I have a puzzle for the Metropolitan police – a mystery that only they can solve. Why, if the Met is so short-staffed, do they hang around in groups? Why do officers clump?
Why are some crimes completely ignored, but at other minor incidents the Met appear en masse? In London side streets I come across police vans, bumper to bumper, full of officers just sitting, doing nothing, like large unhappy children on a school trip. It’s demoralising for me. I can’t imagine how depressing it must be for them.
Sir Mark Rowley, the new Met Commissioner, has announced what he calls the ‘Turnaround Plan’ for transforming the Met. The first step is a ‘listening’ exercise so as to ‘rebuild the trust and confidence of Londoners’. As a Londoner, I should have ‘a greater say in determining my policing needs’, Sir Mark says, which suits me just fine. I have a long list of policing needs.
First up, I’d like the men of the Met to have a shave. Every single one of them has some sort of beard and it makes them look shifty. This is not a strong look, considering. My second policing need is for the Met to do away with virtual recruiting. During Covid they began to interview prospective officers online, not face to face, and they’ve never phased it out. But if you’re in the business of finding decent, non-rapey officers, it’s clearly a good idea to look them in the eye. Online dating tells you all you need to know about that.
The third and most pressing policing need I have is to clear up this question of how and why officers are deployed.