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Met Police decommissions Matrix gang database


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Image source: Metropolitan Police

The Metropolitan Police has stopped using its controversial Gangs Violence Matrix (GVM) database and turned to increasing the use of its Violence Harm Assessment (VHA) tool.

It said the VHA – which brings together data from a number of sources to compile a list of violent individuals – will now be its main tool for identifying and assessing the risk from the most harmful individuals in London.

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 (GVM) 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 13 February, the Gangs Violence Matrix will no longer exist.”

Past criticism

The GVM had attracted persistent criticism with claims that it over-represented young black men, which led to the removal of a large number of names in 2020-21 followed by the plan for a redesign in 2022.

In 2018, the Information Commissioner's Office investigated the database and found it was potentially breaking data protection law and issued an enforcement notice to the Met Police ordering improvements.

The force has now said that a consultation showed that community members felt that violence over was the overwhelming concern, rather than a focus on gang violence. This prompted the decision to decommission the GVM and use an adapted version of the VHA.

Information Commissioner John Edwards welcomed the move.

“We’ve always been concerned that a database of this nature has potential to be unfair," he said. “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."

Supporting vulnerable people

The force said that where individuals come to notice, the VHA can provide an opportunity to work with partners to support people who are vulnerable or criminally exploited and to divert them from a criminal lifestyle.

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

It will complement the Met's ongoing work in this area by identifying violence linked to increased gang tensions in London. The Met Police said this will enable it to be as precise as possible in focussing on those who do the most harm.

The force added that 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.

More targeted approach

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan commented: “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.”


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