Tough talk and family values: Bernard Hogan-Howe lays down the law


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The Independent Online

Policing has been distracted from fighting crime head on by community projects and needs to refocus on its core role, the newly appointed Metropolitan Police Commissioner has said.

In his first interview since being given the job on Monday, Bernard Hogan-Howe said of Scotland Yard: "I don't think we are here to be social workers, to run schools."

He continued: "I think in the past the police service has got trapped into some partnership working which is not always about fighting crime. I am trying to get the police to concentrate on our strengths. We are good problem solvers: we go in, sort a problem out quickly and move on."

He added: "I am trying to set a tone to encourage people to stop crime happening, to catch criminals and to help victims. That is what we are here for, that's what people give us £3.5bn for."

Mr Hogan-Howe told the London Evening Standard that, despite being brought up by an "unmarried mum" and only seeing his father "about 10 times in my life", he believed that family values were the most important aspect of society in preventing crime.

"I think with the whole family unit people have a better chance," he said. "If you have a really good start you have the best chance of success. Would I have turned out the same if my parent had been a burglar?"

Revealing that he identified with the traditional Dixon of Dock Green image of the police, he added that a fundamental review of kit and tactics should include the option of using water cannon. "Although water cannon seem to be aggressive, the alternative can be a police officer hitting someone round the head with a metal baton. Neither is attractive."

The 53-year-old confirmed his feeling that the sentencing of rioters and looters was not too harsh, but said that his main concern now was to ensure the London Olympics passed smoothly next summer: "The biggest concern is to make sure there is no terrorist attack on the Olympics – we will have to be very vigilant in the lead up because it is an obvious potential target, but there is no definite intelligence that anyone is targeting it."

The former Chief Constable of Merseyside Police officially takes charge of the UK's biggest force on 26 September, after which he wants the Met to spend a couple of days every month cracking down on specific crimes.

"Take two out of 28 days, the whole organisation will concentrate on principal things. One day it might be about bail hoppers, another day about drug warrants," he explained. "Instead of squeezing the problem from one place to the next right across London you can see an impact."