What is probably the final ordinary meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority is in session and Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse AM, Deputy MOPC Presumptive, is NOT in the Chair (he is on paternity leave). Instead, Reshard Auladin, the Deputy Chair, is presiding over what is hardly going to be a quiet somnolent meeting of the Authority.
Apart from the usual items on the agenda, like the Commissioner’s report (will he mention Tasers?), there is also the “Policing London Business Plan” that will lead to a lively (and political – given the approaching Mayoral elections) debate on the gap in the Met’s budget, the Mayor’s instruction to keep police numbers up without the money to do it (apart from £30 million that the Mayor is transferring to the Met from the Fire Service budget, about which the Fire Brigades Union threatened demonstrations outside the MPA meeting), the cutbacks in Safer Neighbourhood Teams and their sergeants etc etc. And the report of the MPA’s Civil Liberties Panel on the DNA database (topical with the Government’s plans to remove potential rapists and others from the database) is also to be discussed.
But the meeting has started with a question submitted by Samantha Rigg-David on behalf of the United Families and Friends Campaign about the procession down Whitehall on Saturday 29th October in remembrance of those who have died in custody or state care and what the Campaign says was the disproportionate, aggressive and degrading treatment the families received from the Police after the procession had handed in a letter to 10 Downing Street. Shortly after the 29th, I had heard about the incidents referred to in the question and had asked for a briefing from the Met about what had happened. I never received a response, so the answer to the public question is the first time that the Met has given their version of events.
That version was rather different to that of the questioner. However, the Commissioner gave an undertaking personally to review the CCTV material of the incident and to communicate directly with those involved. Surprisingly (given the fact that similar events have been organised over the last thirteen years), it was suggested that there had been a failure of communication between the organisers of the demonstration and the police.
What is not clear is how easily such issues will be aired and pursued once the MPA is abolished.