MPS to decommission Gangs Violence Matrix

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is decommissioning the Gangs Violence Matrix following “concerns about its disproportionality”.

Feb 13, 2024
By Paul Jacques

Instead it will use the existing Violence Harm Assessment (VHA) to identify and risk assess the most harmful individuals who are involved in violence in London.

The MPS said the decision follows extensive consultation, during which it became clear community members felt violence overall was the overwhelming concern, rather than street gang violence in isolation.

Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said: “In October 2022, we committed to the complete redesign of the Gangs Violence Matrix.

“We have been considering how we can best make assessments and meet operational challenges. This has been informed by the Commissioner’s vision to become more evidence-based and data-driven in our approach, as set out in our plan, ‘A New Met for London’.

“We have listened to the concerns about disproportionality on the Gangs Violence Matrix and have spent the past year engaging with community members and relevant stakeholders, to ensure we have complete transparency about our new approach to tackling the most violent and harmful offenders in London.

“From Tuesday February 13, the Gangs Violence Matrix will no longer exist.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “The Met has reached an important decision to move to a new more targeted approach to dealing with violence in the capital.

“The VHA is a significant change that will help the Met pursue the most prolific offenders and, where appropriate, provide an opportunity to work with partners to support those who are vulnerable to violence, gangs and criminal exploitation.

“But there is still a lot of work to do and Londoners will rightly judge this new approach on results. I will continue to support and hold the Met to account to ensure the new approach is effective in tackling gang violence and has the confidence of all of our diverse communities as we work to build a safer and fairer London for everyone.”

The MPS confirmed it has decided to move to “prioritising violence through an adapted existing tool, the VHA”.

“Where individuals come to notice, the VHA can also provide an opportunity to work with partners to support those who are vulnerable or criminally exploited and to divert them from a criminal lifestyle,” it added.

The scoring for the Violence Harm Index uses academically tested methodologies developed by the Cambridge Harm Index and Office of National Statistics Scoring.

“The VHA will complement the MPS’s ongoing work in this area by identifying violence linked to increased gang tensions in London,” the force said.

“Police forces need to prioritise finite proactive resources, this tool allows the Met to be as precise as possible in focusing on those who do the most harm. Gang-related crime will now be treated with the similar level of precision-led policing as seen in the V100 project, which identifies the most dangerous and violent sexual predators.”

Each area in London will use the information on the VHA to prioritise police resource towards the most harmful individuals.

“Identifying the criminals that cause the most harm will always be a priority for the Met. It will enable the Met to spot patterns of offending and save lives being lost to violence,” the force said.

Information Commissioner John Edwards said: “We’ve always been concerned that a database of this nature has potential to be unfair.

“Our investigation found that people’s rights weren’t being respected, and we required changes making clear the difference between victims and offenders, and changing how information on the matrix was shared.

“If the Metropolitan Police has determined that the benefits no longer outweigh the risks, then it is the right thing to do to dismantle it.”

In 2018, the Information Commissioner’s Office found the ‘Gangs Matrix’ was potentially breaking data protection laws and issued an enforcement notice to the MPS ordering improvements.

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