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UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
To be published as HC 531- ii
House of commons
TAKEN BEFORE THE
HOME AFFAIRS Committee
TUESday 4 September 2012
SIR DENIS O’CONNOR
Evidence heard in Public Questions 288 - 337
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
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Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Tuesday 4 September 2012
Keith Vaz (Chair)
Mr James Clappison
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witness
Witness: Sir Denis O’Connor, HM Inspector of Constabulary, gave evidence.
Q288 Chair: Sir Denis, welcome to the Committee for what will be your last appearance as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector. You keep getting extended by the Government.
Sir Denis O’Connor: I live in hope, Chairman.
Chair: But we know that you are leaving office on 30 September to be succeeded by Mr Winsor. I start by reminding the Committee that we are looking now at Olympics security in particular, not the history of Sir Denis O’Connor, although we may have a couple of questions at the end about that.
Sir Denis, I am sure you have seen the reports of the Committee’s deliberations on this. The Committee was extremely concerned just before the recess, and we adjourned our inquiry-we will conclude it in September-in respect of Olympics security. But you became involved, as we understand it, as the Home Secretary told the House, much earlier on. The Committee’s understanding is that the Home Secretary commissioned you to do a report into Olympics security as early as September 2011. Why were you commissioned to do that report and what were your findings?
Sir Denis O’Connor: Chairman, we were first commissioned in 2006, in fact, so we have had an ongoing relationship with the Olympics in different forms, but by August 2011 the Home Secretary had tasked HMIC to provide some independent assurance-dynamic, intrusive independent assurance-over and above the existing assurance work on some key areas that presented risks. The first one of those, which we are focusing on today, is the one in relation to LOCOG and their responsibilities for venues.
Q289 Chair: LOCOG was ultimately the decision-maker in all this; they were in charge?
Sir Denis O’Connor: They were in charge of the planning for the venues. Clearly, because public money was involved, the Home Office also had a considerable interest in how the job was done. We were asked to look at LOCOG planning. Can I turn to that, Chairman?
Q290 Chair: Yes, please, if you could give us the main points as to what you found.
Sir Denis O’Connor: This was completed in September 2011. These reports are confidential or restricted but to give the Committee a flavour of what we found, we found that, in essence, the planning for manpower capability was not at the point where we expected it to be and there was quite a lot of work to be done around role definitions. The numbers needed for man guarding had been identified in broad terms, but the nature of the role and how it would all fit together had not been detailed.
Q291 Chair: So you had serious concerns, did you, about the numbers involved?
Sir Denis O’Connor: We had some concerns about the governance of it, some concerns about the procedures around it and some real concerns around the man guarding capability, whether it had been properly scoped and properly planned for. We made recommendations about that, which were then taken forward.
Q292 Chair: This was about 11 months before the Olympics were due to begin?
Sir Denis O’Connor: Yes.
Q293 Chair: Was it a shortage of numbers? You were well aware that G4S were the contractors, that LOCOG had given the contract to G4S in respect of this matter. Is that right?
Sir Denis O’Connor: It was more about the nature of the way the numbers had been arrived at in order to secure the sites, and whether enough work had been done at that point in order to establish how they would work, as opposed to how many numbers you had there. Do you see what I mean? This was a very big programme and normally you would work out the roles and the effect you wanted, and from that you would get the numbers, but broad numbers had been identified without all of those layers being done. We recommended that those layers of specificity would be done, which is quite prudent work to do in any really big spend, high risk programme.
Q294 Chair: Indeed. What about the quality of the training that was given to people? Were you satisfied with that or not?
Sir Denis O’Connor: We had not arrived at that point. Of course, of core importance to the training was the specification of the role and the effect you wanted them to deliver at whichever venue they were at. That would determine the training, not just the numbers, because otherwise you would have people turning up in busloads.
Q295 Chair: In terms of writing a report, you had access to LOCOG. You obviously saw them. You went to visit the site. Did you speak to G4S and the other contractors as well?
Sir Denis O’Connor: At this point we did not spend time with the contractors. We considered what information was available from them, but our remit was with LOCOG as a quasi public sector-private sector body, rather than G4S or the other contractors. When we revisited we did.
Q296 Chair: So you made recommendations?
Sir Denis O’Connor: We made recommendations.
Q297 Chair: To whom?
Sir Denis O’Connor: We made those recommendations to the senior responsible officer.
Q298 Chair: Who is that?
Sir Denis O’Connor: That is Charles Farr. There is a whole layered set of people all the way up to the top.
Q299 Chair: How many layers were there that you had to deal with?
Sir Denis O'Connor: We are not that bureaucratic. Mercifully, the Home Secretary and Charles Farr in this instance.
Q300 Chair: Charles Farr was your main point of contact. You made recommendations to him in August?
Sir Denis O'Connor: To him, yes.
Q301 Chair: Then what happened?
Sir Denis O'Connor: We made the recommendations in September, work was done and by agreement we revisited in February. I can switch to February now if that is helpful to you.
Chair: Please, that is very helpful.
Sir Denis O'Connor: So February 2012-
Q302 Chair: This is about five months before the Olympics?
Sir Denis O'Connor: Yes. This has to be seen in the context of a number of other areas we are looking at in this sort of quite intrusive, pointed way-is this going to work? So in February we found that they did have a plan, and they were making progress with the plan, which was reassuring.
Q303 Chair: What was the plan? More numbers?
Sir Denis O'Connor: This was a plan that had detail for the various venues, the roles and what people would do, and they had refined the numbers around that. In that sense, they were on track with their plan. However, it was not unconditional because we could see that there were a number of dependencies-we did one reality check with G4 and others-that all needed to come together for the plan to land. For example, Chairman, there were some contingency plans that had still not been settled. There were some SOPs, how you do stuff, that still had to be settled. So we recommended it was-
Q304 Alun Michael: What does SOP stand for?
Sir Denis O'Connor: Standard operating procedures. Forgive me, Mr Michael, you are quite right to pull me up. We recommended that these things were revisited, weekly if necessary, in order to stay on the case, as it were.
Q305 Mark Reckless: Sir Denis, were your reports part of a standard audit and assurance framework or were they commissioned in response to specific concerns?
Sir Denis O'Connor: They were commissioned in response to specific concerns, which had arisen because of all the other assurance work and the speed with which it was progressing. Initially five key issues were identified for us to look at. This was but one of them. Then we went at those issues with a very strong multidisciplinary team. We did it rapidly and the reports were delivered within three or four weeks tops in each case, which gave people time to react and strengthen the game.
Q306 Mark Reckless: Who was responsible for the standard assurance work and the framework for that?
Sir Denis O'Connor: The overall responsibility was the Olympic Security Directorate for the assurance strategy plan and the way forward. A large amount of that work was done over a period of more than two years. But it did rely in part on self-reporting, it did rely upon some gentle checking and interdepartmental work. The point with this one was it was independent of any departmental ties, so it could look at the borders or it could look at LOCOG or any issue selected and quickly and dynamically say, "This looks on track" or not.
Q307 Mark Reckless: But you were pushed towards the Commission with a remit to look at specific concerns. Did any of your conclusions, would you say, go beyond that remit and the specific concerns you had been asked to address?
Sir Denis O'Connor: I think, broadly speaking, our conclusions or our recommendations were on the case. They were on the issue to hand. Some of the conclusions were less palatable than others but this is not a popular process and it is inevitable when you do this that there will be some tensions.
Q308 Mark Reckless: With hindsight, in the work that you did on your reports, do you think any opportunities may have been missed that could have exposed earlier the problems with the G4S contract and arrangements?
Sir Denis O'Connor: I think one has to see this in the context of everything else that is going on around the Games. There may be an argument that it should have been more developed at the point we looked at it, but the point of doing this kind of intrusive work was to flush those issues out. There is a kind of a building sequence to things, you know, where you try to get a broad operating plan, you try to get all of the stakeholders working on things, and you agree a way of doing business. With these programmes, whether in Sydney or anywhere else, you start getting into the more detailed, "How is this bit done?" closer to the end. That is accepted. It is then a marginal judgment about a bit earlier or a little bit later. This, in our view, was late enough to be looking at it. We thought the work needed to be done and should be done.
Q309 Nicola Blackwood: I note that both reports that HMIC published, in September 2011 and February 2012, recommended close monitoring. What sort of close monitoring was recommended or what did you envisage that close monitoring to be and did it materialise?
Chair: And, indeed, who was supposed to do the monitoring?
Sir Denis O'Connor: We recommended that LOCOG monitor, for example, the G4S delivery chain, effectively, but the real reference point for us on this was the Olympic Security Directorate and the Olympic Security Board, which Charles Farr chairs, which has all the players from the other departments and other sectors, and that they are assured that the monitoring is going on. One should understand with these things that this is the norm in trying to produce a security effect. You flush issues out but then you stay on top of them until the colour changes from amber to green and you are convinced, and that is the process.
Q310 Nicola Blackwood: But did you in your September report lay out any specifics as to what you thought the close monitoring should be or what you thought should be monitored?
Sir Denis O'Connor: We set out recommendations that covered-I can give you slightly more details if you want-governance and process, the way they put policy and procedures together and the whole manpower capability process. The essence of it was, "This plan is not detailed enough at this point. You have had a lot of other things to do. It is now time to have a detailed plan so that the numbers make sense, the roles are clear, and you can recruit and train people with an end in mind".
Q311 Nicola Blackwood: Were you satisfied when you came back the second time that all of that had been implemented and was achieving the outcome that you had intended in the first report?
Sir Denis O'Connor: We were satisfied that there was now a plan but-back to the nature of this business-we identified residual risks. We identified man guarding, given the nature of what was intended with the mix of people, late recruitment, high attrition rates that were known about; it was known to be a risk area, hence the close monitoring of this to make sure that the numbers they were responsible for would be covered. There was always a contingency that if they were not covered the public sector would cover it.
Q312 Nicola Blackwood: It does not seem like it was being closely monitored, because it took right up until the very last minute for Charles Farr to ask the team at G4S directly whether they could provide security staff on the ground and for them to admit that they could not. That does not sound like close monitoring to me. It sounds like not paying attention, but perhaps I am missing something.
Sir Denis O'Connor: Really? I think what we have to understand is that there is a very big programme here and this is-
Chair: We know all about the programme; we know about the Olympics. Could you answer the specific point from Nicola Blackwood about close monitoring?
Sir Denis O'Connor: I will. They established, and it worked in real detail from April, an Olympic Security Board, which Charles Farr chaired, which every two weeks was on the case on these issues. They received a whole series of plans, presentations, assessments of risk, through LOCOG and through the suppliers, which led them to believe that they had a plan to secure people, to know that because there were students and because of other things there would be quite a high dropout rate, so it would all go towards the wire, but there would be enough of it in order to cover off the requirement. The attrition rate can be quite high with temporary staff-50% or more.
Chair: Yes, we understand all that.
Sir Denis O'Connor: They had all of these documents, they had these presentations, but it gradually became clear, I think, particularly during June and July, one, that the numbers seemed to be faltering and, two, that G4S had a problem with not just the recruitment but the scheduling of things.
Q313 Chair: Sir Denis, we understand that. We will come on to further questions, but Nicola Blackwood is asking for a definition of close monitoring. What did you mean by that?
Sir Denis O'Connor: I meant, in relation to February, weekly.
Sir Denis O'Connor: Yes, a weekly process by LOCOG whether people were on the case and delivering and, if they weren’t, was there an explanation that sounded convincing.
Chair: Thank you.
Q314 Lorraine Fullbrook: Sir Denis, I would like to talk about G4S a bit more. As you know, G4S had renegotiated a contract in December 2011 to increase the resources for the Olympics from 2,800 to 10,400. When we had G4S in front of the Committee three weeks before the Olympics started they told us that the recruitment process was mainly through Jobcentre Plus, but they told us they did not have a plan for an attrition rate. They didn’t have any sort of monitoring for people who were dropping out or getting jobs. In your report in February, surely there must have been some sort of red light going off that G4S were not delivering, because they told us they were not actually recruiting at that point.
Sir Denis O'Connor: Our February report was about whether LOCOG-not G4S-had emerging or viable plans for each venue with the roles and the numbers. They were on track with that. Our reservations were about the suppliers and their ability to do it. One of those was G4S, who indicated to us that they did not need to do it because our powers with private companies were a separate debate, but they were encountering some issues around the recruitment and training of people, which was part of the reason why we said close monitoring. What happened subsequently is that there was an emerging clear picture about the likely attrition rate and that was identified.
Q315 Lorraine Fullbrook: It was identified in February?
Sir Denis O'Connor: It was identified through the process of the Olympic Security Board, the thing that your colleague asked about.
Sir Denis O'Connor: This came about during May, June and July. Because of the nature of the work force, potential attrition rates were considered and finally in July it was clear that the attrition rate against the number they had in the bag was not sufficient and it was at that point that the game stopped in that sense.
Q316 Lorraine Fullbrook: But they never had a plan for an attrition rate. G4S did not have a plan ever for an attrition rate for people getting jobs and moving on. They never had a plan.
Sir Denis O'Connor: I can’t comment on what G4S had, but I do know that the Olympic Security Board were on the case about attrition and that was the reason in the end, I think it was on 11 July, that they said, "This will not add up".
Q317 Chair: But, Sir Denis, you didn’t sit on the Olympic Security Board.
Sir Denis O'Connor: I didn’t attend the Olympic Security Board but one of my colleagues, Stephen Otter, did and because of this issue-
Chair: On a regular weekly basis?
Sir Denis O'Connor: On this bi-weekly basis. He attended a lot of those in fulfilment of our commitment about monitoring and staying on the case, making sure these things were pursued.
Q318 Bridget Phillipson: Sir Denis, many armed forces personnel had their leave cancelled because of G4S’s failure to provide the necessary numbers. If this were to happen with police officers, what kind of compensation would you expect police officers to be offered in similar circumstances?
Sir Denis O'Connor: There are provisions for compensation and I could send the Committee a note on that. For quite a lot of people their leave was cancelled a long time before this-a year out. The fact is though, because of G4S and other reasons, quite a lot of supplementary shifts were worked, several thousands, in fact, by police officers. Finding out the detail about their particular compensation would be quite a job, but I can tell you that when their rest had not been cancelled in advance they would be required to be there. They had to supplement the private sector, and there were thousands of shifts when they had to do that. Then, if it affected their rest days, there was a compensation process of one and a half times.
Q319 Bridget Phillipson: My understanding was that G4S agreed that they would reimburse the cost of additional policing and the armed forces personnel. The concern I had at the time was that while that was to be welcomed, it was important that individual forces were reimbursed for that rather than the money just going into a big pot in the Home Office. Are you aware of what the process will be for individual forces who carried additional costs to be reimbursed directly for that?
Sir Denis O'Connor: Indeed. I have had a look at that, and they have a log of all the additional support they put in. That has been costed and each force will be able to claim it, and G4S have said that they will stand the cost. It has all been logged.
Q320 Alun Michael: I am not quite clear from your earlier reply what the compensation amounts to. If police officers had their leave cancelled before the requirement for them to fill in the gaps left by G4S, is the cost nevertheless falling to G4S? These would be officers who if their leave was cancelled would be available for other duties. If they are not available for other duties and are being transferred to cover for the failure of the company that is nevertheless a diversion exercise. It is not just the additional time, is it, it is the diverted time that the company will be paying for?
Sir Denis O'Connor: The opportunity costs of covering other policing?
Alun Michael: Yes.
Sir Denis O'Connor: The arrangement was that almost a year out in some forces-there were slightly different arrangements-they gave notice that leave was cancelled during the summer for these people, with some exceptions, some rest day exceptions. Where they had to support the gap left by this contract the arrangement was, to avoid denuding policing in Kent or Wales or whatever, that people would be brought in from their rest days. For that they would be compensated at time and a half-this is my understanding of it and we can get you the detail-and G4S would ultimately pay the cost.
Q321 Alun Michael: But the compensation from G4S is for the overtime, the additional payments, the additional compensation that you referred to, but also surely for those who are deployed, who are going to be working anyway but are shifted to a deployment that fills the gap. Those costs will surely be met by the company, won’t they?
Sir Denis O'Connor: I may not be answering this well, Chairman. Basically G4S will be paying for the gap that is covered by officers working their rest days.
Q322 Alun Michael: Yes, but not just the rest days but for where they are brought in from other duties?
Sir Denis O'Connor: They tried to avoid denuding other duties but where other duties are not covered they will pay for that, but quite a lot of it is through people’s rest days.
Alun Michael: Sure, understood.
Q323 Chair: I have just been reminded that the tube drivers got £500 for each scheduled shift. You do not imagine police officers will be getting anything like that, or the military?
Sir Denis O'Connor: I don’t have that knowledge.
Q324 Bridget Phillipson: Do you know the point we are at with police forces submitting those returns to G4S and when payments can be expected to be made?
Sir Denis O'Connor: I think the way that it will work is it will come into the Olympic Security Directorate, it will be put together, it will be cross-checked with PNIC, the Police National Information Centre, which are pulling in the officers to cover these shifts, and the accounts will be done and given to G4S. That will be the process, and it is in hand.
Bridget Phillipson: Sooner rather than later, hopefully.
Sir Denis O'Connor: Now I am stepping outside my knowledge. We live in hope that it will be soon.
Q325 Chair: If we can conclude on the Olympics, Mr Winnick will take us beyond that to the further implications. Can I just conclude on this. You emerge as something of a hero out of all this. You brought a report out last September; concerns were expressed; you made recommendations; you got another report in February; you were concerned; you assumed there was going to be a plan and you asked for close monitoring on a weekly basis. That is what you said in response to Nicola Blackwood. So you must have been astonished at the end when the Home Secretary got up in the House of Commons-someone you meet on a daily or weekly basis-to say, "We are going to have to send in the troops". It must have come as a complete shock to you that people were not doing what you asked them to do Or did you expect it?
Sir Denis O'Connor: I find that happens from time to time, Chairman, but the fact of the matter is that it did not come as a shock because we were involved in the Olympic Security Board through Stephen Otter-
Chair: You knew it was going to happen?
Sir Denis O'Connor: We knew there were contingencies, as I described, in relation to military and the police. There was always contingency in hand. It was a question of how many people this sector could deliver.
Chair: Thank you. On that sector, David Winnick.
Q326 Mr Winnick: Who knows, Sir Denis, if we were in the position to recommend someone for a peerage it may well be you.
Sir Denis O'Connor: I am out of my depth completely now.
Q327 Mr Winnick: Sir Denis, coming back to the issues involved, as you know it is the intention for a number of roles carried out by the police for a very long time indeed to be taken over by the private sector. Do you feel there are any implications arising from the very public failure of G4S over the Olympics?
Sir Denis O'Connor: I think there are some implications. I think there always have been and always will be implications about the private sector and the public sector when they come together, because it is spending public money and we want to ensure it is done within a strong, clear framework so we know what value we are getting. Bluntly, I think this is a bit of a one-off by any standards-this whole operation. It is a bit unusual, but it has raised questions about how you deal with complex issues, how risk is handled by the private sector and the public sector, and the resilience, in this particular case, of the G4S offer to Government.
Q328 Mr Winnick: Without in any way putting words into your mouth-heaven forbid-do you have reservations about roles carried out by the police being transferred to the private sector, including, apparently, suspects being asked questions, obviously not being charged as such, but investigations that many would consider to be pretty frontline activities?
Sir Denis O'Connor: They would, but I have to tell you that some of that is already going on. What I would say is that I think there has been quite a vigorous debate about the private sector and the public sector and obviously the G4S thing has accelerated it. In our report on the comprehensive spending review we suggested three things and we have followed up on them. The three things were that we need to have clarity about the public realm and the private sector-who is responsible for what. I think that is doable. It is already there in some respects. I think we need to know what potential real value there is over time, not just the short term, for the taxpayer and for the community charge payer in Kent and so on. We need to know that. The third thing is how you have contracts that are flexible that do not back you into corners.
In order to deal with those issues, the public realm and all those other issues, we are going some fieldwork with the National Audit Office at the moment to look across the public sector and then look across deals with the police so that some of that material is available, so there is a framework we can all bring to bear. This may not be fashionable, but in some respects there are some things the private sector do well and there are some things the public sector do well. Once we accept that, it is a question of looking at it clinically and coldly- intrusively-and getting to the bottom of what is on offer for us as taxpayers.
Q329 Mr Winnick: With your long experience, would it be your view that there should be caution in transferring the responsibility, bearing in mind what you have just said-that the private sector has a role to play? But would you say that in extending it very significantly there should be some caution before it is undertaken too far?
Sir Denis O'Connor: I think we should be prudent, but I have to say that on the other side of this we have done some work, which at some stage will be published, called Finding Time for Crime that says that the current support around constables sometimes looks a bit more like Amstrad than Apple. If you look at the technology that is to hand, if you look at the intelligence, how near real time it is, the logistics, some of that could be improved. I think that is the challenge. Can that be done in a way that reassures us all about ultimately what the public sector are responsible for and what these guys are going to deliver better, hopefully for less money?
Q330 Mr Clappison: I agree there is a role for the private sector, but can I press you a little bit more on your answers to Mr Winnick. If you took before and after your experience with G4S and the Olympics, how has that changed your view of the role of the private sector? Was there a before and an after or did you-
Sir Denis O'Connor: I am inclined to say I didn’t have a love affair, as it were. I kind of realised that they were part of a much bigger arrangement. Their particular part of it was just in time and late in the day so it was high risk. It is not how you would go about contracting with the private sector, generally speaking, for important police functions. Going back to where I started, it was a unique event and so it had characteristics that you would not tolerate around a control room or around forensics or custody issues or whatever. You would do it on a very deliberative, "Let’s see the facts. Let’s look at the contract. Who’s doing what? Will this be tolerable to you and the public?" You would go through that process, whereas this was compressed by the nature of what was happening.
Q331 Mr Clappison: You say in your evidence to us that you have taken into account that there was a high attrition rate among the G4 people they were recruiting and that perhaps puts a complexion on their motivation, although, to be fair, there were not a lot of complaints about the G4 security staff during the Olympics. But can you understand the feeling that seemed to come from members of the public and spectators at the Olympics that they appreciated dealing with somebody in a uniform who is a member of the armed forces or the police service and that factor in itself contributed to their enjoyment of the Games?
Sir Denis O'Connor: I can, and I have personally had feedback about both the involvement of the troops and the officers who filled in the gaps. It is the non-rehearsed part of the whole ceremony but perhaps on the other side of it we will get to celebrate that.
Q332 Dr Huppert: Sir Denis, you will be aware, presumably, that Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire police authorities are currently still looking to progress with outsourcing to G4S, which others have expressed concern about. It seems a lot of the problem sits around the competence of the public sector to get procurement right, but there are also questions about whether G4S can deliver on what they have done as well. There are two issues there. What words of advice and wisdom would you give those police authorities in terms of how to make sure that they don’t fall into the same problems, given that they will not have the police and army to back them up if anything goes wrong?
Sir Denis O'Connor: I am tempted to say that the work we are doing with the National Audit Office will help police authorities, it will help police commissioners-police and crime commissioners, Mr Michael-to take a dispassionate view of what is on offer. In the meantime, I do not think it is a bad point to have absolute clarity about the public and private realm responsibilities and what that means to the public. Will they be convinced? How flexible is this contract? You are absolutely right, contracting skills within the public sector and within the police is a problem issue and that gap will have to be covered off or we will not get good procurements. Then there is the issue of making visible the benefits and the money, the cost over time and how this offer differs from that. I would like to think that in what those three forces are doing there is enough competition in the framework they are looking at for G4S, who do a lot of other things without all of this fuss, and for that to be compared with what others are doing so that they can take a cool view of those three key issues. There are others but that is where I would start.
Q333 Dr Huppert: Thank you. If I could move us on, because we are running a bit short of time, to London and your Policing in austerity: One year on report. You raised a number of concerns-that the Metropolitan Police Service’s residual funding gap was £233 million of the £302 million and the force does not have a developed plan to resolve this, and various other concerns. You said, "There is a most significant level of both financial and performance issues". Have you seen any evidence that the Met has now come up with plans to cover that £233 million gap?
Sir Denis O'Connor: My colleague, Stephen Otter, has been on the case and he has seen evidence in the shape of a developing plan by the Commissioner and a developing direction and resourcing envelope by the Deputy Mayor, Stephen Greenhalgh-
Chair: Who is our next witness.
Sir Denis O'Connor: Indeed. To give credit to Stephen, he has made a commitment within the plan he is developing to cover and deal with those costs, which he said to us some time ago when we were doing the support he would do, and he is delivering on that. That is a work in progress but it has a number of dependencies before it lands. As a plan for 2013 to 2016 it will go through the GLA process and others and eventually there will be something there with numbers and money and consequences on it. But they are en route to doing that, as they said they would.
Q334 Dr Huppert: Your report listed the Met Police, along with another force, as being unable to provide frontline data. Is that still the case or have they managed to provide that data?
Sir Denis O'Connor: Getting absolute, strong, clear frontline data, whether it is about crime or police numbers, is an ongoing quest. They had particular issues because they had not projected the frontline effect beyond this financial year and we were keen to see what they had in mind by the end of the comprehensive spending review 2014-15; what is the end game on the front end of the business, because the public tend to want to know that. They had not done the calculation. That was part of the reason why we were saying we would like to see something more convincing in this report.
Q335 Dr Huppert: Is it not rather surprising they had not made that sort of projection? That would be totally standard in every other piece of local government or police authority I have ever seen.
Sir Denis O'Connor: Taken by itself, absolutely, but you do have to see that quite a lot of other things were going on. The top team in the Met has changed, as you have witnessed, over the last year, the Deputy Mayor has changed-a significant change in direction and control-and they have had the Olympics and other things to deal with. So, the projection and the clarity and the direction and, frankly, the political buy-in, all of those things have taken time to come together. We raised concerns about it but we thought they had prospects and they certainly are working on them as far as we can see.
Q336 Chair: Sir Denis, this is definitely your last appearance before the Select Committee, as I said in July of this year. Mr Winnick has already offered you a peerage. There is a reshuffle going on in Downing Street. Before you go-
Mr Winnick: I hope that has not destroyed your chances.
Sir Denis O'Connor: If I may, Chairman, hubris is the moment before you crash and burn. All we have done is our job and we were a pretty small cog in this machine.
Q337 Chair: Indeed, but before you go what would your advice be to your successor in terms of the revolution of policing that is going on? The Government has a very ambitious and exciting agenda as far as policing is concerned. Certainly in all the years that I have been in this House I have not seen a Government change the agenda as rapidly as this one has. What is your advice to Tom Winsor, and what is your advice to the police service, which you are leaving after many years of distinguished service?
Sir Denis O'Connor: My advice to the police service is that if you have incremental planning you will end up in a place you don’t want to be and it will end up being very reactive. British policing was founded on the idea of preventive policing. It is by far the best direction. Check everything you are doing-whether you are doing it in the private sector or taking money out. Does that still allow us to be preventive, to get ahead of things as opposed to just making do? That is for the police service, and I will say more about that in another place at another time. British policing won its world acknowledgement because it was deliberately preventive, and it has slipped away from that at times. We should stay on the case.
I would be very reluctant to suggest to Mr Winsor how he does business. He will have to find his own way with you and others. But he does come with some advantages-as a contract lawyer for example-in relation to some of the issues we have just been talking about, and if he can’t spot a bad contract we have a problem because he knows a lot about that. I think the thing is, Chairman, that the world is moving very swiftly and I think he, like you, is going to have to show a lot of flexibility, as are the police service, but we should look at what everybody’s just done for the Olympics. We had an awful lot of grumpiness going into it but the UK has done a damn good job. I know it is perhaps a little too soon to say it but they have done a damn good job that has been admired worldwide, so we should have hope in our hearts.
Chair: Indeed. Sir Denis, on behalf of the Committee, may I say that you have been an outstanding Chief Inspector. I thank you for all the work you have done and we all wish you all the very best for the future.
Sir Denis O'Connor: Chairman, thank you. I go into the blaze of obscurity but I would want to say not a hero, definitely not. That is not me. Thank you.
Chair: Thank you very much.