Now then, what's this unit all about?
Well today London has become the first city in the UK to have an elected Mayor with unequivocal responsibility for overseeing the police. The Mayor's existing powers to setting police priorities have been significantly strengthened, with the rest of the country set to elect their Police and Crime Commissioners in November 2012.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPC) has replaced the Metropolitan Police Authority, which means the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime will hold the Met Commissioner to account and ensure that the police target the crimes that concern Londoners, including:
- Strengthening the Met’s response to serious youth violence including knife crime
- Ensuring London has enough front line police officers on the streets
- Targeting robbery, burglary and drug dealing in every borough
- Getting tough on gangs and tackling re-offending rates
Mayor Boris Johnson said:
“Protecting our police force and getting more officers out pounding the streets is more crucial than ever. We’ve taken thousands of knives off the streets and prioritised youth violence, but we need to do even more to crackdown on criminals. Londoners rightly expect to live in a safe city and I’ll now be keeping an even closer eye on every aspect of policing, ensuring more than ever that the crimes that most concern Londoners are addressed. “
The Mayor will personally oversee the policing budget and will meet the Met Commissioner on policing issues in the capital. The Mayor has appointed Kit Malthouse to lead the work of the Mayor’s Office for Crime and Policing, which will manage an annual budget of £11 million.
But LibDem candidate Brian Paddick, a former Met Commander, is unimpressed. He spake thus:
“Within months of being given the legal responsibility to chair the Metropolitan Police Authority, the Mayor delegated the job to someone else. Now he laughably claims he'll be keeping an even closer eye on every aspect of policing because, from today, he alone has the power to decide London's policing priorities and budget.
“I have more than 30 years experience of reducing crime, focusing officers' efforts on what local people want and making sure it was done fairly. Crime is what Londoners are most concerned about and no other candidate is better qualified to be Mayor of London now controlling the police goes with the job".
While Ken said:
"The mayor's own policing documents show the overall number of police officers is set to fall even further by 2014.
"Londoners want the mayor to use the new responsibilities to put more police officers on the streets to make our streets safer rather than cutting them."
Anyone would think there was an election on.