18 July 2023

Counter-terrorism tactics used against predators who attack women

18 July 2023

Police tactics used against terrorists are being deployed to catch the 100 worst predators targeting women in London.

Metropolitan Police officers have started using the Cambridge Crime Harm Index to assess 35,000 offenders reported to the force each year for crimes against women and girls, to rank the 100 who pose the highest risk to the public.

The tactic is being used as the troubled force works to rebuild its reputation after a series of scandals and a savage review by Baroness Louise Casey that found it was racist, misogynist and homophobic.

Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said: “It’s taking the organised crime or terrorism approach to male predatory violence.”

Speaking in an interview on Monday he said: “If we go after them proactively, build a case against them, get them off the streets, that protects women and children in London, so that’s an indicator of something more innovative, more front-footed, and how we reform how we police London.”

Plans to overhaul the force, a £366 million two-year scheme dubbed A New Met for London, are being launched with visits to every borough in the English capital, starting in Peckham on Monday.

Bosses say there will be an increased emphasis on neighbourhood policing in a bid to rebuild public trust.

Some 240 officers out of the Met’s total workforce of around 34,000 will be moved from central to local teams.

There are also plans to recruit 500 more community support officers (PCSOs) and an extra 565 people to work with teams investigating domestic abuse, sexual offences and child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Each borough will have at least one front counter open 24 hours a day under the proposals.

I'm concerned that some of our officers, particularly our community officers, aren't within walking distance of their patch

During austerity from 2010 onwards, local borough teams were cut so that between two and four boroughs were covered by one basic command unit.

Deputy Commissioner Dame Lynne Owens said: “I think there was a risk in making those choices.

“We did step away from the local and we recognise the need to have more of a geographical focus.”

Asked in an interview if people would see more officers on the beat and more police stations opening, Sir Mark replied “all of those things”.

He added that it was “not acceptable” that some community officers are not within walking distance of their patch.

Sir Mark added: “One of the strands of our plan is called ‘fixing foundations’, getting all the basic engineering, in terms of training and equipment for officers right, as a part of that we’re looking again at our estate strategy.

“I’m concerned that some of our officers, particularly our community officers, aren’t within walking distance of their patch, that’s not acceptable, so that’s why we’re looking at that.

“So it all comes back to that cornerstone, the community policing team, dedicated ward officers, the PCSOs – we’re increasing them by 500 this year – that team, the relationship with local community, knowing what the big issues are, fixing them and calling in the specialists behind them when they need them.”

There have been a series of scandals around the culture in the Met, including the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, Pc David Carrick being exposed as a serial rapist, and two officers being jailed for sharing pictures of the bodies of two murder victims.

Sir Mark, who previously said there were hundreds of officers in the Met who should have been kicked off the force, said bosses are “sacking and suspending more officers than ever before”.

He added: “I’ve got a minority of my people I need to sort out, and we’re doing that as rapidly and as quickly as we can do.”

The rate of domestic burglaries now being attending by a police officer across the Met’s area has risen to “somewhere high in the 90%”, compared with 50% last year, Sir Mark added.

But he said “funding is an issue” in terms of the pace of change people want, and added that a 27% increase in funding is required to match 2012 levels in real terms, an additional £878 million investment.

Asked if he will stick to the September deadline to stop answering emergency 999 calls about mental health, he said there are “really constructive round-table conversations taking place with NHS partners” and they will be going ahead in the autumn “on or around September 1”.

He added: “I should reassure Londoners, if somebody is in danger, if someone’s at physical risk, there’s always a role for police officers to turn up and deal with that immediate threat of violence, so we’re not going to back away from that.

“If the cause of that violence though is someone in a mental health crisis, what we need to be able to do, which is in line with national policy and NHS policy, is hand over that individual that is in crisis to the NHS as quickly as possible.”

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