Politics

Met clash with ministers over gender-based crime



T

he Met was plunged into a row on Friday over the recording of gender-based hate crimes after senior officers expressed scepticism over the initiative.

The Government has announced that police forces will be asked “on an experimental basis” from the autumn to record crimes of violence motivated by the victim’s sex or gender.

It follows a campaign to make misogyny a hate crime which received huge support following the murder of Sarah Everard. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s election manifesto also called for misogyny to be classified in that way.

However, the Met stressed it wanted to “focus on the real, tangible impacts that will help women in London feel safer and better protected” and that it would speak up if it felt a “proposal may only add to the bureaucracy of crime reporting”.

A transcript from a meeting at London’s City Hall revealed senior levels of the Met are sceptical about the proposal which is already being trialled by other police forces. The Met’s deputy commissioner Sir Stephen House suggested that scepticism expressed by Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick in 2016 over the idea had not changed.

He added: “Simply because something appears in the Mayor’s manifesto does not mean that it will translate into operational policing.

“The Mayor sets strategy for us but he does not decide operational matters. That is for the commissioner to do. She has made her position clear on this.”

At the meeting last month, Sir Stephen also said assistant commissioner Louisa Rolfe needed to be “convinced” on the matter and did not believe it is “necessarily the right step”.

He added: “With those two powerful women having those views, the Met is waiting to understand what the proposals are before we respond in any way.”

However, Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow who led the campaign, said: “The evidence of the effectiveness of this approach in others parts of the UK in helping tackle violence against women is clear.

“Londoners voted for the Mayor, they didn’t vote for the Commissioner. Yet here is her office being explicit that manifesto pledges don’t matter and she knows better.”

Ms Creasy said the Met’s attitude will “do little” to improve women’s confidence in the force. Labour London Assembly member Unmesh Desai has written to the Mayor, stressing: “I expect the Mayor’s manifesto pledges, upon which Londoners elected him, to be implemented by the Met who have made it clear they are against it and are dragging their heels.”

Labour London Assembly member Unmesh Desai has written to the Mayor on the issue, stressing: “I expect the mayor’s manifesto pledges, upon which Londoners elected him, to be implemented by the Met who quite frankly have made it clear they are against and are dragging their heels over this.”

In a statement to the Standard, the Met said: “We are committed to doing all we can to protect women from crime, particularly where it is motivated by misogyny or any form of hatred, and we’re working closely with the Mayor.

“Any scepticism about new methods of recording is only a reflection of our desire to focus on the real tangible impacts that will help women in London feel safer and better protected, where we think a proposal may only add to the bureaucracy of crime reporting.

“It is right that we are open with partners about those concerns. We await details from the Home Office on any changes to reporting processes.”

The Mayor emphasised that we all have a “duty” to tackle misogyny, adding: “We need to prevent male violence rather than simply respond to it.”

The Home Office said it was working with the Met on recording gender-based hate crimes and hoped to have it up and running in the “near future”.

It added that it was not the Government’s “current policy” to make misogyny a hate crime but it had asked the Law Commission to conduct a review.



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