Last month, London mayor Sadiq Khan accompanied the Metropolitan Police Service’s new commissioner, Mark Rowley, on a walkabout through Stratford, East London. A series of high-profile scandals have rocked the force in recent months, and the mayor and commissioner hoped to inspire public confidence in the police. They also aimed to attract new recruits.
“As I lead reform at the Met,” Rowley told an audience in Stratford Town Centre, “I would encourage you to come along to an outreach event in your area, where you can learn about the opportunities for a great career.”
With the number of voluntary resignations from England and Wales police forces up 72 percent since last year, these efforts to attract new officers are sorely needed. Yet Rowley appeared more concerned with virtue signaling than with promoting the police force.
“I am really pleased that we have achieved our highest ever female representation as part of the Met reaching its greatest ever total number of officers,” he said.
The number of female police officers in London has indeed reached a record high, according to Met figures. As of September, the force was 30.4 percent female, and it aims to increase its share of women officers to 33 percent by the next fiscal year, intending for 50 percent of all new recruits to be women. Of the 1,678 officers recruited since April, 44.5 percent (746 officers) have been female.
Rowley is devoted to diversity and inclusion. “The evidence across the world is that the best companies and organisations benefit from diverse teams,” he has said. “It is not only about fairness, it is about being the most effective in a complex world.”
The world is indeed complex, but London’s violent crime has risen steadily in recent years. Police in London recorded a quarter of a million violent crime offenses in 2021-22, a 10 percent increase from the previous year. A major driver of violence in the capital has been gang warfare. According to a Sky News investigation, roughly 200 gangs operate in London.
During the last weekend of October, a shootout between rival gangs in Brixton left two people dead, including an innocent 21-year-old delivery driver. The tragedy came just five days after a triple shooting in Ilford, East London, resulting in the deaths of two young Somali men. Over the same weekend, a 21-year-old man was stabbed to death at a Halloween party in Wembley, and a 32-year-old-man died from knife wounds after a confrontation between two groups of men outside a restaurant near Waterloo station. The Met launched a murder investigation after a double-stabbing led to the death of a woman in her sixties in Dagenham, East London, and police were dispatched to Willesden in North West London after a middle-aged man was shot in the leg.
In the 12 months preceding June 2022, roughly a quarter of the 46,428 knife crimes recorded in England occurred in London. Last year, teenage homicide victims in the city numbered 30—more than in any other year since World War II—and most were stabbing victims.
London has seen a rise in various violent crimes in addition to homicide. The number of rapes reported to the Met police has risen by 65 percent since 2016, and a home is burglarized roughly every 13 minutes in the capital city.
With just 5 percent of all crimes resulting in a charge or conviction, Rowley has far more important things to consider than his force’s gender parity. His recent remarks indicate the disconnect between what elites value and what the public finds most pressing. At the Stratford event, Mayor Khan described the increase in female police representation as an “important event.” Not as important as stopping crime.
Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images