A new report by the respected Home Affairs Select Committee has suggested moving CT policing responsibility away from the Met and to the new National Crime Agency when it is set up. It argues this on the grounds that this would reduce political interference in the affairs of the Met, important in the light of the phone hacking scandal.
While in theory it might make sense for many of the ‘national’ responsibilities of the Met to be taken on either by a national agency or by individual police forces, in reality the shift is not straightforward. The Met has built up significant expertise in the area of CT and I fear that this would be lost in the bureaucratic re-organisation. Knowledge sits in the heads of individuals, relationships are built between specific people, and organisational cultures play a role in embedding certain working approaches that contribute to success. None of these things can be simply packed in a box, moved to another office, and put to work in a new setting.
The Met has done a fantastic job of keeping London and the UK safe from the threat of terrorism in the last 10 years. No-one doubts the importance of an independent police force, but playing around with CT policing is not the way to go about getting it.
No decisions will be made until the London Olympic Games have taken place. Let’s hope a more sensible approach can be found in the meantime.