The Metropolitan Police Authority is in session and the DCiC* and PSPCC**, Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse AM, is in the Chair. And he’s in a sober mood, following his proposal that London (population 8,000,000 in an area of 600 square miles) should emulate South Dakota (population 800,000 in an area of 77,000 square miles) – yes, really – and insist that anyone convicted of an alcohol-related crime should be required to go to a police station twice a day and take a breath-test and be sent back to prison if they fail it.
He mentioned the proposal at the end of his lengthy oral report. (It was 12 minutes – thought to be a record – during which he dealt with so many operational matters that the Commissioner went all tense, shredded a paper clip and then folded his arms tightly.)
I asked – innocent that I am – what this meant in terms of the MPA’s programme to close/rationalise front-counter services in police stations and, given the Met’s less than perfect record in the past on catching up with people who fail to meet their bail conditions, what the implications would be on police officer time. Other members had clearly heard the Today programme too and John Biggs AM pointed out that in South Dakota they elect dog-catchers too.
The PSPCC clearly thought MPA members were taking the p*ss and wanted us to know that this was a serious proposal, but also acknowledged that none of the details had been worked out or even thought about/this was all at a very early stage. He did suggest that offenders would not necessarily be required to go to police stations to be tested (not clear what the alternative might be – foyer of City Hall?) and that the testing could be done by college students (helping pay their new higher tuition fees).
Despite James Cleverly AM trying to suggest that this was NOT a matter for the MPA as this was an initiative from the Mayoral team and the PSPCC had not been speaking as Chair of the MPA, the PSPCC did agree to report back in more detail after Christmas.
**Putative Surrogate Policing and Crime Commissioner