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London Policing Rift ‘A Taste Of Things To Come’

Clash between deputy mayor for policing and assembly members will be replicated with arrival of police and crime commissioners, says academic

The dramatic exchanges between London Assembly members and the Deputy Mayor for Policing could indicate how some elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs) could conduct themselves, according to a leading academic.

Dr Tim Brain (pictured), a former chief constable of Gloucestershire Constabulary, said that relationships between PCCs and policing and crime panels could be confrontational and difficult.

¬Mr Greenhalgh has set out his stall early – and this type of approach is something that we are going to see more of.¬

He was speaking after the Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, was involved in a series of heated exchanges with members of the assembly’s Police and Crime Committee after he advised the Metropolitan Police Commissioner that his attendance at their meeting on June 21 was not necessary.

Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe had been due to field questions on operational issues. But Mr Greenhalgh pointed out that it was the job of assembly members to hold the politician to account – and not senior officers with the force.

He told the committee 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.

Mr Greenhalgh also suggested that attending each meeting could become a burden on the commissioner’s time, as his primary role was keeping London safe.

In an interview with PoliceOracle.com, Dr Brain said that the exchanges in London showed how relationships between police and crime commissioners and the panels holding them to account could function in future.

Dr Brain said: “I would say that this type of scene is something we are going to have to get used to. The police and crime panel is not going to be a police authority.

“We are going to see more of this happening – the question here is whether a chief officer has to attend the meetings, and I suspect he does not have to.”

While accepting that relationships would vary between areas, the academic went on to point out that the relationships might be volatile in some cases.

Dr Brain said: “Mr Greenhalgh has set out his stall early – and this type of approach is something that we are going to see more of.”

Following the meeting on June 21, assembly members agreed to write to Mayor Boris Johnson, emphasising their disappointment over Mr Greenhalgh’s approach.

They are also writing formally to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Commissioner Hogan-Howe, putting to him the questions they would have asked at City Hall.

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