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The police should fight crime - not waste time at London Assembly committee meetings

2012 should be the year that police accountability arrives. This should mean real accountability, with chief constables who fail to fight crime effectively, facing the sack by the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners.

But it should also mean the end of all the fake, box ticking, time wasting, politically correct "accountability" of the police.  The end of going along to Police Authority meetings where police officers listen politely to worthy queries from committee members - all keen to show they have read lots of meaningless reports.

The Police and Crime Committee of the London Assembly got a culture shock yesterday when the Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, pitched up - but made clear to those present that he had advised the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, that turning up to these long monthly meetings would be an inappropriate waste of police time.

Mr Greenhalgh said:

I am concerned that there are only 200 work days. If he comes to every single one of these that is five working days. His primary role is to keep London safe.

Cue lots of self important indignation from the committee members about how tremendously worthwhile it was for the commissioner to come and listen to their whinging and whining.

If they came up with constructive ideas for reducing crime they might have a point. Mr Greenhalgh made it clear that if any of them had any sensible ideas he would be pleased to hear them - but he wasn't interested in all the theatre.

Unfortunately, as with other London Assembly meetings, their proceedings are characterised by point scoring, ego trips, procedural wrangling, and self indulgence. Typically yesterday's meeting spent half an hour on procedure before getting down to business.

The London Assembly costs over £8 million a year. That is a scandalous waste of money for a worthless talking shop. If it were scrapped, that money could pay for another 300 police officers on the streets of London. Glen Goodman of ITV's London Tonight might regard that as a terrible change - but I am not sure how many Londoners would agree with him.


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