A Metropolitan Police superintendent has said that officers need to prioritise resources on most serious cases.
Superintendent Beth Pirie also told councillors on Thursday evening that police could no longer attend to less serious cases which did not involve a risk of violence or to life.
She said: “I’m aware of incidents where ambulances will call police because they’re not too sure about somebody, police turn up and say “will you come with us?”, and the police go with them and it’s the police who takes over at the hospital.
“In certain circumstances police will have to say it’s not our responsibility. If there’s no risk to life, no risk to violence then we’re not coming along.”
Her report on policing in the borough also showed that only slightly more white people are stopped and searched in the city than black people, despite the former group accounting for far more of the population than the latter.
In a response to a question about this disparity in the figures, Superintendent Pirie explained the distortion as being a result of Westminster’s large tourism activity, and that most offenders were visitors not residents.
She said: “We’ve got a long way to go with crime. We do get hit hard in Westminster, but that is because of the disproportionality of crime that happens in the West End and Soho.
“Westminster is a really unique place, and the disproportionality is plain to be seen and it doesn’t represent the demographic of Westminster because we have so many visitors and guests and transient criminals that come into the borough on a daily basis that our figures are always going to be distorted.
She suggested that ethnic disproportionality on stop and search in part reflect who commits crimes.
She continued: “The majority of crimes when we look at our armed robberies and theft, a lot of our suspects are from out of the borough or out of the Met area so there always will be that disproportionality.
“It’s because we have all these people that come in. We know, for example, that a lot of our pickpocketers and thefts are carried out by a big number from Romani travelling community. We know that because they are our suspects.
“We know that with armed robberies a lot of our suspects may be young black males, because that’s the details we get from the victims.
“So I can’t answer fully, but all I can say at the moment it is because of that disproportionality and based on the evidence that we get from the victims who tell us who the suspects are.”
Government data from last year showed that black people are three times more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts.
Ms Pirie, who was only recently appointed to lead Westminster’s neighbourhood policing, says she aims to maintain highest standard of officers in light of the number recent spate of high profile cases of rogue officers in the Met.
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Roger Fenton.