I find myself defending the Dog-Catcher-in-Chief

I spoke at a conference this morning, grandly entitled “The Policing and Crime Act: Putting People First” and I found myself in the rather unexpected and unusual position of defending the Dog-Catcher-in-Chief (DCiC) himself, Deputy Mayor Kit “Hand on Tiller” (HoT) Malthouse AM.

I was talking about the inter-action between politicians and the police service and made the point that one of the functions of a police authority is to help sensitise police chiefs to the issues that matter to the communities they both serve.  We ended up discussing as an example the issue of dangerous “attack” dogs.

This is a topic which led the Metropolitan Police to brief the press about their exasperation (“he’s on the phone every day”)  over the vigour with which the DCiC was pursuing the matter.  I pointed out that the Metropolitan Police Authority – in particular, Cindy Butts – had been raising concerns about the increasing prevalence of such dogs in London and the extent to which they were used to intimidate and threaten people.  In my local park you routinely see youths training their dogs to hang from tree branches by their jaws and most big-city dwellers will have similar stories.  The DCiC picked up on these concerns and pressed the Metropolitan Police to take the issues more seriously.  This they have now done.

This is not about interfering with the operational independence of chief constables.  It is about highlighting legitimate public concern and encouraging the police service to respond operationally in a proportionate and appropriate fashion.

I am sure that, even without the DCiC’s pressure and that of MPA colleagues, the Metropolitan Police would eventually have taken action.  But police authority intervention hastened that action by highlighting public concern.  And I rather think that most Londoners welcomed that.

It is a bit like what Winston Churchill is alleged to have said about the United States “The Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.”  For Americans read the Metropolitan Police, although I am not sure who the Churchill-equivalent would be in this case.

5 thoughts on “I find myself defending the Dog-Catcher-in-Chief”

  1. I never knew Malthouse won the Albert Medal. My paternal Grandfather got the AM too. As for dangerous dogs, why should the police know? They are too busy attending demos and photgraphing hippies to bother about patrolling slums. Servus!

  2. An understandable mistake ….

    In this context, of course, the AM designation means “Assembly Member”. When the first London Assembly was elected in 2000, its first Chair was Trevor Phillips (does anyone remember him?) and he was very preoccupied by what was the right suffix for Assembly Members. LAM (for London Assembly Member) was rejected because it made the Assembly sound like a lot of sheep. GLAM (for Greater London Authority Member) was rejected because it might imply the Assembly was a bit … self-absorbed (never). MLA (for Member of the London Assembly) was rejected in case of confusion with the Northern Ireland Assembly, who are known as Members of the Legislative Assembly or MLAs. So that left AM (despite the possibility of confusion with Members of the Welsh Assembly, who also use the designation AM – no, I can’t explain it either).

  3. Yes I was thrown by the Welsh Assembly. My youthful faux pas about a painter has not been repeated. “R.A never knew he was in the Royal Artillery, which battery?” Of course if the artist had been he would be R.A, R.A. No cheering, please.

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