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UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
To be published as HC 231-i
House of commons
TAKEN BEFORE THE
Home Affairs Committee
Tuesday 4 June 2013
Evidence heard in Public Questions 1 - 38
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
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Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Tuesday 4 June 2013
Keith Vaz (Chair)
Mr James Clappison
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witness
Witness: Cressida Dick, Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police, gave evidence.
Q1 Chair: Our witness is the Assistant Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick. Thank you very much for coming, Assistant Commissioner. The Committee is due to start a major inquiry into international terrorism and crime. As a prelude to the inquiry we have asked you to come before us today to give us some factual information concerning the recent events in Woolwich. Many members of the Committee were present in the House yesterday when the Prime Minister made a statement to the House saying that you are responsible for the operational matters, so that is why you are here. Mr Speaker also made a statement to the House about the sub judice rule, which I will repeat today for the members and others present. Mr Speaker said this: "it is clear that the public interest means that this is a matter that Parliament must discuss, and in respect of which I should indeed exercise my discretion". I have already reminded members in private session that they and I will frame our remarks accordingly.
Assistant Commissioner, the whole country was deeply shocked by the events that occurred in Woolwich in the last few weeks. Could I pass on to you, and I would be grateful if you would pass on to the police officers and others involved, our thanks and gratitude for their immense bravery and courage, and the dedication of those officers in dealing with what was a very, very serious incident? I would be most grateful if you would pass that on from the Committee as a whole.
Cressida Dick: Thank you, Sir. I will.
Q2 Chair: When were you first involved in the incident?
Cressida Dick: I was informed a matter of a few minutes later, and I subsequently became the lead for the Metropolitan Police in relation to the total response to this incident and indeed, because of my national role, the national lead.
Q3 Chair: Was it clear right at the start that this was a possible act of terrorism, as opposed to just a murder-a barbaric murder, as we have heard? When did you discover that it was an act of terrorism?
Cressida Dick: It was clearly an act of appalling murder of a young man. If you would indulge me just for one second, I want to say that the thoughts of the whole police service have been and are with Lee’s family, his loved ones and his colleagues, and we have been very struck by the dignity and courage that they have shown since he was killed.
Chair: Of course, and the Committee associates itself completely with the comments that you have made concerning the family of Drummer Lee Rigby.
Cressida Dick: Thank you. There were a number of indications, some of which are probably not appropriate for me to talk about, at a fairly early stage that this could be a terrorist incident. As I think you are aware, the Counter Terrorism Command quickly took command of the investigation, and we have treated it as a terrorist incident since that time.
Q4 Chair: Could you give us some factual information about how many officers have been involved, how many are still involved, and how many people have been arrested? We know that two have been charged, but are there some factual points that you can give this Committee?
Cressida Dick: I can. At its peak, I believe we had about 600 officers employed directly on the investigation. There is another response in our communities, but 600 directly on the investigation. This includes nearly 100 from our national counter-terrorist network. As I think you are aware, we have arrested a total of 12 people, and two men have been charged, as you said, and subsequently remanded in custody. We have searched 17 addresses and six cars. We have seized 2,649 exhibits as of yesterday. We have had a fantastic response from the public, and we have taken statements from 60 members of the public who are significant witnesses for us. We have also, of course, gathered in a very large amount of CCTV from the local area and elsewhere, and we have an enormous of digital data and forensic material to be examined.
Q5 Chair: Of the 12 people who have been arrested, two have been charged. Is it right that eight have been bailed and two have been released without bail?
Cressida Dick: Yes, that is correct.
Q6 Chair: So, the two who have been released without bail presumably are not people whom you wish to interview again at the moment. How did they get caught up in this?
Cressida Dick: They are released; no further action.
Q7 Chair: Regarding the public’s response and the police response, which we both agree has been magnificent in providing information, and drawing a parallel with Boston and what happened there, there was a media storm about what occurred; there is no doubt about it. It was obviously something that everyone in the country, and indeed the world, knew about. Do you think that the response of the police was right, in terms of the information that was given, not just in respect of this particular incident but incidents of this kind? I am talking about the naming of suspects. Do you think that should have been done perhaps sooner, or was it the right time to have named them?
Cressida Dick: On balance, I think we got our information out in a timely manner, and effectively. Our primary consideration is public safety. Throughout our whole response we have to try to ensure that the public are kept safe. We also have to keep people informed, and of course part of keeping people safe is keeping them informed. We also have to be very careful not to compromise any future trial-and as you know the Attorney General has made some strong comments about that-and our covert investigations. On the one hand I am very proud that I do not think there has been any leaking from our investigation at all, and we have kept the wider public safe. On the other hand, the Commissioner was speaking that evening, and we subsequently had an assistant commissioner the next day, another assistant commissioner the next day, other police officers in the interim, and my deputy talking about the investigation on the Monday. More importantly perhaps in some ways, we communicate through our officers on the streets. As you are aware, we had a huge number of officers engaging through a variety of different methods-social media, telephone calls and face to face-with people who might feel vulnerable and people who needed protection, because clearly, as well as the investigation, we have to ensure that people are protected from potential copycats.
Q8 Chair: Are you happy with the way in which the suspects were named?
Cressida Dick: I am happy with our police information-giving. I am sure there may be some things we could learn from Boston, and indeed our colleagues from Boston are over with us next week, and they will want to know what we did. There is always something we can learn.
Q9 Chair: Indeed. Finally from me, on the issue of the security services-we do not want to know about private conversations or private information-is this a Metropolitan Police investigation, with you at its head as the head of counter-terrorism, or is it an investigation that is being jointly conducted with the security services, or has their role in a sense come to an end, and this is a fully fledged Met Police investigation into terrorism as opposed to a murder?
Cressida Dick: This is a police investigation into what happened on that day, police-led and very strongly supported by the security services and other agencies, as you would expect.
Chair: But it is your investigation?
Cressida Dick: It is our investigation.
Q10 Chair: And you will go to other agencies that might be able to assist you?
Cressida Dick: Absolutely. Clearly we need, and have needed from the first moment, to ensure that we identify those responsible for the murder and bring them to justice, but we also wanted, and want, to identify anyone else who might seek to commit a copycat or revenge attack. We have to ensure also that we have identified whether there was anybody else involved in the planning or at the scene of the attack. I can say we have established that at the moment we have no evidence that there was anybody else present at the scene of the attack.
Q11 Chair: In terms of lessons to be learned, one of the key lessons that we are all learning when we read our newspapers and watch television is the number of British citizens who may be going abroad to get involved in activities of an unsavoury nature. They may go abroad to join terrorist organisations, to support various causes, be it in Kenya, Somalia, Syria or Iraq. Do you think that you in the Met, and perhaps you as head of counter-terrorism, have sufficient information from our posts abroad about those who may be up to no good in those countries, who eventually find their way back into this country? This may or may not be relevant to this particular case. I am not asking whether your investigation takes you to Nairobi in this case, but generally speaking, if we are learning immediate lessons, how would you be told that somebody has been, for example, arrested in Iraq and involved in unsavoury activities and then returned to this country, if they are a British citizen? Is there a mechanism?
Cressida Dick: I will talk generally.
Chair: Yes, please.
Cressida Dick: Of course it depends on where, and what circumstances we are talking about, but the point you make is that it is extraordinarily important that we are able to link quite literally the person on the street anywhere in London with some very far-flung place, and we do that through our network, a police network that is national and international, through our colleagues at the Foreign Office and supported by our agency colleagues. You have read about Syria. We are frequently informed about people from the UK who have travelled to, and appear to be engaged in fighting in, Syria. I am sure that, as you say, one of the areas that everybody will want to look at is how we get the intelligence back, and then what response we make if we are aware of that sort of thing, but I must stress that there are a lot of different circumstances here.
Q12 Chair: Of course, but given that this is in the public domain and we want to learn lessons immediately, because the person planning the next terrorist attack is probably doing it at this moment somewhere in the country, are you satisfied that if a British citizen in Iraq has been arrested by the Iraqi regime for getting involved in paramilitary or military activity and they are deported back to the UK, the Metropolitan Police would know about it?
Cressida Dick: If somebody was arrested in the precise circumstances you have described and was deported back to the UK, I am confident that the Met would know about it, but I must say that depending on the environment one might not know that someone has even been arrested. It depends entirely on the circumstances.
Chair: It depends whether that information is with you. Thank you very much for that.
Q13 Mr Winnick: The Chair mentioned the bravery of the police officers, which of course we all endorse. I am sure you would agree about the bravery of the civilian women on the spot, and one in particular, who faced the alleged offender. I think the whole country was full of admiration for what was done.
Cressida Dick: Extraordinary courage was shown that afternoon.
Q14 Mr Winnick: All organisations would say that they would like more funding-that is perfectly clear-but as far as the Metropolitan Police is concerned, do you feel that there are sufficient resources, first and foremost obviously financial, to combat the ongoing threat of terrorism?
Cressida Dick: I think it is important to note that under this Government, and indeed the last Government, there has been a very heavy investment in countering terrorism within policing and of course beyond. I have previously gone on record to say that we believe we have a formidable capability, and that formidable capability, together with our security service colleagues, has stopped a large number of lethal, murderous attacks in this country. I feel that immediately after an incident with the horrible impact and magnitude of this one is not the time immediately to say, "We need more resources." I think we should look soberly at what needs to change, and then see if more resources are needed. I am very conscious that counter-terrorist policing is well resourced.
On the other hand, as I and many other people, including the Home Secretary, have said, the threat is very real. The country remains at the threat level of "substantial", and we have to deal with a threat that comes from a very wide range of sources, some of which are external-the Chair has mentioned some countries where people might pose a threat to the UK or UK interests. Sadly, we have a long history of what you might call home-grown terrorists. An attack is a strong possibility. We have a big, changing, morphing threat to deal with, but I am not going to say at this time that the answer is more resources for the police.
Q15 Mr Winnick: On the profile of the Met, one of your colleagues said-it received a good deal of prominence-that much more needs to be done for the Met to reflect the sort of place that London is now, not only because it is right, he argued, but because it is essential in the fight against terrorism. The Met has the highest number of non-white police personnel. I believe it is somewhere in the region of just over 10%.
Cressida Dick: Exactly.
Mr Winnick: Would I be right in coming to the conclusion that the most senior people, including you, take the position that much more needs to be done to increase the numbers, and that 10% in a city like London is unsatisfactory, and certainly unrepresentative?
Cressida Dick: In relation to countering terrorism, we broadly reflect the Met, and, as you said, in relation to black and minority ethnic officers-as opposed to our other staff, where the percentages are much higher-we are about 10%. That is well off the level for London, and although we do have a formidable capability and some very skilled people doing great work, I believe that in countering terrorism and in broader policing we would be even more effective, of course, if we were more reflective of London. We are about to launch a recruiting exercise where a very high priority for us is to increase the representation of black and minority ethnic colleagues in our service. I do believe it will help.
Q16 Mr Winnick: One last question-and I am one of the Members who keep to that "last"-on the ongoing terrorist threat: do you take the view with your colleagues that this is going to be a long-term matter, and that it is not going to be resolved? Properly, this is connected with international terrorism generally; it is not unique to Britain. Do you think this will continue for some years to come?
Cressida Dick: I regret to say that I absolutely do. I think we are in for a long haul.
Q17 Chair: On Mr Winnick’s question about diversity-and of course senior officers have said this to this Committee over all the years that I have chaired it-Peter Fahy went further this morning when he said that if the make-up of the police changed, it would help the police in dealing with counter-terrorism. He said that the police are not as effective as they could be in countering terrorism because of the ethnic make-up. Do you agree with Peter Fahy that you would be much better at dealing with these issues if you had more Muslim and black people in the police force? He has gone further than others.
Cressida Dick: He is one of my vice-chairs. I speak to him every other day. We see these issues very similarly, and I think I have said pretty much the same thing. I think we have a very effective service, and some incredibly skilled people-they do great work-but we would be even more effective if we had more people with certain language skills and were more reflective of London’s communities, yes.
Q18 Michael Ellis: Assistant Commissioner, I would like to join those who have already commended the exemplary bravery and conduct of everyone at the scene, including the armed officers who arrived. We have seen video footage of the situation that they had to deal with instantly at the scene. Can I ask you about the response times of the police, and about the command and control at the local level before the situation escalated to your level? At this stage, are you happy, from what you have assessed, that local officers, as well as armed officers, were able to respond expeditiously in all the circumstances?
Cressida Dick: I am very mindful of the fact that the Independent Police Complaints Commission are looking at various aspects of our response at the time, and I would not want to take anything away from their investigation, but I must say that I do believe our response was very, very good. I cannot possibly put myself in the shoes of the people who were at that horrific scene-completely traumatised, many of them, I am sure, by what had happened-waiting for the police to arrive, but what I can say is that in terms of both our unarmed response and our armed response, despite the fact there was some inaccurate reporting in the media to start with, we were within our response times that we would expect. Of course we will see what the IPCC say, but I am very comfortable with that.
On the basis of what I know, I am also very comfortable with the command and control. As soon as the call came in saying that somebody had knives and a gun, the armed response vehicle was deployed, and I believe that in the intervening minutes there was very strong command and control in the way that we would expect, in the way that we train for.
Q19 Steve McCabe: Commissioner, how do you go about defining a horrific incident like this as a terrorist incident? In your judgment, what are the main ingredients that make it a terrorist incident?
Cressida Dick: As I said, there are some things that it is difficult for me to say at this stage because matters are sub judice.
Chair: We understand that. Any of the public reasons would be fine. We can keep the confidential reasons to the private session; but publicly, so people can understand.
Cressida Dick: One of the indicators for us at an early stage was some of the words that were used at the scene and captured on social media-the comments that were made. There are a number of other things that made us think that we must respond to it as though it was a terrorist incident, and we are treating it as a terrorist incident.
Q20 Chair: Is it similar to when there is a racist attack? It was once defined as somebody who goes forward and makes racist comments, and therefore you classified it for the purposes of policing as a racist attack.
Cressida Dick: Yes, it is very similar. It is not exactly the same, because if we just had one indicator, like somebody said, "I think it might be terrorism", there are circumstances in which it would be inappropriate for the whole of the counter-terrorism machinery to come out. It depends on a number of different circumstances, but absolutely it is much better to assume that it is and investigate it thus, with all the elements that a terrorist investigation would have, than to decide late in the day that it might have been.
Q21 Chair: Of course it is in the public domain what the individuals have been charged with, but the 12 arrests that you have made are presumably not under the normal criminal law. Are you using terrorism legislation in order to arrest these people, or is it under the ordinary criminal law?
Cressida Dick: At this stage, everybody who has been arrested has been arrested under, as you say, the normal criminal law-under PACE. For example, some of the people on bail were arrested for conspiracy to murder using our PACE powers of arrest. Nobody has been arrested using specific terrorism legislation powers.
Q22 Chair: Is it a surprise, bearing in mind the fact that you have described it as, and the public believe it to be, a terrorist attack, that no terrorism legislation has been used?
Cressida Dick: It is a very definite decision, and I believe there are very good reasons for it. I am very content with the decision, but I could perhaps give two general points that might inform such a decision. The first general point is that if somebody is in hospital, our understanding is that if you arrest them at that stage under the terrorism legislation, the clock starts ticking, whereas it does not if you use the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. Secondly, as I expect the Committee is aware, under the terrorism legislation, we do not have any power to bail people.
Q23 Nicola Blackwood: I want to ask you a little bit about the backlash against the Muslim community. There was quite a lot of commentary about this in the immediate days following the incident, and particularly there were some figures quoted in the media, I think coming from Tell MAMA particularly, of 212 instances. More recently, there has been some coverage that questioned those figures, and that has said that perhaps up to 46% of those instances were online and a number of others were to be verified. What is your assessment of the backlash against the Muslim community here in the Met area, and do you have ongoing concerns?
Cressida Dick: To put a little bit of context around it, my job is not only to ensure that the investigation is done effectively, but also to ensure that we review the security posture in London and provide protection to those who need it. We also have a strategy of engaging and reassuring, and dealing robustly with hate crime and disorder, but also of course, where necessary, of facilitating events and protests. Sadly, in London, as you know, we have had terrorist attacks before, and we have seen hate crime-racist crime-increase in 2007, in 2005 and in 2001. We have again seen an increase in hate crime reported to us and, as you note, apparently reported to others.
What I would say about that is that every single one is horrible. Compared with some previous times, I think we have had slightly less, but I take nothing away from any of them. I am sure there is some low-level abuse going on that neither that organisation nor we are aware of, because people will not always report it, but what I can say is that the increase has been in fear and tension, certainly, but not such a very big increase in attacks as we might have feared. It seems to have started to reduce. There have been some horrible attacks on mosques, but as far as I am aware, we do not have any very serious assaults. If I were to summarise that, fear has certainly been up, tension between communities is certainly up, and it is a big job for the police to be out there protecting people and reassuring them. Hate crime was up afterwards. It is beginning to reduce now, and we hope it will continue to reduce. Meanwhile, we will robustly investigate every one that is reported to us.
Q24 Nicola Blackwood: Do you think that the reporting mechanisms are working effectively? Do you think that hate crime is being reported enough? You say that there are instances that you are not aware of, and that other organisations are not aware of. What is being done to increase reporting?
Cressida Dick: We have a number of officers whose whole job is to try to get out into communities, to encourage people, to help people to understand the kind of crimes that they should report and the kind of incidents that they should report. We have a number of specific mechanisms, through Tell MAMA and others-what we might call third-party reporting. I do believe-it is my professional opinion-that we are in a better position than we were a few years ago, and a higher proportion of the minority ethnic population and Muslim population feel that they know how to report, when to report and that they should report, and they feel more confident that we will do something about it, but I am sure that when we debrief the whole operation there will be other things that we could do in the future to assist with this.
Q25 Chair: Can you tell the Committee whether any of the 12 people arrested are going to be the subject of an application for TPIMs, or are any of them already subject to an order?
Cressida Dick: I could not possibly tell you that, I am afraid. That would not be appropriate.
Q26 Bridget Phillipson: You referred to the protests that have taken place more recently in London. Can you set out what assessment you have made of how the Met has responded to that, whether you are content with that response, and what additional pressures on resourcing that may have led to? As you described, you have had to dedicate a lot of officers to investigating the events that took place in Woolwich, and presumably some of the protests and counter-protests have placed an additional demand on the service.
Cressida Dick: Yes. As I said, on that night and subsequently we have tried to have extra officers out and about, ready to respond-for example at the scenes of arrests and searches-to any incidents, and constantly talking to people who wish to organise events, the vast majority of which have been extremely respectful and easy to support and police, as well as some other much larger-scale ones. We have tried to make really good use of our protest liaison officers in our communication with those event organisers. Some of them were at relatively short notice, some of them were quite large-scale, and some of them had potential to cause real concern in communities and/or be difficult for us to police. You will perhaps be aware that we had some big events on the first Saturday after Lee died, and again this last weekend. On the last weekend, my colleague Mr Rowley used powers under section 12 and section 14 of the Public Order Act to move a particular protest from Woolwich to near here in Whitehall.
Across the country, as well, we have had a whole range of operations, and indeed protests and events. Overall, I think they have been policed very well, and I am very content with the way in which we have balanced people’s right to protest with our duty to uphold the law and ensure that, as far as possible, the peace is kept. It does take a lot of officers and a lot of experience and skill. It is fair to say the Met has been going at a fair stretch since the 22nd, and many officers have worked extensive hours, day after day after day. What I can tell you is that every single one of them wants to do that. They all want to be involved.
Q27 Chris Ruane: Coming briefly back to the issue of diversity, in a previous evidence session we were informed by two senior black officers that they had concerns that the diversity of the black and ethnic community was not reflected currently in police forces. A charge of £1,000 to enter police college is now in place, and they felt-I echo their concerns-that this would work against young recruits from black and ethnic minorities and also from working-class council estates. People in those communities do not have £1,000 up front to put there. When was it introduced, and what is your assessment of its impact?
Cressida Dick: This is the Police Knowledge Certificate, which is becoming our prerequisite for joining the police. I can’t on this case speak for other forces. What I can say is that we in the Met, from the moment it first came in, were acutely aware-
Q28 Chris Ruane: Which was when, approximately?
Cressida Dick: It is not my area of responsibility, and I would have to come back to you with the precise date; apologies for that. As a management board, when we were first briefed about this system, we wanted to try to make it as accessible as possible in all sorts of different ways, and we were very alert to the cost. One of the things we are looking at is whether we should look to have bursaries or to subsidise people in some way. I know that within some community organisations where they want to ensure that people they know-young people that they are proud of who would be good police officers-can become police officers, they are thinking about whether they would support people to go through this. I think it is fair to say that we are alert to the issue. We have not resolved precisely how we are going to deal with it, but we do want to support in a variety of different ways people who might be put off from joining the police to join the police.
Q29 Chris Ruane: Are you collecting the data before and after this charge was introduced to see if it has had an impact? If you are, could you perhaps relay that data to the Committee to see which social groups, and which religious and ethnic groups, have been adversely or positively affected by this?
Cressida Dick: If I can, I will. My difficulty is that I am not sure when it was introduced. I am absolutely sure we will be monitoring. I do not know how many people have come through that system nationally and what data are available, but of course I shall look for the data. Bear in mind, of course, that many forces have not been recruiting.
Q30 Chair: Can we clear up a couple of points before we go into private session? First of all, it is in the public domain that the Metropolitan Police is providing some kind of protection to Anjem Choudary. Is that correct?
Cressida Dick: We constantly risk-assess what is going on around a number of different people who are very high-profile in the media. In the case of somebody like Mr Choudary, we are constantly assessing, of course, whether any of his proclamations are breaking the criminal law.
Chair: That was my next question.
Cressida Dick: We are working with the CPS to ensure that if he is breaking the criminal law, we deal with it very swiftly. I am not going to comment on what precisely we are doing with Mr Choudary. All I would say is that if we did fear that someone, anyone, whoever they may be, as a general point, had their life at risk, or indeed that there is going to be some sort of major disorder around them, we may put in place a variety of kinds of police presence to stop an assault.
Q31 Chair: It is reported that you are providing support. I understand why you do not want to tell the Committee in open session about it, but you are giving us a general point that in those circumstances, even though you may be considering prosecuting him, he may be someone whom you would risk-assess. Is that right? You can leave it as vague as that if you want to.
Cressida Dick: If there is ever information in the public domain that somebody might be assaulted, or their life may be at risk, we will always look at that and see if they are aware that this is the case. There are a variety of different things we can do, but if somebody’s life is at risk, we do have a duty, whoever they may be, to ensure that they are not killed.
Q32 Chair: What worries some of us in the Committee is a report we produced last year into the roots of radicalism, in which we looked at the whole issue of proscription. He in particular has been involved with a number of groups-Islam4UK, al-Muhajiroun, the Call to Submission, Islamic Path, the London School of Sharia, the Saved Sect-and of course the organisations have been banned, but that does not stop individuals from being involved in other activities that are possibly inflammatory. Do you think that we need to look at the issue of proscription again and review the way in which we proscribe organisations? Suddenly, individuals and organisations pop up somewhere else with different names.
Cressida Dick: This is clearly a very difficult issue for legislators to deal with, and if it was easy, I am sure it would have been solved some time ago. It does cause a great deal of concern and frustration to us that precisely what you have described happens: people can move from group to group. A group can be proscribed, and then the name can be changed and it can be very difficult to prove any offences. I know that in the Prime Minister’s announcement it is clear that this sort of thing-what more legislation can do-is going to be looked at, and I certainly welcome that.
Q33 Chair: One of the areas is of course the internet. For example, this afternoon you can still go on the internet and see Anwar al-Awlaki give one of his speeches. Are you working with the internet service providers and the search engines like Google to try to get them to be more proactive, to try to stop such extremist material being put on the internet?
Cressida Dick: Yes. We have a unit called the Internet Referral Unit that is housed within the Metropolitan Police but has a national responsibility. They seek out and are informed about such material, and they work with providers to get that material taken down. As the internet changes, they are becoming more and more skilled at this. We are having very high volumes of extremist material taken off the internet. We are also trying to ensure that where it cannot be, for whatever reason, it does not find its way into what you might call the public estate-into libraries and that sort of thing. This is a developing field, quite clearly.
Q34 Chair: I am sure you are aware of what they are doing at Europol, which is monitoring all the websites throughout the whole of Europe. Presumably they are keeping you informed when they find a website that is particularly nasty.
Cressida Dick: Yes, and we do have some very good technology of our own as well.
Q35 Nicola Blackwood: There is quite a lot of debate about the role that the Communications Data Bill might play in situations such as the Woolwich murder. In your opinion, would the Communications Data Bill have been helpful in this instance or going forward in your work?
Cressida Dick: I do not think I can speculate as to the use of communications data to date in any investigation that has gone before. No doubt part of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s deliberations will be to see what has happened. What I can say is that every single significant counter-terrorism investigation depends hugely on communications data, almost every murder investigation, going forward, depends hugely on communications data, and as each day goes by we are finding and fearing that our capability is beginning to degrade. I have put this on record before. It is clearly a matter for others to decide what is appropriate legislation, where the balance lies between what we need and say we want to do our work as effectively as we can and people’s privacy. For us this is an incredibly important tool, and we use it all the time in counter-terrorism.
Q36 Steve McCabe: In these cost-conscious times, is there any limit to how much money you will spend on protecting individuals who invite trouble by their own behaviour and who, by their own statements, have nothing but contempt for the British state and the British police, and are therefore not very likely to co-operate with you?
Cressida Dick: There is certainly a limit on the amount of protection we can give to anybody. Certainly when we are looking at what the intelligence is, what the issue is, what the risk is, and what should be done, one of our considerations very often is to talk to the individuals themselves about how they can protect themselves and how they can reduce their risk of harm, so costs do come into our decisions, absolutely.
Q37 Chair: At the moment, in respect of this inquiry, you have not had to go to the private sector to get any additional support, as you have done in some of the other Metropolitan Police investigations. This is all members of the Met, or those from other police forces. Is that right?
Cressida Dick: Yes, it is.
Q38 Chair: Just remind the Committee how many people you have working on this currently.
Cressida Dick: A couple of days ago we had 600. I think it has come down slightly from that. I can furnish the Committee with the latest number shortly after the meeting.
Chair: Assistant Commissioner, thank you very much for coming to give evidence today. We are most grateful. We are now going to go into private session with you, and we will clear the gallery of members of the public.