but in some of the suburbs and residential areas there may have been a different underlying cause. I think we need to dismantle that.
Q149 Chair: I agree with the notion of underlying cause but people are watching this on Sky and on BBC; it is a live feed. If I could see it in Italy and you could see it in Devon and Mr Hollis could see it in the middle of his birthday party, the fact is this was encouraging others. Very distinguished police officers have said to me, and they are going to give evidence next week, that if it wasn’t for Tottenham, we would not have had Lewisham, we would not have had Wood Green, we would not have had Croydon, we would not have had the spread rioting we have seen. You must accept that that was the trigger.
Sir Hugh Orde: It certainly was a trigger. Was it the trigger to the over three or four days is a really good question. I am relying an awful lot on Sir Denis I know, but it may be that a more thoughtful step back and look at all of this and discussions with all the chiefs may give us a wider understanding. This country, going back through the centuries, seems to have a desire to riot now and again. Whether this is some endemic thing looking forward, we will have to wait and see.
Q150 Mr Winnick: In the absence of a public inquiry-a number of parliamentary colleagues have called for a public inquiry apart from the inquiry that the Select Committee is carrying out-one of the questions we have to decide in due course when we write our report is would any of these disturbances have occurred without the shooting of Mr Duggan? That, of course, is a very important question, which does not in any way, as I said earlier on, justify in the slightest the looting and the disorder, and indeed worse that occurred in Birmingham. But would any of this have occurred without the shooting of Mr Duggan? I wonder if you recognise, Sir Hugh, that is very much a question that will be decided by us in making our report?
Sir Hugh Orde: It is an extremely good question. I am delighted you got the challenge because I am not sure I know the answer. I am not sure anyone knows the answer, to be quite honest. It was an event and then if one looks at the consequences of that event, they were huge. There have been issues before. I remember in Brixton the shooting of Cherry Groce, I think, years and years ago led to riots but they were localised. There wasn’t this eruption across the country.
Q151 Michael Ellis: As regards costs, have you had any discussions at ACPO with central government about how the costs incurred by each force will be met in respect of these riots?
Sir Hugh Orde: Well, certainly the Prime Minister has made some observations in relation to riot damages. Chief constables are working with their police authorities in relation to the total costs or the additional cost. There are no promises to date that this will be met. There are rules around what you can claim in exceptional circumstances, but a case has to be made and it is a matter for individual chiefs to make them. What we will be in a position to do, Chairman, through the work of the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire, Grahame Maxwell, is to tell you what the costs are-the total costs.
Q152 Chair: The Prime Minister told the House on 11 August, in response to a question from me, that the Treasury will stand by the police in terms of these costs. Do you mean that we need to find out what the words "stand by" mean, or are you not-
Michael Ellis: We need to find out what the costs are first.
Sir Hugh Orde: I think in fairness to the Prime Minister, it would be helpful to know what the costs are. Tim?
Chief Constable Tim Hollis: Two things. On the Monday lunchtime an e - mail I sent to a colleague at the Home Office who had been asking what might happen actually said , "T here are goi ng to be significant costs here; a s a chief constable, ans werable to my police authority- and I have a m eeting with my chair this week- they are very interested as to what interpretation is put on what should be borne by forces in the normal cost of events and contingency funds and what will be coming from central G overnment. "
Q153 Michael Ellis: So have these extra costs come through?
Chief Constable Tim Hollis: Not yet. The operation is still running. I have assigned officers in London today as we speak, still on Operation Kirkin, still running until after-
Q154 Michael Ellis: So we cannot expect central Government to have worked out something before you yourselves have worked out what the costs actually are?
Chief Constable Tim Hollis: Correct, but it is in hand.
Q155 Chair: Just dealing with the issue of the handover of tapes from the BBC and ITV and Sky, is there still a dispute about the handover of information, or are they prepared to give footage of those involved to enable the police to prosecute? Do you know the answer?
Sir Hugh Orde: I am afraid I don’t know the answer. I will have to get back to you, Chairman.
Q156 Chair: Do you have a view on this? Is there an ACPO view on this?
Sir Hugh Orde: There is legislation around this. In my previous experience in Northern Ireland we would normally have to go to court to secure an order to secure those tapes, and that is how it worked and then they were handed over. I don’t know if it is still an issue. I will find out for you.
Chair: Mr Hollis, Sir Hugh, thank you very much for coming to give evidence. Best of luck with your application, Sir Hugh.
Sir Hugh Orde: Thank you, Sir.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Len Jackson, Interim Chair, Independent Police Complaints Commission, and Deborah Glass, Deputy Chair, Independent Police Complaints Commission, gave evidence.
Q157 Chair: Mr Jackson, Ms Glass, thank you very much for coming. Our apologies for keeping you waiting. I’m afraid it is the nature of these inquiries that Members have questions to put, but I am most grateful to you for coming. You have written to us and given us a very full explanation of the involvement of the IPCC in these matters. I would like to ask initially about the contact between the police and the family of Mark Duggan, which clearly was the issue that we wish to discuss with you today. Is when the Duggan family was informed going to be part of your terms of reference? Our understanding is that the Duggan family only found out about these matters when they watched it on national television. Is that going to be part of your inquiry or is it not?
Deborah Glass: If I may answer that question, Mr Chairman. The focus of the investigation is going to be very much on the wider circumstances of Mark Duggan’s death-essentially whether the use of force was lawful and proportionate, but clearly we are aware of the wider concerns being expressed by both the family and the community and we are anxious to address those. Whether it forms part of the wider investigation or whether it will be addressed separately is something that we are still looking into. We certainly intend to look into those questions.
Q158 Chair: Why is it taking so long? Clearly, we have had an incident in Tottenham, we know what has happened in terms of the public disorders that followed this, the Prime Minister has made statements, the Home Secretary has made a statement, Parliament has been recalled, we are holding this inquiry, you are holding an inquiry, others are holding inquiries. When are you going to decide what your terms of reference are? It seems very odd that you do not know what your full terms of reference are.
Deborah Glass: That is not quite the case. The core investigation here is the investigation into Mark Duggan’s death. That investigation began on the night of 4 August and is continuing. What we have said, and the coroner has been advised, is that will take between four and six months.
Q159 Chair: We understand that. I understand what you are investigating, this Committee understands it, we have looked to the IPCC before, but why are you taking so long to add to the terms of reference the issue of communication between the police and the family of Mr Duggan, which seems to be the cause of so many problems in Tottenham? Why is this process taking so long? Isn’t it a no-brainer?
Deborah Glass: Not exactly, Mr Chairman. The reason is that it is being discussed very closely with community representatives as part of the community reference group that has been set up with this case.
Chair: Which representatives?
Deborah Glass: There is a community reference group that has been set up with this case. The Commissioner responsible for the case is liaising very closely with that group to talk to them about the kinds of issues they would wish to see reflected in the investigation.
Q160 Chair: How many people are on this group?
Deborah Glass: At the moment there are four people on this group.
Q161 Chair: How do they get appointed to this group?
Deborah Glass: It is a process that is essentially led by the Commissioner responsible for the case, there is no sort of formal structure here. The group started rather larger than this, the day following the riots. There were a large number of people who wanted to be part of it. What the Commissioner has done is try to ensure that it is a manageable size.
Q162 Chair: Well, four is certainly manageable. Are there members of the family on this group?
Deborah Glass: The family are updated separately. There are separate responsibilities in relation to keeping the family updated and the family are being updated on a weekly basis.
Q163 Chair: It sounds most unsatisfactory. The whole nation is looking at this issue in one way or another, and surely it should be up to the IPCC to say this is a relevant factor-the communication between the police and the family, which apparently caused the people to go outside the police station and cause the disorders in the first place. Surely it is something that the IPCC can add to the terms of reference rather than an unelected group which seems to have been created on an ad hoc basis.
Deborah Glass: It is a relevant factor and it is being looked into.
Q164 Chair: But that is not the answer. When would we have an answer on what are the terms of reference?
Deborah Glass: One of the reasons why this may be looked into separately is it will allow us to publish the outcome and the answers to these questions in advance of the investigation into Mark Duggan’s death, which inevitably would wait until the judicial and coronial processes are completed.
Chair: Of course. I understand that.
Deborah Glass: So what I am eager to do is to ensure that there is no delay, so that as soon as the answers are available to these questions we will make them available.
Q165 Chair: There clearly is a delay because this event occurred weeks ago, and on Thursday this Committee is taking evidence from the local Member of Parliament and the Home Secretary about these matters. Surely a decision can be made now as to what is in the terms of reference, even if it is a separate inquiry, and what isn’t. We understand perfectly your point about judicial issues and the fact that there could be prosecutions and why it should be separate. Isn’t the issue of communication central to part of these issues?
Deborah Glass: The issue of communication is central and it is being looked into; whether as part of a separate inquiry or as part of this one is a matter-
Q166 Chair: It is being looked into by whom?
Deborah Glass: The IPCC board of investigations.
Q167 Chair: So there is an investigation into the issue of the communication between the police and Mr Duggan’s family?
Deborah Glass: These are the concerns that are being expressed and as I have indicated-
Q168 Chair: No, not the concerns, Ms Glass; I don’t think you understand my question. Is it being investigated or not? Yes or no.
Len Jackson: Yes, it is.
Chair: Thank you.
Q169 Steve McCabe: I was just wondering if there was more of an answer to come. Am I right in thinking that you said that you expect to conclude your investigation in four to six months? That is right. I presume part of the investigation will involve interviewing the officers who were involved. Has that already happened?
Deborah Glass: I hope the Committee will understand why it is not possible for us to provide an up-to-date account of what the investigation has achieved thus far.
Q170 Steve McCabe: I am not asking that. I am just asking if you have interviewed the officers who were involved, not what the outcome of that interview was. I am asking: have you interviewed the officers who were involved?
Deborah Glass: We have accounts from the officers.
Q171 Steve McCabe: You are a lawyer, aren’t you? I don’t want to get into technical legalese here, but when I say have you interviewed the officers and you say you have accounts, should I conclude you have not yet interviewed the officers?
Deborah Glass: I think that it is a conclusion-
Steve McCab e: I can draw that conclusion.
Deborah Glass: You can draw whatever conclusion you wish, Mr McCabe.
Chair: Ms Glass, this is not a contest; this is a Select Committee inquiry of Parliament. You are not here to have discussions; you are here to answer questions. I think it is much better, if a question is put from Mr McCabe, "Have you interviewed?" the answer is either yes or no. It will proceed better, I think, if we have straight answers to the questions. Mr McCabe?
Q172 Steve McCabe: A witness to this Committee previously said that if the roles were reversed and it was a police officer, tragically, who had been shot then you would expect that the people involved would be interviewed immediately, not months later. What is the justification for the IPCC taking so long to interview the officers directly involved in the incident? Is there some rational reason for that? Normally one would expect the interview to take place immediately following the event so that you get the most comprehensive information possible.
Deborah Glass: There are two broad issues here. The first is that police officers are lawfully authorised to carry weapons and therefore they are authorised to use them when it is absolutely necessary to do so, so there is a contrast between a police officer carrying a weapon and a member of the public carrying a weapon. What we will look at in any investigation is whether the use of lethal force was absolutely necessary. With any investigation, we will consider whether the officers are witnesses or suspects. They can only be treated as suspects if there is evidence to allow us to treat them as suspects, otherwise they are witnesses. What we cannot do-
Q173 Steve McCabe: Let me ask one last thing then and I will leave it here. Why do you get a better understanding about the use of lethal force if you wait several months before you interview the participants?
Deborah Glass: I’m not suggesting that at all, Mr McCabe.
Q174 Steve McCabe: Well, why the delay? I don’t think I have understood your answer.
Len Jackson: Can I answer in broader terms?
Steve McCabe: An answer would be good in any terms but at the moment I haven’t had one.
Len Jackson: Quite often in investigations in general of this kind there is quite a bit of forensic evidence that can take some time to get together. It is quite often sensible under those circumstances to ensure you have all of that evidence and its results available to you before you interview someone, whether they are a witness or a suspect. That is a judgement call for investigators to make, and investigators make that judgement and it is different in each case.
Q175 Steve McCabe: Mr Jackson, that is interesting, but of course that is not the procedure that is normally followed by the police. They don’t suspend the prospect of interviewing until they have collated all the forensic evidence. They interview and they collect the evidence as they are going along. Is there something unique about the way you arrive at your conclusions that means you operate differently to the way the police conduct their investigations?
Len Jackson: No, Mr McCabe, it is not that there is something unique; it is simply, as Deborah has described, that there are differences between a police officer carrying and indeed using a weapon and a member of the public carrying and using a weapon. Therefore, it is important for the IPCC in its investigations-because they are different, investigating police officers from investigating members of the public. There are times, therefore, when an investigation may take a different course.
Q176 Steve McCabe: Do you think the public watching this exchange will be full of confidence about your inquiry?
Len Jackson: One of the difficulties we always have with inquiries like this is that the family, and indeed the public, want answers quicker than we are able to provide those answers. That is true of families, it is true too of police officers, and indeed if you look at the social network at the moment you will see that there are people who are accusing the IPCC of being too close to the family and the community and people who say that we are too close to the police. The truth of the matter, of course, is that we sit in the middle in a very, as you put it, unique position of independence. It is our job to find the truth and therefore the investigation is designed to do just that. If it takes time to do that, it is much better to do it slowly and get it right than do it quickly and not.
Chair: Mr Jackson, thank you. That is actually also the role of Parliament. The reason we sit here is that we are independent and we seek the truth.
Q177 Nicola Blackwood: I am sure that everyone on the Committee understands the need to properly consider all of the evidence and take the time to make the correct judgement. However, what I am not sure I quite understand is why you wouldn’t want to get accounts from all those involved in the incidents, witnesses, relatives, and suspects, as quickly as possible because then surely recollections would be at their freshest and you would get the most accurate information. So that is why I think it is confusing that the implication we have received from your answers so far is that interviews would be delayed by several months, because then surely you would lose valuable information and your investigation would then be hampered and undermined were it to come to a prosecution.
Deborah Glass: I am sorry if I gave that impression, because that isn’t the case and you are absolutely right that it is important to get accounts as quickly as possible. What we seek to do is to get witness accounts as quickly as possible. The question I was trying to answer, and I am sorry if it didn’t come across very clearly in relation to the question of witnesses and suspects, is that if somebody is a witness-and we are in the same position as the police in this regard-we have no power to compel witness evidence. So that applies whether that is witness evidence from the public or evidence from the police. That puts us in the same position as a police officer investigating a crime. There are sometimes delays as a result of that process, but what we seek to do, as far as possible-and generally the police are co-operative in that process, so we are not lacking accounts in this case-we will seek to get that evidence as quickly as possible.
Q178 Bridget Phillipson: Can you just explain for the sake of clarity what you mean by an account? What is the process of, presumably, your staff taking accounts from those involved?
Deborah Glass: A statement about what happened would be an account.
Q179 Bridget Phillipson: In the same way that a police officer would take a statement from the victim of a crime?
Deborah Glass: For example.
Q180 Dr Huppert: Some of the early stories about what happened contained the news or the suggestion that there was an exchange of gunfire between Mr Duggan and the police. I believe the IPCC has now accepted that it was the source of that story. How did that happen?
Deborah Glass: Well, it was certainly one source. One of our staff made a mistake in the very early hours following the incident, and when we realised we had made that mistake the following week we admitted it and we apologised. The context for that is very important. The information that was known, and there was very little, was that there had been an armed operation; that a member of the public had been fatally shot; and that a police officer had been wounded and taken to hospital. There was an inference that was drawn from that and I don’t believe we were the only ones who drew that inference, but it was wrong.
Q181 Dr Huppert: Were you the first people to say that publicly?
Deborah Glass: That I don’t know. It didn’t appear in any of our official lines because it had not been verified but we did become aware the following week that one of our staff had referred to an exchange of fire. I don’t believe that he was the only person to have done so. I believe there are witness reports also that refer to this.
Q182 Dr Huppert: Do you think that the family of Mark Duggan and the community in that area have confidence in your investigation? How would you assess their level of trust in this process?
Deborah Glass: It is obviously very difficult. We work in a controversial and adversarial environment. We are closely engaged with the family of Mark Duggan; there are meetings with them every week; we are closely working with the community; we have a reference group set up, also meeting regularly; and we are keeping them informed. I think we have to accept that it is a very difficult, adversarial process and we are doing what we can to ensure that people have confidence in the outcome.
Q183 Dr Huppert: You have not quite answered the question. You said you are keeping them informed, you said that you try to have conversations. How would you assess their level of confidence though? If you are keeping them informed you must get some feedback from them.
Deborah Glass: I think that as long as they are engaging with us they clearly feel that we have something to contribute to this and that is what we intend to go on doing.
Q184 Mr Winnick: Are any of the investigators looking into the unfortunate death of Mr Duggan formerly members of the Metropolitan Police?
Len Jackson: Yes, there are some 13 investigators currently involved in this investigation.
Mr Winnick: 13?
Len Jackson: Yes, and in answer to your question, two of them are ex-Metropolitan Police officers.
Q185 Mr Winnick: The person, Ms Glass, that made the mistake of saying-I am referring to the answer you gave to Dr Huppert-that there was an exchange of fire, was that person involved with the police previously?
Deborah Glass: No, that was the on-call press officer.
Q186 Mr Winnick: As regards the current investigation that is taking place, is it advisable that someone who was involved with the police-nothing dishonourable, far from it-should be one of the investigators?
Len Jackson: We believe, and we make no apologies for this, that it is important to have the right skill sets to do what are quite often complex investigations and ex-senior police officers are quite often people with those skill sets. Currently, just over a quarter of our investigators are ex-police officers, which of course means that three-quarters are not and are trained to become investigators. It would be impossible to provide the quality and the level of investigation that we do provide without having some ex-police officers on the books.
Q187 Mr Winnick: Do you know at this moment in time-you may not have expected this question-what rank the two held in the Metropolitan Police?
Len Jackson: Not without checking, but they would be of a fairly senior rank, up to at least inspector or chief inspector. I would need to check that and I am perfectly willing to come back to you if you would like me to.
Mr Winnick: If you would, thank you.
Q188 Alun Michael: Can we come back to the issue of communications with the family and with the community? There have in the past been complaints by witnesses to this Committee of a lack of information provided by the IPCC to bereaved families, both at the start and in the course of the investigations. Can you tell us how you are managing the contact with the family and the community in this case?
Deborah Glass: Our family liaison managers first made contact with the family on the Friday and spent several hours with about 14 members of the family and friends on the Saturday, round about lunchtime at the mortuary, provided them with contact details, the name of the Commissioner and gave them the opportunity to put any questions that they had, explained that this was going to be the subject of an independent investigation. There was a considerable amount of contact in the first 24, 48 hours, clearly a very difficult time for the family. The information we had was that the parents were not up to seeing the IPCC. That was confirmed directly to the Commissioner on the Sunday. She then had a meeting with family members on the Sunday afternoon and contact has continued since then on essentially a weekly basis. Clearly these are challenging areas for the IPCC, and indeed for communities, and I would just emphasise that point-that of course they have questions and they want answers, and the frustrating thing is that we don’t have the answers yet available, that answers will take time.
Q189 Steve McCabe: How many live investigations is your organisation currently dealing with?
Len Jackson: In a given year we would cover about 170 independent investigations and then a number of managed and supervised ones too. So, we may have getting on towards 100 that would be live at any one time. Those are independent investigations, and that is apart from all the other work that we do around appeals and so on.
Q190 Steve McCabe: So about 100 at the moment. Where does this investigation rank in terms of the amount of resources and time that are being devoted to it?
Len Jackson: In any initial investigation there is always an intensive amount of work and we would devote a significant number of investigators to it. When you think that we have approximately 130 to 140 investigators across the country, putting as many as I have suggested on this particular investigation at this time is significant but it is a significant investigation. We have to manage our resources as best we can in that context and, of course, as we develop the lines of inquiry we can judge how many we will need to continue.
Q191 Michael Ellis: You have spoken about the number of investigations conducted annually. From recent IPCC casework, what is your assessment of the state of police and community relations in England and Wales at the moment? Would you have such an assessment?
Len Jackson: I don’t think we are genuinely qualified to answer that question, Mr Ellis. The issue for us, of course, is whenever we become involved in a situation like this it is a tense time and relations will not be at their best. As far as community relations are concerned, with 43 police forces across the country, I think probably it is a question better put to ACPO and to the individual forces. It would be wrong for us to try to hazard a guess.
Q192 Chair: Let us be very clear, you are the Chairman of the IPCC and you are making it very clear that there will be an investigation into the communication issues between the police and the family?
Len Jackson: Yes.
Q193 Chair: You are about to finish your term of office, I understand. As this is your valedictory appearance before the Committee, is there any issue that you want to raise with this Committee concerning the operation of your organisation?
Len Jackson: Thank you, Chairman. That is very kind to give me the opportunity. There are two things I would say. First of all, with regard to this particular issue, relationships with families and with the community are always difficult, particularly in the early stages of an investigation such as this. As I said earlier on, if you look at social networking and everything else in the media that is going on at the moment, you will see that we understandably have critics on both sides of the fence, people who believe that we are too close to families and too close to communities in the work that we do and people who believe that we are too close to policing. If we don’t sit in the middle as a completely independent organisation in the search for the truth then we are not doing our job. That is what we seek to do and that means that quite often relationships, both with the police and indeed with communities and families, will be tense and difficult. It comes with the territory, as it were.
With regard to my own departure, the Home Secretary and Ministers are still considering my replacement and I have indicated-
Q194 Chair: How long have they been waiting to appoint your successor?
Len Jackson: It has taken a little while, it is fair to say. There were interviews earlier on in the summer and I gather that the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister are in discussions at the moment about who the final candidate might be. They have asked me to stay on for a little longer in order to facilitate a smooth-
Q195 Chair: How long is a little longer?
Len Jackson: At least until the end of October. We will have to see after that. I have indicated that I am prepared to do so.
Chair: Mr Jackson, thank you very much for coming in to see us today. Ms Glass, thank you for coming in to see us. We may write to you again with other information that the Committee requires.
Len Jackson: Thank you, Chairman.