The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

  • Sir, I appear, as you know, for a joint (inaudible) the Metropolitan Police Authority and the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.

  • They're really consecutive manifestations of the same organisation.

  • They are indeed, sir.

  • We move from what Mr Jay described in his opening as internal governance to external governance of the MPS.

    The MOPC is the statutory body responsible under the provisions of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act of last year for securing the maintenance of an efficient and effective police force in London and for holding the Commissioner to account for the exercise of his functions and of the functions of all those under his direction and command.

    As you know, the MOPC came into existence as recently as 16 January this year, so that this module of your Inquiry takes place at a very early stages of its, the MOPC's, work. I should say at the outset that the MOPC is grateful for this opportunity to engage with the Inquiry and hopes not only to be able to assist you in your work and give you full co-operation, but also to benefit from the Inquiry's consideration of the questions concerning the governance and the oversight of the MPS which form part of this module.

    In this short opening, I'm not going to deal with any detail in relation to the issues but rather, in a way that I hope will be helpful, to outline the nature and functions of the MOPC and of its predecessor, the MPA, to say something about the way they've gone about their work and then to identify for you some specific areas in relation to which the MPA had and the MOPC has a role to play.

  • Sir, I do that because, of course, in relation to the key events with which you're concerned in this module, it was the MPA which was in place at all material times. But so far as lesson-learning, so far as recommendations coming out of this Inquiry are concerned, it will, of course, be the MOPC.

    Sir, before looking at the two organisations, may I briefly stand back just a little and look at the nature of policing itself and indeed the nature of the police in this country.

    In a democratic country governed by law, policing is by consent, consent of the community. We entrust the police with a considerable degree of authority and a range of powers so that they may enforce the law on our behalf, and with this in mind, it would seem obvious that the police themselves should be accountable to the public or to its representatives for their exercise of those powers, and it's a simple step from that proposition, I'd say, to go on and say that they, the police, should also be accountable within the communities which they serve. Policing in this country has always been and remains, for the most part, a local service.

    That, sir, is the background to the governance arrangements which have been in place now for nearly two centuries, from early oversight by justices of the peace to the watch committees which comprised elected members and also JPs.

    The modern era begins with the Police Act of 1964, by which police authorities were established following the recommendations of a Royal Commission. Those arrangements for county and county borough forces outside London were amended and expanded over the years, culminating in the Police Act of 1996.

    But the fundamental structure for police governance outside London remain the same, and this was the tripartite structure. The authority was one part of the structure in each force area, the chief constable was the second part, with responsibility for operation or policing in the area, and the Home Secretary, of course, set national policing priorities and had overall responsibility for funding, for legislation and for guidance.

    But, sir, turning to the Metropolitan area -- and of course, it is the Metropolitan area of London with which you're principally concerned, not the city police, which has its own arrangements and its own force. The Metropolitan area has always been treated differently.

    For example, under the 1964 Act, it was the Home Secretary who was identified as the police authority for the Met, and that remained the position in 1995 when the Metropolitan Police committee was established to advise the Home Secretary in relation to governance and oversight of the force.

    So too the Metropolitan area was left out of the arrangements made in the 1996 Act for the provincial forces, and it wasn't until 2000, where, by virtue of the Greater London Authority Act of 1999, that the Metropolitan Police Authority came into being.

    Now, sir, you know, I'm sure, that it was that Act which set up the new arrangements for local governance in London and laid the way for the elected mayor. Under that Act, the Metropolitan Police Authority was a statutory body and it was one of the functional bodies of the Greater London Authority.

    Sir, it may, however, be worth noting at this stage that the recommendation which led to the setting up of the Metropolitan Police Authority was a recommendation in fact made by another public inquiry. It was a recommendation made by the Macpherson Inquiry in its report in 1999.

    It may just be worth pointing out that in the evidence you will hear, the impact of that report on the Met is described in vivid terms. It was considerable, and it may well be that the evidence suggests that it was the criticism contained in that report that led to the decision by the then senior management of the MPS to engage much more actively with the media and to seek to establish a new and improved relationship, and that, of course, was the decision that in due course led to the perceived closeness between the MPS and the press, which, as Mr Jay has pointed out, is the topic of interest for you in this module.

    Briefly on the MPA itself, it has 23 members, 12 of whom were members of the assembly and 11 who were appointed, one of whom by the Home Secretary, and its role, in short, was to secure the maintenance of an effective and efficient police service in London and, of course, to hold the Commissioner to account for the delivery of policing and for the management of his force.

    So in London, the tripartite structure consisted of the MPA, the Commissioner and the Home Secretary. Its responsibilities in statute required it to combine oversight, monitoring and regulatory as well as executive functions in relation to the force. For example, it was responsible for strategic planning, for setting policing priorities and performance targets, for the strategic management of the budget, for the appointment of all ACPO-ranked officers save for the Commissioner and his deputy, for dealing with allegations, reports or complaints about their conduct, and finally -- and also importantly for this module -- for providing an effective internal audit service of the force.

    So, sir, you can see, I hope, from that unusual, indeed probably unique range of responsibilities, that the MPA was not a regulator in the conventional or traditional sense. Constitutionally, it was something of an unusual creature, and its members and the secretariat supporting them had to undertake a role which involved advising, directing, understanding and, above all, working with the MPS so as to achieve the joint aim of making the capital a safer city with an efficient and effective police force. Key to this were the relationships between the individuals in the MPA and MPS and in particular the Commissioner and his deputy and the chair and chief executive of the MPA.

    Sir, before leaving the structure of the MPA and its duties, may I stress one point which underpins these rather complex arrangements? It's simple to state it, sometimes it's harder to identify precisely in practice, and that is that the Commissioner was fully operationally independent. That was an acknowledged and a fully recognised bright line between the MPA on the one hand and the Commissioner.

    So far as the work of the MPA in practice was concerned, it was led by the members. There was, understandably perhaps, a committee structure through which the main body of the scrutiny and monitoring work was done. I want to touch on one or two of them of relevance to your module in a moment.

    First, may I mention the full authority meetings, because it was in full authority that the overall responsibility for discharge of the MPA's functions rested. Those meetings took place in public every month and it was full authority that approved the policing plan and the policing budget for submission to the Mayor.

    Importantly, from the point of view of your work, it was in full authority meetings that the Commissioner was held publicly to account. They were, in general, open to the press as well as the public. The Commissioner would report to the members and be questioned by them either responding in the meeting or, when appropriate, in writing afterwards.

    Those are the full authority meetings. So far as the committees which did the bulk of the oversight work, may I mention just two? The first, the strategic and operational policing committee, and the second, the corporate governance committee.

    The first one was responsible, amongst other things, for approval and oversight of operational policing policy, and for ensuring at a strategic level that the policy resulted in improved operational performance and productivity. However, the committee also discharged the MPA's responsibilities for professional standards, which, of course, included the responsibility for dealing with complaints against ACPO-ranked officers.

    Conduct matters were in turn referred to a subcommittee of relevance to this module, called the Professional Standards Cases Subcommittee, or by its snappy acronym, PSCSC, which was responsible for dealing with all ACPO conduct matters, including complaints, allegations or reports, which were handled in accordance with the relevant regulations.

    The corporate governance committee. It was to this committee, sir, that the internal audit department of the MPA reported, and it was here that the MPA's work on the Met's policies, procedures and governance arrangements, for example, in relation to gifts and hospitality, including gifts and hospitality from the media, was undertaken, leading to but by no means ending with the publication online in September last year of the gifts and hospitality registers of all ACPO-ranked officers and other senior employees, and you will have evidence in due course on the history of that process and indeed on the work that still continues.

    May I mention two further points about this phase of the MPS-MPA governance relationship? The first is that neither the Commissioner nor the MPS had a separate or distinct legal personality. As a result, it fell to the MPA to be the contracting party in all MPS agreements, whether with suppliers or members of staff. There was a scheme of delegation by which the Commissioner was given day-to-day management and control of contracts, subject to various established procedures, the details of which are not for now.

    However, when you come, for example, to consider any MPS contracts of relevance to this module, with Mr Wallace's company, Chamy Media, for example, you will see that it is the MPA for these reasons and not the MPS that is the contracting party.

    Finally in relation to contracts and post-retirement employment, the MPA's practice was to require ACPO-ranked officers to sign on appointment some terms and conditions, which included a clause concerning confidentiality, as you'd expect, but which also included a clause which placed a limit on some forms of subsequent employment, for example, with firms or businesses providing services to the MPS or MPA, with the approval of the chief executive of the MPA being required for any such work during the first year.

    There was and is, however, nothing specifically in those terms relating to the media. As you know, both Lord Stevens and Mr Hayman wrote for News International titles after leaving the Met, something which will no doubt be dealt with in their evidence in due course.

  • In relation to the MPA finally, may I sum up the experience, if I can put it that way, over some 11 years as follows: first, by reminding you that at the beginning of the process in 2000, the Met had no experience of rigorous oversight, and I've no doubt that in the early stages there was a sometimes uncomfortable process of adjustment to the new regime on the part of the Met, and some bedding down on the part of the new authority. I'm not going to pretend that there were not some difficult moments in the following years.

    However, it's perhaps fair to say that in a relationship between an organisation and its overseer, a certain amount of tension is not necessarily unhealthy. Indeed, too cosy a relationship would be inappropriate and incompatible with the holding to account which was the MPA's role.

    You may think, sir, when you've heard the evidence in this module that both sides of the relationship benefited from the process and that the relationship between the two organisations grew and matured over the years, which takes me finally, sir, to the new regime, the MOPC. May I first describe it briefly and then flag up some differences between the MPA and the new system.

    The first point to make is, as you know, it's merely one part of a nation-wide change in the arrangements for police governance brought in by the new Police Performance and Social Responsibility Act, which was brought in last year.

    For police forces outside London and in place of police authorities, there will, for the first time, be elected officials, police and crime commissioners, whose roles in each police area will be to hold the Chief Constable to account. They will be in office and undertaking their new functions by November this year, and they in turn will be held to account by police and crime panels for each police area.

    But, as usual, there is a separate regime for the Metropolitan area. The MPA has been replaced, as I've said, by the MOPC, and it falls to the MOPC to secure the maintenance of the Metropolitan Police force and to ensure that the force is sufficient and effective, and, as before with the MPA, to hold the Commissioner to account, not only for the exercise of his functions but also for the functions of all of those under his direction and control. In turn, there will be a committee of the London assembly which has the responsibility to hold the MOPC to account. That's the Police and Crime Committee.

    The Mayor for London is, and I quote, "the occupant, for the time being, of the MOPC". That's section 3(3) of the Act. Of course, for London, these changes are less significant than for the police areas outside the capital because London already has its elected Mayor, and by statute, as I've said, it will be that person who will occupy the MOPC.

    Sir, it follows from that, of course, as you will immediately appreciate, that the successful candidate in the election to be held in May this year will then occupy, or possibly, of course, reoccupy, the MOPC. So in a sense, this current phase of some four months is a brief interim period before the election that takes place at the beginning of May this year.

  • Sir, under the 2011 Act, the Mayor is committed to appoint a Deputy Mayor for policing and crime and the Mayor has nominated a former chair of the authority, the MPA, Mr Malthouse, to that position and to head up the MOPC for all day-to-day purposes. So there's continuity there, as indeed there is, sir, as you will hear in the evidence, in relation to the senior officials. For example, the chief executive of the MPA is now the chief executive of the new body, and the rest of the senior management have transferred to equivalent positions with the MOPC.

    Perhaps more importantly than that, the core functions of the new body are, broadly speaking, the same: oversight, monitoring and regulation. The MOPC is accountable to the London electorate for the overall performance of the MPS, for setting its strategic direction and for allocating resources, and in short, therefore, the MOPC will continue the work of the MPA in relation to the Met.

    So far as these new arrangements are concerned, I should mention that the Home Secretary issued a protocol on 16 January this-year, in which effectively all parties to the new arrangements are told how to go about their work and their new business. I should also note that in paragraph 9 of the protocol the Home Secretary stresses that chief constable, which of course includes the Commissioner, remain operationally independent.

    Can I just flag up two differences, before I close, between the new regime and the old? First, under the new Act, the Commissioner is made a corporation sole, and that enables him, for example, to make contracts, to employ staff and to hold funds. Under the same Act, the MOPC is also a corporation sole, the point being that the delegation system that I mentioned earlier in relation to contracts is no longer necessary.

    Secondly, sir, under the new regime, it will be the Commissioner who appoints all ACPO-ranked officers. He will be responsible, in addition, for all conduct matters in relation to them by amendment to the various conduct relations. The MOPC has a responsibility to monitor all complaints against officers and staff and retains responsibility for complaints against the Commissioner himself.

    So far as the new arrangements are concerned, I hope I don't need to say that the MOPC will, of course, welcome the Inquiry's input into how the new arrangements might best deal with the sorts of issues which gave rise to this Inquiry in the first place, and which are now to be addressed in this module. Indeed, the work of the Inquiry might helpfully inform the approach of the new PCCs in the local force areas --

  • I was just thinking about that, because normally one would expect this sort of dialogue between the Deputy Mayor and the Commissioner to go on in private.

  • I do see there is potential advantage, given that there's been some experience in the Met of greater political involvement than in other parts of the country, in exposing that in this Inquiry so that all might learn.

  • But that might mean ensuring that there's appropriate evidence on that topic --

  • -- to be considered and be subjected to analysis.

  • Yes. Of course our statements, our response to your notices, will deal with these matters.

  • I know you've also served a section 21 notice on the general body, the Association of Police Authorities, and it may be that their more general perspective will be very useful.

  • I'm anxious that as many people get as much assistance from this extremely expensive exercise as can do.

  • Yes. Can I just say two final things?

    As you'd expect, the responses from the MOPC to your notices will also contain comments and responses to both the Filkin and the HMIC reports --

  • -- which have been welcomed by the MOPC and before that the MPA, and in relation to which responsive work is already being undertaken.

    But for present purposes, it suffices to say, I hope, that the MOPC recognises the importance of a positive culture at the top of the Met, established and secured by clear and firm leadership, and believes that the role and example of the Commissioner will be fundamental to the success of the new statutory regime.

    Sir, unless there's any other matter --

  • No, thank you very much indeed. Thank you.

    Right, that's provided a background. I've not heard that any other of the core participants wants to say anything at this stage.