Zoë Garbett also called for policing of cannabis to be deprioritised
The Metropolitan Police has been hit by a wave of scandals in recent months, following a string of officers convicted of or charged with sexual offences. In the wake of this, trust in the Met is low, with over half of all Londoners saying they don’t currently trust the force.
At the Green Party’s spring conference in Birmingham, Left Foot Forward spoke to Zoë Garbett – a Councillor in Hackney and the Greens’ newly selected candidate for London Mayor. With the Mayor of London holding responsibility for the city’s police, we discussed how she would change the culture of the Met if she were elected Mayor next May, as well as what else she’d like to see change in the force’s operations.
On the culture within the police, Garbett says that revelations about “the behaviour of Met officers is not a surprise to people”. Arguing that people have been experiencing these behaviours “for an incredibly long time”, she goes on to say that misogyny and racism have been “going completely unchecked and unchallenged” and that the Met’s own processes have been “reinforcing that behaviour”.
Garbett says that public accountability of the police is crucial. She highlights work she has already been doing within the Borough of Hackney in seeking to hold the police to account, saying: “I’ve been participating in the scrutiny of the police following Child Q. I’ve been holding the local commander to account on discriminatory behaviour towards gig economy workers and the use of immigration raids.” Combined with that public scrutiny, she argues that more “local control” over the Met is needed, with “local involvement of communities” in policing, including around vetting processes. This, she argues would be “transformational” for the relationship between the police and the public, claiming that “people would feel that they’re represented, included, listened to”.
Another area that Garbett is particularly interested in is drugs policy, and how drugs are policed in London. Criticising the “over-policing” of drugs and the “overuse and misuse” of stop and search, which she says is “used as a tool to criminalise particularly young black people”, Garbett wants to see the Met “deprioritising the policing of cannabis”, and to take a “public health approach” to drugs. Additional policy initiatives she says she’d like to see rolled out to improve the capital’s approach to drugs include drug safety testing and overdose prevention centres.
Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward
Image credit: Twitter screengrab
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