When Bernard Hogan-Howe took over as Met Commissioner two years ago he promised to reform the way officers used Stop & Search powers and reduce the 80% of stops which resulted in no action.
At the time Sir Bernard said future use of the powers would be more intelligence led so that fewer innocent members of the public were stopped and more wrongdoers caught.
It was a bold promise but one which had been made before with no real progress ever being made.
Yet figures provided by the Met to the capital’s policing watchdog – the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee – suggest Hogan-Howe is delivering where his predecessors failed.
As the slide below shows, between April and June the number of stops carried out in boroughs fell by as much as 43% compared to the same period last year. Across London the number is down 13.4% – 12,000 fewer stops – compared to the previous quarter and 12.2% (10,829 stops) in a year.
On Thursday Sir Bernard and Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey appeared before the Committee for their regular monthly grilling on performance and progress against past promises and undertakings.
Unlike some who held their posts before them, the Met’s current leadership seem to really ‘get’ the depth of public unease about what’s widely seen as an overuse of the power to stop citizens and either make them account for themselves or be searched.
Mackey told Assembly Members that the sense of injustice innocent people feel at being stopped is so great that he’s encountered people still angry about their experience decades after the event.
In their answers to AMs yesterday both were clear that officers using Stop & Search powers should be prepared and able to justify their decision to do so.
They also urged those who get stopped to use the anonymous feedback tool on the Met’s website to share their experience so that they can better understand what’s happening at ground-level.
The Commissioner and his Deputy deserve credit for their progress in reducing the Met’s self-harming overuse of a power which takes up officer time and yet yields few results and harms community relations. Encouragingly more progress is promised.
The Police and Crime Committee is currently assessing the full impact of Hogan-Howe’s Stop & Search reforms and expects to publish a detailed, comprehensive report in the new year.