'Less than half of Londoners believe the Met police are doing a good job'

File photo dated 15/09/17 of Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley who is set to be

Sir Mark Rowley has been named as the new Met Police commissioner - Credit: PA

I’d like to congratulate Sir Mark Rowley, who was named as the new Met Police commissioner. I am delighted that this appointment has been made sooner than expected given the urgency of the challenges ahead for policing in London. 

From his first day on the job, he must hit the ground running to turn around the very serious situation the Metropolitan Police is facing. 

The police watchdog, HMICFRS, has found stark failings when it comes to the Met’s day-to-day operational performance. The Met is not the only police force in these special measures – it joins six others across the country. 

One of the factors impacting Met, and nationwide police performance, is chronic underfunding by the government. In 12 years, the Met Police has lost around £1 billion due to the devastating impact of austerity which saw officer numbers falling below 30,000 in London. While serving officers were recently given a pay rise way below inflation. 

Anne Clarke, Labour Party London Assembly candidate for Barnet and Camden

Anne Clarke will be holding the new Met Police commissioner to account - Credit: Anne Clarke/Labour

The mayor has called for 6,000 new officers to bring police numbers per head of the population like they were in 2010. So far, the government has only funded the recruitment of just over 4,500. There’s no pretending that hasn’t had an effect. I will continue to support calls for the government to properly fund the police and pay officers what they deserve. 

The extra scrutiny of the Met comes after the toxic culture in some parts of the Met’s ranks were  exposed in a series of scandals, such as the murder of Sarah Everard along with the appalling handling of the murders of Bibaa and Nicole, child strip-searches and the damning report into Charing Cross Police Station after WhatsApp messages shared between officers came to light. 

A recent survey shows that less than half of Londoners believe the police are doing a good job. So, the Met not only has to regain the confidence of Londoners but do a lot more to ensure they get the basics right. 

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This is not just a job for the commissioner, but for all levels of leadership in the force’s rank and file. Decisive and robust leadership from the very top must set the direction of travel the force will take.

At City Hall, I, and other Labour Assembly members, will be holding the new commissioner to account and scrutinising his progress in rebuilding Londoners trust in the force, from day one. 

Anne Clarke (Lab) is London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden, and a Barnet councillor for Cricklewood.