The City of London is in a unique position as we have our own dedicated police force: the City of London Police. As the police force for the UK’s financial heart its core mission is (as national lead) to protect the UK from economic crime and maintain the City of London as one of the safest cities in the world, working closely with the Metropolitan Police and other agencies. There are many competing priorities from fighting terrorism and tackling crime to road safety and combating fraud.
Recently I was elected to join my Ward colleague Nick Bensted-Smith and others on the City’s Police Committee. Having previously served as a Special Constable in the Metropolitan Police, this is a Committee close to my heart. I hope to be able to use this experience and commitment to scrutinize and support the City of London Police and – as local representative – raise issues identified by local City workers, businesses and residents.
Much of the work of local Councillor often goes unnoticed as we participate in discussions and decisions on several Committees who run the City Corporation. You can find a full list of the Committees I contribute to here. This blog post will give a bit more information on one of these Committees: the Police Committee
The Committee’s role as Police Authority is to make sure the City of London Police runs an effective and efficient service by holding the Commissioner to account; to ensure value for money in the way the police is run, and to set policing priorities taking into account the views of the community.
I am the lead Committee member for two areas: (1) Equality, Diversity and Human Rights, and (2) Community engagement and Anti-Social Behaviour. These areas were previously looked led by independent Committee member Lucy Sandford who has done an excellent job and prepared a comprehensive report on last year’s activities, which you can find here.
Equality, Diversity and Human Rights
I have previously worked for the Equal Opportunities Commission (now Commission for Equality and Human Rights). It’s therefore a great opportunity for me to draw on this experience to support initiatives and challenge the force to make improvements where needed.
Approximately a quarter of our officers and 45% of our staff are female, whilst 6% of our officers and at least 20% of our staff come from a BAME background. Compared nationally, the City of London Police has been successful in creating a diverse workforce within police staff members. BAME representation amongst officers whilst matching national averages, is not yet representative of our surrounding communities. Something I will be looking at. Out of 46 Police Forces, we had the second lowest gender pay gap for Police Officers after Cleveland Police Force, which is a good result.
Community engagement and Anti-Social Behaviour
The Community the City Police serves is unusual when compared to other forces. We police a square mile that predominately consists of people who are transient and travel into the area for work and tourism. Approximately 28% of residents either reside in the City full-time or they have two homes, with the City home being their working home rather than the family home. The largest non-white group in the City of London are Asian accounting for 12.7% of the resident population, primarily in one ward to the East of the City.
Working with the Safer Community Project Team under a One Safe City Programme methods through which the City Police engages with our communities have been reviewed. I’ll be looking at the implementation of agreed actions though out this year. One area of focus is our engagement with schools and young people.
I will also be following up on concerns City workers and residents often raise with me as their local Councillor (see report of Ward of Cheap annual meeting here) – begging, anti-social behaviour and licensing issues and rough sleeping. The City Police of course needs to balance different important priorities, and we should not underestimated the dedication and hard work of all the officers and staff to keep us safe, but by ensuring different agencies and charities work together I am positive we can make a difference.
Separately I will also closely follow actions by the Police and City of London to tackle road safety, including bad behaviour of some cyclists. Last year casualties reduced with 122 cyclists casualties, 105 pedestrian casualties and 68 motorcycle casualties. The Bank Junction trial scheme is an important part of the City’s casualty reduction plan, but there are several other initiatives. I am keen to see more action being taken around cycle safety – both for cyclists and pedestrians.
Behaviour of unsafe drivers (along with traffic congestion and rough sleeping) was one of the top concerns indicated by respondents to our Ward of Cheap survey in January. With the majority of respondents pointing to the bad behaviour of some cyclists.
Regarding policing priorities alcohol related behaviour, cyber crime and rough sleeping were indicated as key priorities by City workers and residents. It was great to see that respondents indicated they felt very safe in the City and were positive about the service provided by the Police. All in all lots of good work happening, and lots of important issues to continue to work on. I am honoured to be able to make my contribution as member of the City’s Police Committee.