Foreign candidates will for the first time be allowed to apply to be the head of the Metropolitan police, but the government has signalled that it no longer sees it as the top job in British policing.
The successor to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe will be selected by a panel that includes the head of Britain’s version of the FBI, Lynne Owens, the director general of the National Crime Agency.
She chose that job instead of running to be Met commissioner and has the power to issue the commissioner with orders. Law changes mean a police chief from one of four other countries can apply for the role. But non-police officers, such as ex-military chiefs, cannot.
Hogan-Howe, announced his retirement in September. The six weeks it has taken to place the advert to find his successor means his replacement may not be in post by the time he stands down in February 2017.
The home secretary, Amber Rudd, confirmed the advert would go out on Wednesday.
The advert sets out the criteria for the next commissioner and says the successful candidate will need to:
- Show evidence of successfully leading transformational change in a challenging financial climate.
- An understanding of changing crime and threat patterns, and the protection of the most vulnerable;
- Show evidence of a lasting commitment to respecting and valuing difference and inclusion.
- Have experience of working successfully with national and local government and an understanding of the wider political, social and economic context.
- Have a successful track record of working with diverse communities to achieve positive outcomes.
The appointment of the Met commissioner is by royal warrant and essentially made by the home secretary, who is supposed to take into account the views of the mayor of London.
Among the favourites to replace Hogan-Howe is Sara Thornton, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council and former head of the Thames Valley force, which borders London. Thornton – who technically holds the rank of assistant commissioner in the Met – has been described as the former prime minister David Cameron’s favourite police chief.
The other favourite is Mark Rowley, an assistant Met commissioner who oversees counter-terrorism. In that role he has got to know key politicians who will choose the next commissioner, namely Rudd, Theresa May and the London mayor, Sadiq Khan. Rowley was previously chief constable of Surrey.
Also considering a bid are Stephen Kavanagh, the chief constable of Essex police and previously a Met officer, and Cressida Dick, who left the Met to join the Foreign Office.
Police sources say the Cheshire chief constable, Simon Byrne, who has senior-level experience in the Met, is also mulling a bid.
The job comes with a £276,000 salary but the new commissioner faces swingeing budget cuts and the task of repairing the damage to the force’s reputation after a report showed it bungled a high-profile inquiry into allegations of historical sex abuse by establishment members, which ended with no charges.
Police chiefs from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US as well as the UK would be allowed to apply, but applicants have to have served as a police officer. This means applicants from the military would not be considered.Rudd has called on police chiefs to look outside the service when recruiting their new personnel. Addressing police and crime commissioners and chief constables at a conference in London, she said: “You must recognise that talent does not only come from within police ranks.
“It can be found elsewhere too, in both the public and the private sector.”
Rudd cited the direct entry scheme, which allows candidates from outside policing to join the service at certain ranks.
“These men and women bring expertise from the worlds of finance, the civil service, the military and business. Expertise that can make a difference,” the home secretary said.
Rudd stressed the scheme’s intention was not to take away top jobs from existing police or to put them out of reach of eligible candidates from within forces.
She ruled out imposing targets for direct entry recruits, but told the audience: “I urge you to see it for what it is: an opportunity to bring in talented leaders from different sectors.”