Friday, 17 February 2012

Bernard Hogan-Howe - Commissioner WebChat epic fail (via @LSGDOTCOM )

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(All content below is from: 

This morning at 10:30am the Met Police commissioner conducted a web chat about the police's new focus on tackling gangs.

The transcript is below with some annotation. As you will notice it was again a farce with the commissioner unwilling to provide any real answers. It was used as an opportunity for self-promotion of the Met and its policies. When BHH took over at the Met he said he was 'no-ones political lackie' - but we now know that is not true.

The Webchat Transcript:

Host@MPS: Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe will be joining us shortly to take your questions about the Met's new focus on tackling gangs. Submit your questions now

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Morning everyone, thanks for joining during this webchat on gangs. I look forward to answering your questions.

#AskMetBoss Does the use of joint enterprise have a place in the Met’s current strategy tackling gangs. If so, in what way? [via Twitter]

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Thanks @Justice4Jon. Good question, we will be using Joint Enterprise in the gangs strategy - for those who are unaware this means that you can be arrested and convicted for murder even if you were not there at the scene, if you were involved in the conspiracy or act in anyway.

We are committed to educating young people on joint enertprise, this is demonstrated through our recent interactive campaign we launched to highlight such consequences is ‘Choose a Different Ending’. Click here to see it:

LSG COMMENT - Does not answer question. Maybe he will answer the next one?

alastairtaylor1: Is there anyway in your opinion or from what you have seen that communities can do to prevent gangs from forming?
#AskMetBoss [via Twitter]

Commissioner Hogan-Howe:
 Good question @Alastairtaylor1. Our strategy will involved two parts. First to enforce the law to gang members and prosecute them where we can. Or if they are prepared to be helped, then we will divert them to activities that may prevent their offending. Both will only work with the support of the communities who can give us intelligence about who is in the gang and where we might find evidence.

Gangs will find it difficult to operate if local people stand up and provide evidence in court and intelligence which the police can use. We also work with partners such as church groups in our fight against gangs.

LSG COMMENT: Again, no intention of answering the question. Does not say what communities can do to prevent gangs, just advises that we shop young people to the police, bearing in mind this step would come long after they had joined a gang. Enforcement all the way by the sounds of it...

Comment From Ben Mnyama How do you hope to measure the success of the new Trident Gang Unit

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Thanks Ben, we believe there are around 250 gangs in London of which 62 are the most serious criminals. They have 4,800 members, we will see by the end of the year how many we have arrested and prosecuted or how many we have diverted away from criminality. I doubt we will arrest all of them this year, but we will see progress in the next 12 months.

LSG COMMENT: Seriously, what kind of strategy is this? We'll see how many we can arrest and prosecute and how many we can divert. Were the Met supposed to advocate SMART objectives, according to their own internal propaganda (find much of it at What is smart or achievable about this? The Met have no control of the CJS and don't control the majority of diversions, so basically achieving this objective is beyond their control. Much of the same then.

Comment From Kelly Following on from the stop and search discussion previously, what powers will be given to police in areas which are known for gang-related incidents? It concerns me that the police are doing too much to please the press, and not enough to stop crime.

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hi Kelly, I want us to have effective and intelligent use of stop and search which targets criminals. That mean that we should be targeting gang members therefore stop and search should help us with our gang strategy. However, I do want to reduce the repeated number of stop searches of innocent people who have done nothing wrong.

LSG COMMENT: Cheek. Basically #AskMetBoss says if you're innocent you should only expect to be stopped and searched once. Just improve your intelligence and stop 'Stop & Searching' innocent people. Simply having "IC3" as your intelligence is not good enough excuse.

Comment From Lee Jasper The relationship with the MPS and Londons Black communities is the worst I've seen in 30 years. You have fatally compromised Trident by allowing the Mayor to politically hijack the good work and community partnerships delivered by Trident. The MPS has lost the confidence of black communities through massive year on year increases in stop and search and controversial deaths in police custody. How are you going to repair and restore confidence.?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hello Lee, I disagree with almost everything you have said. I hope you will be able to help us in our fight to stop gang members hurting people, they appear responsible for 1 in 4 serious violence cases, half of the shootings, 1 in 5 robberies and 1 in 6 rapes. Surely we need to work together to stop that? This is building on the good work of Trident, rather than compromising it, I believe it is better to confront the problem rather than ignore it. I am interested in crime fighting, not elections.

LSG COMMENT: via Twitter @LeeJasper #AskMetBoss just answered your Q in a way that blames the entire gang problem on one single race.

Comment From Meryl #AskMetBoss have you seen an increase in gang violence, and do you think that it is linked to current climate of unemployment, financial difficulties and low opportunity? If so, is putting these people at risk of jail really going to have a long-term impact on gang crime or is just a plaster covering up a wider-scale wound?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hi Meryl, I arrived in London as Commissioner in Sept 2011. Many people I talk to told me that for 3-4 years people have been worried about gangs. In my view that would be foolish to ignore that. If that is true this problem started before the recession, I do not know whether it has got worse as a result of our economic difficulties, I do know we have to do something about it. Realy whatever the cause we have to deal with it.

LSG COMMENT: Many people you talk to? Who? Are you referring to Boris, Kit and all them other "gang experts" who come from the ends? Or did you read a Daily Mail headline.

Comment From We_love_Tottenham Changing gang culture will require going back to schools, get to know the kids BEFORE the gangs get them. Have local officers who interact with kids not been considered? I live in tottenham and could not tell you the name of one policeman in my area. we feel detached from the authorites, not protected as we should do

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Thanks for your question, I'm sorry you feel like that. we do have many police officer and PCSOs who work with the schools and neighbourhoods. In fact we have just put an extra 50 police officers into Haringey to help with that work. We also have dedicated officers who are based in schools. Sounds like you would like to work more with the police and here you can find contact for your local team:

LSG COMMENT: Look, you serve us, we pay for your service. You should therefore be making an effort to come and engage with us, not sitting there saying there are no problems waiting for us to come and get you. It's called being pro-active, a word often tossed about by the Met Police but rarely tried in reality.

Comment From Becky
It would seem the problem with gangs is the lack of respect for police. How are you going to get that respect back

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hi Becky, I believe the police gain respect by building trusting relationships with the public who in turn pass on their concerns and intelligence about those committing crime. Then the police go out and arrest them. Provided the police act reasonably and within the law then we can build respect with the public for the police.

In addition we do a huge amount of work with young people to jointly tackle gangs and last Wednesday a lot of young people joined us to show their support for the new gang approach.

LSG COMMENT: Again, suggesting that the only thing the community should be doing is shopping young people so they can arrest them.

Comment From Carol Stewart Sacryd Do you believe that enforcement led approaches to tackling the problem with gangs will work? what about preventative measures?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hello Carol, my earlier answer did explain that we will be working as hard on diversion as we are on enforcement. This will include local authorities, charities, churches and any partner who is willing to help us implement our gangs strategy.

LSG COMMENT: Another clear avoidance of the question posed

Comment From PCB Who are the new gang unit accountable to? How do you monitor potential for corruption when they start to uncover money/drugs at the higher level of these gangs?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Thanks for your question, the gang unit are accountable in the Met to Commander Steve Rodhouse and I am accountable to the Mayor for the Met. We have an independent advisory group who work with Trident unit who continue with the new work. we have a professional standards dept who carry out covert operations and to any allegations of corruption. The vast majority of our officers have integrity and carry out their jobs in a professional way.

LSG COMMENT: So, this new Trident gang is accountable to THE POLICE (Steve Rodhouse) and THE POLICE (professional standards department), but NOT DIRECTLY accountable to the community it serves or the Mayor (who is going to support everything wholeheartedly as he influenced this rubbish).

Comment From Guest How does the Met compile its data on the number of gangs in London? If it uses online resources, and there is evidence to suggest that it does, how does it confirm that information correct?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hello, we have a number of sources, but namely from community intelligence. That means people tell us who is in the gangs that includes criminals telling us and gang members too. Not sure about the online sources, but we do know that very committed organisations make their own assessment how many gangs there are and how dangerous they are. We take this into consideration in our own assessments.

LSG COMMENT: Someone doesn't really know the answer to this question.

Comment From TiMg Carrying a knife or weapon- we constantly hear that this carries a custodial sentence, when we know in pratice it doesn- many kids say they carry them only as a deterrent. As a father of a law-abiding teenage son what would you recommend he does to protect himself..?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: TiMg, my advice is to never carry a knife or to join a gang. Evidence shows that those who carry knives or who are in a gang are more likely to become a victim of crime.

If you would like some more help for your son, you may want to look at our website for young people:

LSG COMMENT: Bit more self-promotion of the Met. That evidence shows comment...many people are more likely to have been victimised before choosing to carry a knife for protection, so that's misleading. Anyway, we have a web link to answer this..

Comment From Keren What are you doing to protect young witnesses? Will you pledge that they won't be let down as reported this week? And do you think it right that they will not be able to get legal aid to sue for damages if things go wrong?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Thanks for your question Keren. This week's awful example occurred in 2005 since then the Met and CPS have learnt a lot. We have a excellent system in place for protecting vulnerable witnesses. It is not easy but witnesses should feel confident in coming forward with evidence in the court system and we will protect them.

LSG COMMENT: They cannot guarantee protection.

#AskMetBoss How can you make a difference with communities that mistrust you so much? What are you going to do to improve this? [via Twitter]

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Thanks for your question. I think there are three other things that we need to concentrate on 1. Firstly improve neighbourhood policing 2. Get better at stop and search 3. Our youth engagement strategy needs to be bolder. All of this is hard work with a population of 7.5 million, but we can do it.

LSG COMMENT: Yes, the commissioner is due another coffee break so no time to answer this question, just spout some mitigating factor regarding the population. But we thought there were only 4,800 gang members (0.06% of London's population)

Comment From lisa Local grassroots projects in the heart of the community that use strong mentors to work with young people, seem to have good impact. What do you feel you can learn from them?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hi Lisa, we will try to build these into our gangs strategy. We will make every effort to match individual gang members with the right scheme for them. Part of our approach is making sure we work with a range of different agencies to find the right solution to help a gang member leaving that lifestyle. Mentoring schemes have proved to be very effective.

LSG COMMENT: We will TRY and build them into our gangs strategy? TRY? How about we WILL. And you SHOULD be.

Comment From Dave What is the definition you work to of a gang?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hello Dave, in my view a gang is any group of criminals who act together to commit crime or intimidate people. You will see more complex definitions, but for me that is the heart of it. We need to concentrate on the gangs that commit most serious crime. it is natural for people to group together, football teams, churches and normal friendships - obviously we are not trying to criminalise normal behaviour, particularly young people. We are targeting criminals.

LSG COMMENT: Targeting criminals, or criminalising youths? Not all gang members commit crime, even in the periphery of some of the most serious gangs.

Comment From Marisa How do you plan on tackling gangs when the causes are due to identity or inclusion issues? Are there going to be any strategies put in place to try and replicate those issues, when families are not an when other services are turning a blind eye?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hello Marisa, we want to divert young people away from crime. We will prioritise those who want help, particularly when they have had a difficult start in life and remain in difficult circumstances. However, we have to stop criminals hurting other people and sometimes that will mean arresting and prosecuting them.

#askmetboss How will MET partner with VCS organisations like us who work directly with gang members/those on peripheries of gang membership? [via Twitter]

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: We have launched our squad and it will develop more over the next year. As I said earlier we want to match the gang members with the right schemes. During the next 12months our work can act as a catalyst for lots of local schemes, please keep an eye on our sites to see how you can work with us in future.

LSG COMMENT: No no no, you should be looking to work with the community, not expecting them to come and link with you. You are the ones who want the trust of the community so you should be working to build it and proving that your efforts are sincere.

Comment From TiMg Police have plenty of powers to restrict travel/congregation/and social activity via section 60/banning orders used on football fans0 why cant you do this with gangs?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: You're right a core principle of our enforcement strategy will be to stop the gang members meeting together or communicating. They are more intimidating as a group, so we will split them up and deal with them.

LSG COMMENT: Why? Can't you just stop them offending and encourage them into pro-social activities in their friendship group. Splitting them up and taking away their support network is not the best strategy...

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: I'm afraid that was the last question. Thank you to everybody for their questions and taking the time to view. We have launched the gangs strategy, but the hard work now starts. It may take a few years, but we will get rid of many of these gangs and their criminality.

LSG COMMENT: An hour is plenty, on a £260k salary that hour has cost us approximately over £100.