Today Londoners are going to the polls to elect a new Mayor. This May, the powers and responsibilities of the Mayoral office are going to greatly increase. One of the more influential roles to be given to the next Mayor of London will be that of the Police and Crime Commissioner. The rest of England and Wales will be directly electing Police Commissioners on the 15th of November.
The role of the Police and Crime commissioner is going to be very powerful. Whoever is elected will be responsible for setting policing priorities in their district and for holding the chief constable to account.
The possibility to campaign locally on policing issues provides an unprecedented opportunity for drug policy reformers and all other activists who are concerned about policing to influence the implementation of the law in this country.
This is an opportunity citizens and residents to directly influence the implementation of drugs policy on a regional basis.
We are under no illusions that there is the danger of authoritarian and populist commissioners getting elected and we should be prepared to hold them to account.
As a non-partisan organisation, we do not favour one political party over another. However we will hold representatives who support repressive drug policies to account and praise those who take a more pragmatic approach. Whether the next Mayor of London is in favour of retaining or reducing stop and search, we will work with the London assembly to hold them to account.
Indeed the policing policy of the next Mayor of London will greatly impact on community cohesion in the capital and set the tone for which crimes are prioritised by the Met.
We have researched the Stop and Search policies of the various Mayoral candidates and here they are:
Boris Johnson, Conservative Candidate.
We also need to look at stop and search. It is well known that this form-filling is time consuming and keeps police officers off the streets. Stop and searches should still be recorded by an officer, who will radio in essential details of the search – thereby allowing them to be recorded without the extra burden of having to fill in a form at the scene and a further form back at the station.
No mention of reducing stop and search. He wants to reduce paper work involved in recording stop and search.
Ken Livingstone, Labour Party Candidate.
p12 Crime and policing manifesto
Community led policing and a force that looks like London
I will work with the Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, to continue his good work and that of his predecessors in creating a police force that looks more like London and is open to all of the Capital’s talents.
In the aftermath of the long-overdue conviction of two of Stephen Lawrence’s murderers we can reflect that policing has come a long way since the MacPherson report identified institutionalised racism. But as Doreen Lawrence observed after the trial: “The fact is that racism and racist attacks are still happening in this country and the police should not use my son’s name to say that we can move on”. That is why I particularly welcome the review into stop-and-search announced by the Commissioner. Current practice is wasteful and counterproductive, with an arrest rate of only six in one hundred people stopped, and an even lower conviction rate. It has disproportionately targeted young black and Asian men, most of whom were not engaged in criminal activity and, therefore, risked alienating entire communities.
In favour of ending blanket stop and search.
Earlier on in the campaign, SSDP London Member Theo Scheiner asked Ken a question about Stop and Search for Drug Offences at the ULU Hustings.
Here is his answer:
Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat Candidate.
High standards for police
Better stop and search.
We will stop police targeting innocent people and accurately target the power on criminals.
Stopping people just because they are from minority ethnic communities destroys trust and wastes time that could be better spent targeting real criminals
A new independent public commissioner for standards. We will create a policing ombudsman for London to enforce tough and clear standards of conduct over behaviours that have brought the police into disrepute, such as abusing stop and search, racist attitudes and corrupt relations with the media
Around half a million stop and searches are carried out in London each year. Taking into account the relative ethnic populations, Black people are 4.4 times more likely to be stopped than White people and Asian people twice as likely
Driving out racism
The police must focus on criminals and avoid targeting innocent people. Brian Paddick will take away the power to stop and search from any officers who misuse it. They will face re-training and disciplinary action. Stopping and searching people just because they are black or from minority ethnic communities destroys trust and wastes time that could be better spent targeting real criminals
In favour of ending blanket stop and search. Will take away stop and search powers from officers who misuse it.
Jenny Jones, Green Party Candidate.
End the arbitrary, race-based, blanket use of stop and search and other tactics that alienate the communities the police most need to work with, and introduce independent oversight of stop and search powers.
In favour of ending blanket stop and search. Supports independent review of implementation.
Siobhan Benita, Independent.
Live London Mayoral Q&A Transcript: Independent candidate Siobhan Benita
Siobhan Benita: I have said that I would have the external, independent review of the Met Police that so many people have been calling for for a long time. It would address efficiency issues (the Met will need to do more with less over coming years so must get smarter in the way they use their officers and staff) but, crucially, it would also examine the cultural issues that need urgent consideration, including allegations of racism, relationship with the press, use of stop and search and treatment of people in custody. All of these issues must be looked at by an independent team, to include representatives from the public and communities, and I would act on the recommendations of the review.
Supports independent, external review of the Metropolitan Police.