Gavin Lockhart is Head of the Crime and Justice Unit at Policy Exchange. The think-tank has covered police reform in a range of its reports including Manifesto for the Met, Footing the Bill and Fitting the Bill. Policy Exchange published Million Vote Mandate in conjunction with Localis earlier this year.
Despite a fall in some crime rates in London over the past decade, people still feel threatened by what they believe are escalating problems associated with antisocial behaviour by disruptive youths and violent crime in their neighbourhoods. And in common with many, Londoners feel that there is a general lack of respect, discipline and leadership whether at home, in schools or on the city's streets. The yearly cost of crime is still £400 for every Londoner - increased accountability and greater pressure on local authorities would help cut this bill.
Four weeks ago Sir Ian Blair angrily denied that he was being ousted from his job as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. But although police insiders were surprised by the timing of the statement, Blair's resignation was increasingly likely after he lost the confidence of the public, his senior commanders and the Mayor of London. The Acting Commissioner's in-tray is testing: the inquest into the death of Mr de Menezes and investigation of claims that Blair influenced the award of contracts worth 3 million will both be completed in the next few months.
But this is not just a story of one man's failure to do his job properly. It is about a system that is broken. London needs a new Police Commissioner who will reform the Met and the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA). With a workforce of nearly 30,000 officers, 14,000 police staff and a large share of the national policing budget, the Metropolitan Police Service is amongst the most challenging and complex organisations in the nation to manage. But it is also overly bureaucratic (in 2005/6 the force spent £122 million on "non-incident related paperwork"), top heavy and has a poor record of delivery.