This week’s three topics show the wide range of work I’ve been covering at the London Assembly.
Restoring confidence in the Met Police
Apprenticeships - why they’re so important
ULEZ and Road Charging
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Ultra Low Emission Zone and Road Charging
This fascinating map shows car ownership across London. It shows exactly why the Mayor’s plan to expand ULEZ from inner London to the whole of London is so unpopular here in outer London.
In the blue areas most households own a car, in the pink areas most don’t. At the moment, ULEZ mainly covers the pink area in the middle. If you feel that inner Londoners living car-free lives with great public transport are dictating transport policy to the rest of us, this map shows that you may have a point.
I described last week what the London Mayor’s plan is, so a quick reminder that his consultation on expanding his ULEZ zone and future road charging closes on the 29th July.
This week, broadcaster Andrew Neil gave a fascinating keynote speech to Make UK, the UK manufacturing trade body. You can still watch it on YouTube. He explains why apprenticeships are vital for our future, something we researched at the Assembly earlier this year.
Andrew’s analysis is this: companies are struggling to find the right people, and in the coming years this is going to be the biggest single problem for all employers. The ones that get it right will win big. But the world has had 20+ years of cheap, plentiful labour after eastern Europe and China joined the global economy. Employers have found it easy to import workers, to export factories and call centres overseas, and to keep wages low. But that’s over. The world is shifting from a glut of workers to a shortage and we need to adapt.
I think he is right. I think that companies will struggle to solve their staff and skills shortage by bringing people from other countries, because those other countries will have a shortage of their own. We have to get serious about apprenticeships, serious about training people with the skills we need.
As Chair of the London Assembly Economy Committee, I’m proud of the work I led on apprenticeships and the report we published: You’re Hired: A Bright Future for Apprenticeships in London.
I met one young man on an apprenticeship to become a quantity surveyor. Often a degree-track career, he was already getting on-the-job experience working several days per week on a huge rail project, alongside his classroom study. By the time he qualifies, he’ll already have years of hands-on experience.
We made a number of detailed recommendations to improve the way the government’s Apprenticeship Levy works, which you can read in the report summary.
But the big things we found were that the levy needs to work better for small and medium companies, it needs to focus more on young people, we need more joined-up thinking so the courses lead to jobs by providing the skills employers need, and overall we need more awareness among schools, employers, and young people of the opportunities that apprenticeships bring. The last of those I hope I’m doing in this newsletter!
Restoring confidence in the Met Police
You’ll have seen the news that the Metropolitan Police is in “special measures”. Scrutinising the Met Police is one of our biggest jobs on the London Assembly, on the Police and Crime Committee we’ve been looking at how to restore public trust and confidence.
One big problem is dealing with police complaints and removing bad officers. On this, we’ve quizzed the Met’s most senior officers, the Police Federation who represent rank and file officers, and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). We’ve also heard at length from Matt Parr CB, HM Inspector of Constabulary responsible for inspecting the Met Police. Finally, I’ve spoken privately to a number of police officers to understand their view.
What strikes me is that those different groups are all saying the same thing: it is too difficult to remove bad officers and, whatever the end result, the whole process takes too long. The status quo isn’t working for anyone.
The IPCC is the fourth attempt to create an outside body to handle police complaints, going back to the Police Complaints Board in 1977. To me, the reorganisations and name changes are a red flag that this isn’t a new problem and so far no one’s managed to crack it.
Having taken evidence, we’re now weighing up our conclusions and recommendations. However, my personal view is that the police complaints process needs to get five things right and currently seems to be struggling on all of them:
Dismiss police officers for serious wrongdoing.
Support improvement where officers make less serious errors.
Give confidence to the public that police misconduct is dealt with.
Provide a fair hearing to accused officers, because complaints can be false or malicious.
Promptly resolve complaints one way or the other.
Some of these are difficult judgements, such as what’s serious wrongdoing and what’s a correctable mistake. And there’s always going to be a trade-off between resolving cases quickly and maintaining confidence by resolving them correctly and fairly.
But right now, complaints frequently drag on for years, leaving officers in limbo, and yet neither the public nor the police themselves seem to have have confidence in the results. So I’m optimistic that there is room for some improvement.
Inside City Hall podcast
If you listen to podcasts (like online radio shows) I co-host Inside City Hall with Nick Rogers. We discuss what’s happening in City Hall, what the Mayor is up to, and what’s going on across London. Nick is the Conservative Assembly Member for Hounslow, Kingston, and Richmond.