An update on Boris’s ‘secret’ police scrutiny sessions

Boris Johnson chairing October 2012′s MOPAC Challenge meeting at City Hall.
Last month I highlighted how the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime was failing to inform Londoners of its regular ‘MOPAC Challenge’ meetings at which the Met is supposedly held to account.

As I’ve remarked before, meaningful scrutiny requires an absence of vested interest and the longer MOPAC is in charge of setting budgets and shaping policing priorities, the closer its and the Met’s interests will grow.

When budget cuts or policies imposed by one affect the performance of the other, where’s the motive to raise the issue in public?

Anyhow, after a couple of prompts MOPAC has listed online its full schedule of meetings and is also linking through from the public meetings section on london.gov.uk.

Sadly there still seem to be some gaps in the communications strategy – the MOPAC Challenge page appears absent of any real detail about the meetings and doesn’t, unlike the Assembly’s standard practice, offer meeting papers to download. Here are the papers for the Assembly Police and Crime Committee meeting taking place this Thursday.

And I’ve heard from several people who’ve dutifully submitted their details to the ‘Sign up for MOPAC updates’ page expecting to get updates on meetings and initiatives but who have never heard anything back.

Assembly Members also seem not to be getting details of the sessions, so for them and all other interested parties here’s an extract from the ops note sent to London’s media yesterday afternoon:

“Please note: Media wishing to attend should email policing@london.gov.uk (The meeting is open to the public and will be webcast live on www.london.gov.uk however broadcast footage will be limited so cameras are welcome)
 
The Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, is asking the Metropolitan Police, and other key agencies, to do more to tackle youth violence and help steer young people away from a life of gangs and crime.
 
At the monthly MOPAC Challenge Board the Deputy Mayor will hear from families affected by gang violence, including Barry Mizen whose son Jimmy was killed in May 2008 and Sally Knox whose son Robert also died in the same month.
 
The Deputy Mayor will challenge the Metropolitan Police and representatives from London Councils, Probation, Prison and Children’s services to explain their work around gangs, give an overview of the results of their current prevention schemes and discuss ways to improve responses between agencies.
 
There will also be an update on the MPS Trident Command and its recent performance in tackling gang crime.
 
Chairing this month’s meeting will be Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, who will be joined by senior MOPAC advisors.  Assistant Commissioner, Mark Rowley, will be questioned alongside the lead MPS Commander, Steve Rodhouse.”

Note the rather peculiar request for the media to pre-register their attendance at what is meant to be a public scrutiny session.

As is normal City Hall behaviour, the email conveying this information was marked “Not for publication” but when I highlighted this last month in the absence of any publicity, the Mayor’s and MOPAC’s press office suggested it was fine to ignore. So ignore it I have.

Among the dozen guests attending the 90 minute meeting is the Met’s Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley.

Given MOPAC’s desire to protect senior Met officers from spending too many days in meetings at City Hall and its determination to protect them from an onerous number of questions, Rowley presumably has something substantially different to say than his colleague Steve Rodhouse who gave evidence to the Assembly earlier this year on the same issue.

Especially as Rodhouse is also attending.