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Violence not fraud is our priority, says Met Deputy Commissioner

“We have to deal with violence first…fraud is not top of our list”, says Metropolitan Deputy Commissioner Stephen House.

 “Precious few” new officers will be assigned to tackling cyber fraud Deputy Commissioner Stephen House has told the London Assembly due to the fact that the Met's top priority is tacking violence. 

He said: “We have to deal with violence first. We have to deal with our presence on the street and give public reassurance that they are as safe as they can be and that we drive violence down. Once we’ve got that under control we will then look at other types of crime.

“Fraud is not top of our list at the moment.”

DC House, speaking alongside Deputy Mayor Sophie Linden, said: “We know that fraud is increasing significantly in the past few years, much of it is over the internet.”

But in response to a member of the London Assembly who said: “I assume some of these recruits are going towards cyber fraud?”, DC House said: “In all honesty, precious few”.  

There has been mounting pressure on forces to tackle the rise in cyber offences.

The HMICFRS published a review into forces’ response to cybercrime last October which highlighted Action Fraud’s failure to adequately deal with the number of investigations.

From April 2019 until November 2019 there were a total of 16,718 cyber dependent frauds reported to Action Fraud, which is overseen by City of London Police.

Last month, Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, a longstanding critic of Action Fraud, wrote in The Times that the lack of police response to fraud offences was a “national emergency”.

PCC Underhill wrote: “Fraud is the most prevalent crime in Britain today, and yet police forces have less than one per cent of their resources dedicated to fighting it.”

But the Met, which is one of the few forces to have seen an increase in homicides over the last 12 months, is under more pressure to prioritise violent crime.

DC House told the London Assembly: “We are absolutely determined and the Commissioner has said repeatedly, her number one priority is to reduce violence across London and we’ve had significant success in certain areas.” One example he gave was the number of firearms discharged in the past couple of year has reduced by 47%.

The Metropolitan Police also retrieved 4,000 bladed weapons in the last 12 months.

On the subject of knife crime, DC House said: “We’re introducing more investigative officers for a follow through which we believe will improve the situation.”

He also revealed that 72 per cent of homicide victims under 25 in London were from the Afro-Caribbean community, which he described as "completely disproportionate".

There were 149 homicides in London in 2019, compared to 133 the previous year. Homicide rates are decreasing nationally. 

When asked by an assembly member when he was anticipating to see a reduction in crime now that the officer uptake had begun, DC House said: “Officers are hugely dedicated, desperate to do a good job and very tired. They’re worn out and people need to understand that that has an impact on how the organisation works.”

“It will take us a while to get on top of all violence.”

DC House also said that the force’s operatonal capabilities were subject to events.

He said: “In 2017 we saw a number of terrorist attacks there is no doubt that detracted to a certain extent our abilities.

“There were more aid day extraction of officers from basic command units to deal with Extinction Rebellion than there were for terrorist attacks last year which massively dented our officers.”

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