London Assembly Members have called for greater powers to hold the Metropolitan Police to account in the wake of police failures in the investigation of phone hacking allegations.
A motion agreed by Assembly Members on Wednesday also calls on Ministers to delay reforms to the control and oversight of the Met until after next year’s Olympic Games.
Under proposals contained in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, currently being debated in the Hose of Lords, responsibility for the Met will pass from the Metropolitan Police Authority to a Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime with AMs taking over the MPA’s scrutiny functions.
AMs say to properly hold the Met to account on behalf of Londoners they need greater formal powers than are currently contained in the Bill.
The motion, passed by a majority of AMs, calls for the power to summon chief police officers, have the right to see documents, conduct investigations into the force and receive formal responses to reports.
The motion was proposed by Labour and backed by Green and Liberal Democrat AMs after the removal of what was seen as a partisan attack on the Mayor’s conduct when allegations of phone hacking were first raised.
Labour’s Len Duvall AM, who proposed the motion, said: “While I agree with the Government’s stated aim of improving police accountability the arrangements currently proposed by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill are in danger of achieving the opposite.
“If we have learnt anything from the phone hacking revelations of the last week, it is that our police service in London needs more transparency not less. What could possibly be wrong with requiring the Met and its senior officers to account for their actions to London’s elected Assembly in a public meeting?”
The full text of the motion reads as follows:
“That the Assembly notes the answers to the questions asked and expresses its strong concern at the Mayor of London’s response to the allegations of phone hacking by news organisations raised with him in September 2010, believes he was wrong to dismiss the allegations in the manner he did at that time, and asks the Assembly’s Chair and Vice-Chair, in consultation with Party Group Leaders, to take the following action:
1. To arrange for further representations to be made to government over plans to establish a Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, including delaying the introduction of a Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime until after the 2012 Olympic Games.
2. Because the Assembly believes that in light of the recent developments in how allegations of phone hacking have been handled by the Metropolitan Police Service, the proposed powers in the Police and Social Responsibility Bill to allow the Police and Crime Panel of the London Assembly to summon chief police officers, require the production of documents and reports, conduct investigations and issue reports requiring a formal response must be strengthened in the legislation currently passing through Parliament.
3. This Assembly therefore calls on the Government to provide proper investigative powers to strengthen the Assembly’s Police and Crime Panels ability to summons senior civilian staff at the Met, look in detail at the operation of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, and have the ability to summons and investigate the conduct and individual actions of office holders of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.”