Black businesses being helped by the Met
Black and other minority-owned businesses and members of under-represented communities across the capital are benefitting from a raft of innovations from the Met focused on social value.
Diverse companies are being specifically targeted as potential new suppliers and grass-roots organisations targeting those in need are getting big cash injections as part of the range of initiatives from the Met's Commercial Services department.
It is working with Minority Supplier Development UK, an organisation that helps identify and support diverse businesses in establishing relationships with prospective clients, aiming to direct 20% - double its current target - of total spend to this sector by the financial year 2024-25.
And thanks to an approach unique across both UK police forces and public sector, around £1 million has been raised from companies who supply the Met being asked to divert up to 1% of the value of their contracts to community-based organisations.
As the Met celebrates this year's Black History Month, Director of Commercial Services Mark Roberts will join a panel of peers on 20 October at the annual Black Business Show to discuss the work he has spearheaded since joining the Met nearly three years ago.
He said: "Commercial Services spends over £850m a year on a huge range of goods and services – buying in everything from helicopters to horsefeed - to keep the Met operational.
“If we can increase the proportion of our spend on minority and other diverse business organisations in London, that might help increase employment, and if we can support community-based organisations in providing vital services it might go some way to addressing crime across the capital and help individuals make positive life decisions at a critical moment."
The department's commitment to social value and sustainability has also led to it ensuring that a minimum of 10% in all commercial tenders to the Met now contain questions related to social value activities, telling them how potential suppliers are driving progress on a range of important issues such as the London Living Wage, apprenticeships and modern slavery.
The Met is also introducing a Supplier Code of Conduct outlining expectations around behaviours and ethics expected of them, which will include guidance on areas such as addressing and preventing violence towards women and girls.
Mark said: "I’m a firm believer that the commercial department in an organisation can deliver benefits outside its own four walls for the wider community. All of these initiatives are about supporting and diverting value to organisations whose aims align with ours, which is ultimately to help keep London safe. We look forward to building upon this work in future."
The first two organisations to benefit from the £1m pot of money diverted from contracts are Redthread and Groundwork, which have been awarded nearly £100,000. Further worthy organisations to be considered for the remainder available are in the process of being selected by the Met's Crime Prevention, Inclusion and Engagement Directorate.
Redthread specialises in breaking cycles of violence and exploitation for young people, including supporting those treated in A&E for violence injuries; while Groundwork is a federation of charities mobilising practical community action on poverty and the environment.
Groundwork London has injected the Met money into supporting projects spread across the capital, including the creation of a new community gardens in Hackney and a Wimbledon Tennis plant reuse scheme, benefitting local parks around the tournament.
Ben Coles, Director of Development & Strategic Programmes, said: "We were delighted to receive social value funding through the Met which has enabled us to deliver a large range of community led improvements right across London’s public open spaces.
"Importantly, we have also used it creatively to help unlock additional financial resources from the corporate sector, providing a valuable multiplier effect that has increased the impact and reach of our work."