Mr Dovaston


Letter to Mr Dovaston


Saturday January 8, 2000

Sir Paul Condon, the Metropolitan police commissioner, yesterday launched a pre-emptive strike against a home office report that is expected to criticise the Met's ineffectiveness in countering racial crime and in investigating murders.

However, he made it clear that he had little confidence in the authors of the report, David Blakey, a former West Mercia chief constable, and Don Dovaston, assistant chief constable of Derbyshire, since their experience had been in provincial forces. They had failed to take into account the special conditions of London, and had refused to provide the Met with a "benchmark" by comparing its performance with other European cities, he said.

Conceding the report would criticise the Met's clear-up rate for murders, and the resources available for investigations, Sir Paul said the Met had led police forces nationally in drawing up a murder manual for detectives. "The [Met's officers] have done a terrific job with limited resources," he said, repeating several times that the Met had lost 6,000 officers during his tenure.

Mr Johnstone said the Met had to deal with 25% of UK murders, and a proportionately higher number of murders by strangers and by shooting. He talked of London's transient populations, its deprived boroughs, and the huge public order and civil emergency events the Met was required to police.

Mr O'Connor produced the latest statistics on racial incidents, showing a fourfold increase in 1999. He agreed that the clear-up rate - 20% to 23% - had not improved. The report is expected to say that, though the Met is a "beacon of excellence" in senior officers' commitment to tackling racial crime, the Macpherson report's message of institutional racism has not percolated through the ranks.


Saturday 8 January 2000

SCOTLAND Yard mounted a robust defence of its record on murder detection yesterday as it prepared its response to a critical report from the Inspectorate of Constabulary.  Sir Paul Condon, who retires this month as Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said the leaked conclusions of the report ignored the scale of his force's staffing crisis.

The report is due to be published on Monday and is believed to suggest that many London murder inquiries are conducted by overstretched, often inexperienced teams. It also reportedly questions the Yard's response to criticism of its approach to racial crime.

Scotland Yard had urged the report's authors, David Blakey, former Chief Constable of West Mercia, and Don Dovaston, Assistant Chief Constable of Derbyshire, to take account of the performances of city forces overseas, and to make allowances for the loss of thousands of officers during Sir Paul's seven-year term of office.

Sir Paul said yesterday: "Nowhere is there any real acknowledgment that the Met has lost 6,000 people off its staff." He added that if so-called "stranger murders" were eliminated, the Met clear-up rate was as good as, or better than, other forces.

He also said the Met was the world's most successful major city force, contrasting its 85 per cent murder clear-up rate with Paris, on 75 per cent, Dublin, 74 per cent, Amsterdam, 70 per cent, and Washington, 44 per cent. However, the Met force's clear-up rate for homicide - murder, manslaughter and infanticide - lags significantly behind the national average. While Scotland Yard recorded successes in only 85 per cent of cases in the last official statistics, covering 1998, the national average was nearly 95 per cent. After a spate of gangland murders, the Met statistics for 1999-2000 could be worse.

A number of provincial forces - including Merseyside, Northumbria, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and West Midlands - said yesterday that they were detecting all or almost all killings in their areas.

Northumbria Police said it had cleared up all 21 murders and manslaughters for the year ending March 1999, plus one older murder inquiry. Merseyside Police also reported detection in all of its 29 homicides in the same period.





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