Police officers must attend burglaries, new Met chief says as he outlines 100 days of reform

  • 'Stop and search is intrusive but productive' - Sir Mark Rowley speaks to ITV News' Carolyn Sim about a wide range of issues facing the force

Police officers must visit the scene of break-ins in London, the new head of the Metropolitan Police has said.

Burglary is “too serious an intrusion” not to have a police officer attend, Sir Mark Rowley said on Tuesday as he began setting out his plans to reform the force over the next 100 days.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it is unacceptable that the proportion of reported burglaries attended by an officer from the force has fallen to 50%.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has vowed to rebuild the 'integrity' of the force. Credit: PA

“We’re never going to turn up to every single crime, and the public understand that, but something as severe as burglary needs a proper policing response. It’s too serious an intrusion not to have somebody turn up,” he said.

“We recently got as low as 50% on that, and that’s not acceptable."

He said police attending burglaries was a "first step" to the force becoming more reliable, along with more officers being present in communities, which he said will happen over the next year.

When did police stop visiting burglary crime scenes?

In 2015 the then-head of the National Police Chiefs' Council said that police may no longer attend burglaries in order to focus on less "traditional" crimes, such as online abuse.

"There are a lot less burglaries than there used to be, a lot less car crime, but the sorts of crimes that are on the increase - sexual offences, concerns about terrorism, cyber crime - that's where we really need to focus," Sara Thornton said at the time.

"We need to move from reacting to some of those traditional crimes to think about focusing on threat and harm and risk and protecting the public. 

However, a police watchdog report last month found that most victims of burglary, robbery and theft “aren’t getting the justice they deserve”.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services said that in 71% of burglary reports it examined, police had not given victims any advice on how to preserve the crime scene during their initial call, meaning vital evidence may have been lost.

Earlier this year Northamptonshire Police revealed it has seen burglaries in the area reduce by more than half in the three years since it introduced a dedicated "burglary team" that means every victim is visited by police.

People take a knee during a Black Lives Matter protest rally at Windrush Square, Brixton, in 2020 Credit: PA

Officers banned from taking the knee

The head of Britain’s biggest police force also said the Metropolitan Police needs tackle racist and misogynistic officers.

“We need to be ruthless at rooting out those who are corrupting the integrity of the organisation – the racists and the misogynists," he told the Today programme.

Later, speaking on LBC, he called for zero tolerance of officers who “misbehave”, saying the force had been “too forgiving” of such instances in the past.

However, he said officers should not take the knee – a symbolic gesture against racism.

He told the BBC: “We should not show any allegiance to causes, however noble or not.”

His comments came after a Guardian article reported that the commissioner had refused to meet the president of the the National Black Police Association.

The Met official Twitter account responded by quote-tweeting the article with a link to an open letter the commissioner shared on LinkedIn on Monday night in which he said he had spoken with many people and groups, “including associations representing Black, Muslim, Polish and LGBT+ colleagues”.

He added: “One group, the Met Black Police Association, I have spoken to three times. I have also spoken to colleagues who represent women who have too often been let down.

“These conversations can be challenging. I heard one network for Black officers is disregarded publicly by another and that some of our staff associations are dominated by men.”

Police to focus on men who are a danger to women

Sir Mark said he would be happy for his daughters and granddaughters to walk the streets of London at night.

He told LBC radio host Nick Ferrari that police can offer a focus on male offenders to make the streets safer for women and girls.

“Most of all, the thing that police can bring to this is (a) very clear focus on the men who predate on women and children.

“There are many men in the city, sadly, who are stalkers, they’re rapists, they’re involved in domestic violence.

“The thing we bring to solving this problem, alongside other agencies who offer more supportive role to victims, the thing we bring most of all, is the ability to identify and target those dangerous individuals.”

Sir Mark said he wants to make progress in key areas in 100 days, and to bring the force out of a form of special measures in 12 to 18 months.

The Met has been shaken by a series of scandals and missteps, most shockingly the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, but also a number of groups of officers found to have exchanged deeply offensive messages on social media.

The Met was rocked by the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving armed officer Credit: Family handout/CPS/PA

Firearms officers 'won't let down London'

The Met Commissioner dismissed suggestions that firearms officers had threatened to walk out of their roles in protest against the suspension of their colleague who fired the shot that killed Chris Kaba.

Sir Mark Rowley said: “It’s misreported nonsense. I have a very, very dedicated group of firearms officers who go out day in and day out, confronting the most extraordinarily difficult situations to protect London and they wouldn’t put their firearms and let down London.”

He has already met with Mr Kaba’s family but would not comment on what was said during the private meeting.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct watchdog is investigating the shooting of Mr Kaba, who was unarmed.

Sir Mark said: “We will do everything possible to help the IOPC get the evidence together as quickly as they can so that the truth can be laid out in front of whatever legal process follows.”

Sir Mark's comments come just days after a watchdog raised “serious concerns” about the performance of the Met after it found the force was “failing” in several areas of its work.

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