From Lord Harris (Chair, MPA) to lambeth4paddick

10 December 2002


Thank you for your lengthy and interesting response of 24 November to my letter of 14 November. You will know that since I received your letter Commander Paddick has issued a statement to the effect that he no longer wishes to press for a return to Lambeth. I believe therefore that the issue is, in a sense, closed and it would be in the interest of all concerned to go forward in partnership with Brian Moore and his colleagues.

However, there are some points you raise, which do clearly call for a response and, following your sequence, that is what I will try to do in the rest of the letter.

You raised a number of questions about the extent to which both the MPS and the MPA are robust in maintaining independence of the force and in supporting individual officers. Can I give you unequivocal assurance that the Authority has and will continue to support the Commissioner and his senior colleagues in ensuring that the operational control of the police in London remains free from any improper or undue influence from any quarter whatsoever. This is not to say that consulting with London’s diverse communities, as innovatively and extensively as possible, is not very important to us. Of course it is. I would say that the discussions that have gone to and fro about the future command of Lambeth borough is one example of that. But this consultation must be open and the pressures applied must not be improper.

Similarly the Authority is energetic and proactive in ensuring that the MPS is as inventive as possible and truly becomes a “learning organisation”. We do indeed need innovative and entrepreneurial officers. We recognise that Brian Paddick is one such and look forward to his continuing contribution in the important area of intelligence management. The organisation is not irredeemably risk averse: it has demonstrated this in a number of areas, not least in supporting the Lambeth Cannabis pilot. I believe there is room for it to become even more flexible and look forward to encouraging that over the next two year’s of the present Authority’s existence.

Finally, on the general points, our commitment to eradicating any traces of institutionalised or individual prejudice and discrimination is absolute. In this context I was personally encouraged by the findings of Bishop Sentamu in respect of the progress that has been made by the MPS in learning the lessons of the Stephen Lawrence Enquiry. What applies to racist discrimination must also apply on the grounds of sexual orientation. The Authority would similarly deplore any evidence that this was a factor at any rank or within any organisational unit of the MPS.

May I turn now to some of the specific points in your letter. I apologise if my orginal response confused two pieces of work done by consultants from Accenture. The review of borough command structures, which as I understand it, though the Authority has yet to see the formal product of this review, recommends that Westminster should be the only borough commanded by an ACPO rank, was an internal piece of work commissioned by the Assistant Commissioner, Territorial Policing. It seems to me to have been an appropriate step to take in the light of the realignment of ACPO commands, which in turn was conducted in recognition of the fact that the move to borough based policing needed further amendments to the way in which borough commanders were supported from headquarters. As I say, I have not seen the final report of that review and this being the case I cannot, of course, comment on the detailed points you make about their recommendations or the figures they have been employing.

The much larger and more fundamental series of reviews that are being carried out as part of the efficiency and effectiveness programme, overseen jointly by the Mayor, the Commissioner and the Authority, is also, in its present tranche, being carried out by Accenture consultants. There is no overlap between this work and the more limited review conducted internally.

You were right to assume that the Authority gives considerable attention to manpower planning. We will be monitoring the effects on the operational availability of constables of the reclassification of cannabis by the Home Secretary. The introduction of the operational policing measure, reinforced by a move to activity based costing, will enable the Authority in future to be much better informed about the effects of shifting resources in this way. As and when we reach a conclusion these will of course be made available in reports to the relevant committees to the Authority, all of which are public documents and are available either from our website or from the Secretariat of the Authority.

I have read with interest your analysis of the crime figures within Lambeth and in particular the extent to which the improvement in crime figures, which we all welcome, can be attributable to Project Walrus. I am visiting Lambeth as part of my regular visits to the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships in all the boroughs. The visit is jointly hosted by the leader of the Council and the Borough Commander and I know that many of the key players in crime and disorder and community safety will be at that meeting on 12 December. I shall certainly use the analysis contained in your letter as part of my briefing material and will want to explore the points that you make with those at the meeting in some detail.

Finally, I think I must make it clear, as I said in my letter of 14 November, day to day operational policing under the direction and control of Metropolitan Police officers is a matter for the Commissioner not the Authority. This includes, in the last analysis, deployment to borough commands. Although the Authority can expect to be consulted on changes and would want to feed into the decision process, the final decision, and this of course includes the decision to allow Lambeth to revert to a non-ACPO command, must remain with the Commissioner.

Yours sincerely,

Toby Harris,

Metropolitan Police Authority