Ministers and London’s mayor have delivered a withering assessment of the state of the Metropolitan police in a job advert for a new commissioner to urgently root out the wrongdoing that has been sapping public confidence.
The advert seeks candidates to replace Cressida Dick, who quit in February after the mayor, Sadiq Khan, lost faith in her ability to drag the force out of a series of scandals, with the Home Office declining to save her.
The focus in the job advert to become Britain’s top police officer in 2017, when Dick won the post, was on fighting crime. While there is still a focus on this in the new advert, it also calls for a transformation and inspirational leadership and stresses the need to tackle the problems blighting Britain’s biggest force.
The advert says: “It has become evident that significant and sustained improvements need to be made within the [Met] to restore public confidence and legitimacy in the largest police force in the UK.”
Candidates will have to have “an achievable plan to restore the trust and confidence of Londoners”, the advert says.
It calls for “empowering leadership to address concerns around police conduct and tackling institutional culture”, adding that the successful candidate must re-establish public trust and confidence “particularly [among] women and girls and those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities”. The job will involve addressing “serious failings” in the force, the advert says.
A separate recruitment information document for the £293,000-a-year post says: “This will include delivering a police force that better reflects the diversity of London, and implementing a strong ethical framework of behaviour for the [Met], rooting out unacceptable behaviour at all levels, including misogyny, racism and homophobia.”
Scandals on race, homophobia and police treatment of women have plagued the Met, but it was the leadership’s handling and response to them that alarmed government and City Hall, as well as a perceived defensiveness by Dick.
The next commissioner will ultimately be picked by the home secretary, who has to take into account the views of Khan, who is also the police and crime commissioner for London.
One potential candidate to be Met commissioner said the enthusiastic ceremonies arranged by officers to mark Dick’s departure made it appear they thought the last five years had gone well, adding: “The Met don’t think they have done anything wrong.”
Potential candidates include the former head of counter-terrorism Sir Mark Rowley, who left policing four years ago, after which he co-authored a novel. Lynne Owens, who stood down as director general of the National Crime Agency to fight cancer, is also considering applying after positive medical news.
If Matt Jukes, the Met’s current head of counter-terrorism, applies, he would be a candidate representing a new generation of police leaders. The chief constable of Devon and Cornwall, Shaun Sawyer, may also apply and is said to have impressed the Home Office in his national role as lead on performance.
Among the big hitters unlikely to apply are Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council; Dave Thompson, the well-regarded chief constable of the West Midlands; Simon Byrne, of the Police Service of Northern Ireland; and Neil Basu, once viewed as Dick’s heir apparent but seen by government as not pliable enough.
Basu is understood to have done very well in his interview to be the next head of the National Crime Agency. The announcement for that post has been delayed.
Sir Stephen House is the acting Met commissioner in the interim, with Dick on leave and formally ceasing to be commissioner later this month.