Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160
TUESDAY 5 FEBRUARY 2002
STEVENS QPM, MR
160. To license, or ban?
(Sir John Stevens) Ban them.
161. And would you increase the age at which
a youth can use an air weapon, or possess an air weapon, I should
(Sir John Stevens) I think it is 16 at
the moment, is it not? I do not know. I would like to come back
to you on that one.
162. Is it 14 when accompanied? I do not know.
(Sir John Stevens) Can I come back to
you on that one, if I may, Chairman, by written answer.
163. Yes. Have you got any suggestions on air
(Sir John Stevens) Yes.
164. Which I am very interested in. I do not
know whether they are a big problem for you, but certainly they
are in other parts of the country?
(Sir John Stevens) No; they are a problem
165. It will be very helpful to have a note;
(Sir John Stevens) Yes.
166. Has any progress been made in finding a
non-fatal weapon for police to use when dealing with situations
(Sir John Stevens) We have been looking
at a variety of these, both by the use of electronic movement
and by the use of other means. What we want to be absolutely sure
of is that, by creating another weapon, we do not actually put
members of the public's lives in danger, and officers' lives in
danger. But there has to be, from our point of view, from the
Metropolitan Police point of view, a weapon that is capable of
taking on someone who may be mentally disturbed and is at a distance,
other than bringing up a firearm and using that firearm, which
will probably result in the loss of life.
(Mr Blair) If I may, Chairman, I think in your question
there may be just a slight confusion between two issues. We would
not be using those weapons in cases where there was a firearm
involved; you cannot expect officers to face a firearm, whether
it is imitation or not, obviously not knowing whether it is imitation
or not, with something like one of the these Tasar weapons, which,
by the time you have fired the Tasar weapon at him, if he has
got a real firearm, you are dead.
167. So if somebody, to take a topical example,
has a cigarette lighter which looks like a gun, he must still
expect to be faced by armed officers?
(Mr Blair) There is no other answer.
(Sir John Stevens) There is no other way of doing
(Mr Blair) These are really more around the person
with the sword or the machete, or the person who is just going
Chairman: Thank you, that is a very helpful
168. Could I ask you to make an informed guess,
only, on these two points. How many illicit firearms do you think,
real firearms, are circulating in London, would it be 500 or 5,000,
just a guess? Secondly, how many people do you think, who have
used firearms to kill, are still around in London, unarrested,
uncharged, a real guess; are we talking dozens or hundreds? Just
give me your best kind of guess on those two points?
(Sir John Stevens) I do not think I can
say, in terms of circulation, other than there is a large number.
We can come back to you on that.
I will speak to people who are working on Trident and have more
of an informed guess. I would not like to put a figure on it.
169. Thousands, probably?
(Sir John Stevens) We do not know. I
could not say.
170. Certainly a large number of killers?
(Sir John Stevens) A large number, in
terms of guns circulating. In terms of killers, we have been highly
successful, a 90 per cent murder clear-up rate, the highest ever,
last year; whether we achieve that this year is another matter.
But I would like to come back to you on that, if I may.
171. But dozens of killers? I just want to get
some idea of the scale; are we talking, in terms of these gangs,
dozens of people in London?
(Mr Blair) I do not think we are. Bearing
in mind that the murder rate in London, over the last few years,
has been 150 and 200 cases, I do not think we are looking for
dozens of killers.
(Sir John Stevens) And it has stayed static, it is
no increase; so there are not dozens of killers around, and if
they are about we want to arrest them and put them inside, which
is what we are doing.
(Mr Blair) But it would be worth noting that in 2001
the Met were called to 10,463 armed incidents.
172. What percentage of firearms that you pick
up in London would you say has leaked out of the sporting firearms
market, so shotguns, or .22s, or something like that?
(Sir John Stevens) Very few.
173. Can you put a percentage on it?
(Sir John Stevens) No; but very few.
174. Just on police complaints for a moment,
because, as you know, a large part of the Police Bill is taken
up with the new complaints procedure, are you happy with it?
(Sir John Stevens) Yes. We have been
pushing for a very long time for an independent kind of investigation
of complaints; because, however good we are at investigating ourselves,
however good we might be, the public perception is, the police
should not be investigating themselves. So I think this was a
move absolutely in the right direction, we welcome it, not before
175. So there are no amendments you would like
(Sir John Stevens) No; not where it stands
at the moment, Chairman.
Chairman: It is nice to have satisfied customers.
Finally, on resources, Mrs Prentice.
176. Back, I am afraid, to the bread and butter
issues. You have just done the Resource Allocation Formula, and
you have sent London MPs briefings on that. And, as you know,
I represent a constituency in a borough which we like to think
is, in fact, the safest borough in London. However, that is not
a reason for it to have fewer resources than some of the others.
I think that is down to the excellence of the borough commander
and his troops, as well as very good council and police community
relations. So do you think that the Resource Allocation Formula
is (a) a fair way of dividing the cake between the centre, i.e.
Scotland Yard, and the boroughs, and also actually between the
inner and outer London boroughs?
(Sir John Stevens) I will leave Ian to
(Mr Blair) I do not think I have ever had such a marvellous
postbag as I have had in relation to the Resource Allocation Formula.
(Sir John Stevens) And the Chairman of the Police
(Mr Blair) Yes, he had a few, too, I think. Let us
divide that, as you have done, quite properly, into two questions.
There is no formula for how many people there are at Scotland
Yard versus how many people there are in the boroughs. We have
raised the percentage on the boroughs slightly. But it has got
to be accepted that, if we compare, say, the Met with the NYPD,
it is not just the NYPD, it is also the FBI and part of the Secret
Service and part of the DEA as well; and so the people who arrested
the Real IRA up in north Yorkshire are Met officers, the people
who dealt with anti-terrorist arrests in Leicester are Met officers,
the people who dealt with the Dome robbery are Met officers, and
none of those are from boroughs. There is obviously a requirement,
in terms of economy of scale and expertise, for anti-terrorism,
for murder investigation, for child protection, etc., which is
at the Yard; we use our best judgement to decide on those numbers.
When you then move down to the borough versus borough argument,
we spent six months with some pretty expensive consultants, and
doing a lot of consultation around what were the indicators that
genuinely showed policing need between one borough and another,
and there was a whole set of ways in which those indicators were
developed. First of all, they had to be available, you had to
be able to have that information and it had to be able to be broken
down to borough level, if it was not breakable down to borough
level it was not usable. And I think we have got a pretty robust
formula now. When we went through the major consultation processes
that we did, particularly open meetings, where we invited representatives
of every London borough to them, some of whom brought along their
own statisticians, there was a general acceptance that when they
asked a question they got a genuine answer back as to, yes, we
did take that into account; yes, we do understand that research
from UMIST, or whatever else. And so I do think, yes, we are pretty
close to it. There will always be a need for what we described
as the Commissioner's judgement, but we have used that, at the
moment, in only two cases, one of which is relating to City Airport,
which is not yet a designated airport, so we are providing extra
officers for that, and hoping, in due course, to be able to reclaim
that from BAA; and the second is in relation to Lambeth, which
is the only place where the formula on what the needs should be
was completely out of kilter with demand. And one of the things
we have said to that borough is, "We will give you extra
officers, but we are very concerned about the nature of the partnership
here, and as to whether you are putting in sufficient resources
into youth provision." And we are going to examine that very
carefully, because, otherwise, we may be in the position that
31 other boroughs are subsidising Lambeth for not providing enough
youth social workers, for instance.
177. So conversation goes on between you, the
GLA and the boroughs individually on that type of issue?
(Mr Blair) In that particular one, it
was between ourselves and Lambeth.
178. So you would get the other boroughs to gang
up on Lambeth?
(Mr Blair) No; we did not get them to
gang up on Lambeth. I assure you, if you had been at the public
meeting, you would not have needed me to suggest that there was
a gang-up process, there was a lot of concern. And I think what
came out of it was a general consensus that we were about right.
179. Can I then, just finally, ask you, do you
think that, in general, now, the Met has got its finances in good
(Sir John Stevens) Yes, I do. We had
to make, reform and the finance side of things have been a major
project for all of us. We were a Government Department, as part
of the Met and the Home Office, up till about a year and a half
ago; we are now driving our way forward very quickly to becoming
more of a local authority, the type of organisation the rest of
us have been used to, outside London, anyway. We have made £160
million savings over the last three years, we have made £20
million a year previously, £20 million up to last year, we
are looking for another £60 million savings, in terms of
efficiency savings. We are looking to delegate authority financially,
personnel-wise, on Pathfinder boroughs, six of them, across London;
and what we are trying to do, and very quickly, is get proper
control of where we are spending the money and what results we
are getting from spending that money. In addition, we want to
make sure the borough commanders and departmental heads, whether
they be Keith's personnel, some of our specialist operations squads
have delegated authority, and therefore are accountable for the
money they spend; up to now, I am afraid, that has not been the
case, in the purest sense. So a lot more work needs to be done.
But I think there is a general acceptance, and the Police Authority
in particular, and the Mayor, who has set up a scrutiny, and this
is extremely helpful to us, are in acceptance of the fact that
we are moving towards what we should be moving towards. There
is still a way to go during the year, but I think we are going
to get there.
6 See Appendix, Ev 108-9. Back
See Appendix, Ev 108-9. Back
See Appendix, Ev 108. Back