The Metropolitan Police Authority is in session. Mayor Boris Johnson is in the Chair, but the Uber Vice Chair Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse AM (the UVCDMKMAM) is not at his side yet (he is running late), so the Mayor is flying without lights (and no hand on his tiller).
First business is a petition calling on the Metropolitan Police to retain its dedicated specialist unit dedicated to to combating the crime of human trafficking. It is being presented by Mary Honeyball, a Labour Member of the European Parliament since 2000. As she takes her seat to present it, it is clear that Mayor Johnson has never heard of her (or possibly the European Parliament, as John Biggs AM comments sotto voce that he thought that under the Mayor’s administration London was seceding from the European Union).
The issue is a proposal is to disband the human trafficking unit and to mainstream its activities in the work of the 32 Borough Command Units with the specialists in the unit being transferred to the central Clubs and Vice command. There are fears that this is in reality a cost-cutting exercise, that expertise will be lost and that the focus of the work in practice prioritising one type of trafficking (prostitution) at the expense of others (eg forced labour and domestic servitude). Mayor Boris Johnson looks uneasy throughout the discussion. He clearly recognises the importance of the issue and perhaps is unhappy at the direction that seems to be being taken within the Metropolitan Police on how to deal with human trafficking.
The Commissioner promises that a report will come to the Authority after his Management Board has reached its conclusions. I ask the Mayor whether he (or the UVCDMKMAM) has given a touch on the tiller steer to the Commissioner on the direction being taken. The Mayor responds that he is keen to ensure “the maximum efficiency and effectiveness of work on human trafficking in the run up to the Olympics”. The Commissioner smiles, so clearly he thinks that’s the right answer. We’ll have to wait and see what it means.