Criminal gangs have lost fear of police after changes in ‘hard-edged tactics’, says Lord Stevens


Criminal gangs have lost fear of police after changes in ‘hard-edged tactics’ and funding cuts eroded detectives’ expertise, says ex-Met chief Lord Stevens

  • Lord Stevens said changes in ‘hard-edged tactics’ and funding eroded expertise 
  • He said officers would not be able to get away with methods they used in past
  • He was asked if it had changed from the days when officers were the Sweeney
  • Ex-commissioner, who led Met from 2000-2005, said : ‘I think we probably have’

Lord Stevens, pictured,  said changes in ‘hard-edged tactics’ and funding cuts had eroded detectives’ expertise.

Criminal gangs no longer fear the police, a former Scotland Yard commissioner has claimed.

Lord Stevens said changes in ‘hard-edged tactics’ and funding cuts had eroded detectives’ expertise.

In a radio interview with Ruth Davidson, leader of the Conservative Party in the Scottish Parliament, he said officers would not be able to get away with some of the methods they used in the past.

Miss Davidson asked whether policing had changed from the days when officers from the Flying Squad were known as the Sweeney.

The former commissioner, who led the force from 2000 to 2005, replied: ‘I think we probably have.

‘I think maybe the Flying Squad and some of the hard-edged tactics we used as CID (criminal investigation department) officers years ago certainly wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny today.

‘Things that happened in 1960s, and during my CID career which was up to detective chief superintendent level, you couldn’t and shouldn’t get away with today – it’s a totally different ball game.’

Lord Stevens, pictured, also said detectives’ expertise had been reduced by funding cuts as experienced officers retire and the force struggles to recruit replacements.

‘There is an absolute need for hard-edged detective expertise and as you probably know we’ve lost a bit of that in terms of the cuts and the way the police has been driven in the last eight to nine years.’

Current Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has spoken of the importance of the fear factor for criminals.

When she announced new tactics to tackle violent crime – such as ramming moped thieves – in 2018, she said: ‘We’ve had to put the fear back into the criminal. They know they’re going to get caught.’

Current Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has spoken of the importance of the fear factor for criminals

Current Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has spoken of the importance of the fear factor for criminals

In the interview to be broadcast on Miss Davidson’s Sunday night show on LBC, Lord Stevens also warned of the increasing demands on the police during the pandemic.

Asked if it was realistic that the police enforce Covid laws, the peer said: ‘It’s going to have to be done on a kind of consent way.

‘Of course the police haven’t got the resources to do that in a broad brush type of way.

‘Crime is going through the roof, we know that, we’ve got problems with burglary, murders, rapes are not being investigated.

‘The detection rate is, I think, from what I saw recently at an all-time low. We do have problems so at the end of the day any chief constable will have to look at their priorities and the business of Covid, which perhaps is further down the line, is not going to be at the very top of them.’

He spoke out days after the National Police Chiefs Council revealed that crime levels had risen since the lockdown with offences such as rape and domestic abuse at higher levels than this time last year.

Lord Stevens also said the Metropolitan force’s resources were in such a ‘perilous state’, it was right that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle should pay for their own police protection.

He said: ‘We’re in a very perilous state in relation to what our resources are for policing.

‘You can’t ask everybody to be giving protection to people who can afford it themselves, they should pay for it themselves in my view.’

  • To hear the full interview, tune into An Inconvenient Ruth on LBC, 9pm tomorrow

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