Friday, September 04, 2009

Boris Johnson and the Metropolitan Police

The Guardian has got very excited by its story that the Tories claim to have seized control of Scotland Yard.

This campaign strikes me as being in the ignoble tradition of its attempt on the eve of the last Mayoral election to persuade people not to vote for Boris Johnson because he is a racist. This proved wholly ineffective - and remarkable dull to those of us who don't live in London.

But would it be such an outrage if Johnson and Kit Malthouse, the deputy mayor in charge of policing, had taken control of Scotland Yard?

When I lived in London in the early 1980s one of the consistent demands from political radicals was that the Metropolitan Police should be accountable to the people of London - "Nylondoners," as Ken Livingstone called them. For in those days the Met was firmly under the control of the home secretary.

So when the Guardian says:

Under Johnson, the Tories say they have placed more focus on tackling knife crime, put more officers on patrol and encouraged greater effort on tackling dangerous dogs. One Met source complained that Malthouse was on the phone almost daily complaining about dogs.

Malthouse also disclosed that a key document setting out the Met's priorities was no longer written in Scotland Yard and then nodded through by politicians. Instead it was written by a team headed by Johnson and Malthouse, with the police influencing it.

It sounds fine by me. Ultimately the people of London must be able to set the priorities of their own police force, mustn't they?


dreamingspire said...

While I'm no friend of the Home Office, there are clearly national imperatives for the policing of London. One only has to be in central London (as I was on Thursday) to see the need to police the capital at the national interest level.

Matthew Huntbach said...

If the Guardian has woken up to the dangers of something like setting police priorities being in the hands of one person, then perhaps they should stop publishing their endless stream of comment articles in which directly elected executive mayors are put forward as the solution to whatever is the problem of the day. Perhaps they might even be radical enough to publish an article critical the concept.