Met Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur has raised the prospect of non-UK armed police patrolling the capital during the 2012 Olympic games.
Interviewed in the Parliamentary Monitor Mr Ghaffur suggests:
“We may have to change some constitutional positions, like, do we bring in some foreign police officers to work here like they did in Germany.”
This raises serious questions about the accountability of such officers. If a British officer fires their weapon they are subject to an immediate and independent investigation. What arrangements would exist in relation to any non-UK officers in similar circumstances?
How would the UK authorities ensure these officers were available to any enquiry? The Government’s failure to secure evidence for the inquest into Lance Corporal Matty Hull is hardly an inspiring precedent.
Would these officers have a power of arrest over UK citizens?
Mr Ghaffur is right when he says “the starting point is always we police with the consent and co-operation of the community.” London’s police are drawn from our communities, it’s this which fosters community consent and co-operation.
We find ourselves agreeing with the Conservative Olympics spokesman Hugh Robertson who told today’s Telegraph:
“In my view, this is a job for the British police and solely for the British police.”
If more police are needed it’s incumbent on the Met and central government to use the next 6 years to fund and recruit sufficient numbers. They should start by looking to convert existing Police Community Support Officers into fully fledged officers and work to improve retention rates.