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London Deputy Mayor For Policing Lambasted

Assembly members left furious after Stephen Greenhalgh advised Met Commissioner not to attend meeting

Furious members of the London Assembly have launched a broadside at the Deputy Mayor for Policing after he advised the Metropolitan Police Commissioner that it was not necessary for him to attend a meeting at City Hall.

Appearing before the Police and Crime Committee, Stephen Greenhalgh admitted that he had advised Bernard Hogan-Howe that his attendance was not required – and it was not the job of members to hold senior officers to account.

¬I did not think it necessary for him to be here (at this meeting). Your job is to hold me to account.¬

Mr Greenhalgh said that the Office for Policing and Crime would be holding monthly challenge meetings in public with both senior officers and Mayor Boris Johnson – and pointed out that this would improve transparency.

But assembly members were furious, pointing out that it had been agreed that either the commissioner or one of his senior leadership team would attend all of their meetings – and that this was needed to clarify operational details.

Mr Greenhalgh was forced onto the defensive as his conduct was described as “an absolute outrage” by member Victoria Borwick – who suggested that the meeting should be abandoned in the absence of a chief officer.

Other members openly accused the deputy mayor of “coming here to pick a fight” and claiming that the committee had been “disrespected” by his actions.

Committee Chair Joanne McCartney suggested that the meeting should be allowed to proceed. But she said she was “quite outraged” adding: “It is not for you as the executive how to tell the scrutiny arm of the assembly how to operate.”

She went on to point out that the committee had received an email confirming the absence of the commissioner just eight minutes before the meeting started.

Ms McCartney later added: “When the new arrangements for policing in London were established the then Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime said it would be inconceivable that the Commissioner would not accept an invitation to appear before the Assembly. Sadly his successor has prevented London’s elected representatives from hearing from the chief of police.”

“The committee has a duty not only to hold the deputy mayor to account for his actions but also to investigate any matters of importance to policing in the capital.

“It is inconceivable that the commissioner would not have important information to share with the committee about failures in the investigation of rapes in London, public order policing, the operational use of Tasers and policing the Diamond Jubilee, all subjects for discussion.”

However, in maintaining a robust defence of his position Mr Greenhalgh told the committee that it was the primary role of Mr Hogan-Howe was to keep the capital safe.

He pointed out that – of 200 annual working days – the commissioner would have to give up five if assembly members required him to attend every meeting.

Mr Greenhalgh confirmed that the committee had the right to ask the commissioner to attend any of its meetings. But he added: “I did not think it necessary for him to be here (at this meeting). Your job is to hold me to account.”

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