View from City Hall: We must all unite to fight against Covid

PUBLISHED: 08:30 14 November 2020

Unmesh Desai has written a report on areas  the Met needs to address to improve trust and confidence in BAME communities.

Unmesh Desai has written a report on areas the Met needs to address to improve trust and confidence in BAME communities.


As we enter a second lockdown period, I have written to the council to ask what further steps they will be taking locally, particularly in terms of economic support, public health messaging and enforcement.

The government could have avoided this situation if it had put in place an effective test and trace system and if it hadn’t dithered and delayed and instead opted for an earlier circuit-breaker. It will be tough, but we must all now get through the next few weeks together as a community.

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We now have a referendum to decide on how Newham is governed on May, 6, 2021, but exactly what question will be put to local residents will depend on the outcome of a court case - although this may have been resolved by the time you read this. The petition signed by 13,000 people calls for a choice between a directly elected mayor and what is known as the “leader and cabinet” model, used in most London boroughs, whereas the motion passed by the council calls for a decision between the mayoralty and a “committee system”.

As I said in 2002, when I chaired the Newham Campaign for Democracy against bringing in an elected mayor, the result of the referendum has to be respected and it will then be up to us as politicians to make the peoples’ choice work. It is a difficult time for any local authority during a pandemic, with a looming recession and front-line services being put at risk due to government underfunding. It is therefore important that the debate is conducted in a mature and constructive manner. Elsewhere, I have now published my new report, Policing By Consent, in the wake of the concerns raised through Black Lives Matter protests towards disproportionate policing tactics.

The report, which can be read on my GLA webpage, looks at the areas the Metropolitan Police needs to address to improve trust and confidence in policing among London’s BAME communities.

My conclusion is that the Met needs to focus on five key areas: recruitment, retention, training, operational practice and community engagement. I’ll be monitoring progress against these areas in the future.

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