White, male field likely in search for new Met head as frontrunner steps aside

Decision by Lynne Owens not to apply leaves former top officer turned thriller writer Mark Rowley a favourite

A frontrunner to be the next Metropolitan police commissioner has said she will not apply, leaving a former top cop turned thriller-writer as one of the favourites for the role.

Lynne Owens was the previous director general of the National Crime Agency and stood down last year to focus on her treatment for cancer. On Tuesday she wrote on Twitter that she had spent weeks considering whether to apply for the post of Britain’s top officer, but her decision was not health related.

Applications close on Wednesday for the £290,000-a-year post, which became vacant after the resignation of Cressida Dick following a series of scandals.

Owens was an assistant commissioner in the Met, and then became the chief constable of Surrey. There she succeeded Mark Rowley, who has now emerged as one of the frontrunners to be Met commissioner.

Rowley is a former head of counter-terrorism, who left policing in 2018. In the meantime, he has worked in the private sector, co-authored a report on extremism, and recently co-authored a thriller based on a female detective fighting terrorist violence.

Also likely to apply is Shaun Sawyer, the chief constable of the Devon and Cornwall force, who has previously served as a commander in Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command.

Since Dick’s departure was announced in February, potential applicants have been in touch with officials at the Home Office and the London mayor’s office. The next commissioner will be appointed by the home secretary, Priti Patel, who by law has to take account of the views of London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, who is also the police and crime commissioner for London.

Both government and City Hall believe the Met needs radical reform to boost falling public confidence, sapped by a series of scandals and concern about how the force’s leadership dealt with them.

Officials are said to be interested in an application from Andy Marsh, chief executive of the College of Policing, which sets standards for law enforcement. He has been the chief constable of Avon and Somerset and, before that, the Hampshire force.

Among senior officers in the Met, assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave, also another former chief constable of Surrey, may be considering a run. Matt Jukes, head of counter-terrorism and former chief of South Wales police, has also been considering applying. But he may sit this competition out and be a strong contender to be deputy commissioner and the heir apparent next time.

Assistant commissioner Neil Basu, once seen as a strong contender to succeed Dick, has been discouraged by reports the government dislikes him for his comments on race, and is expected not to apply. He would have been the first ethnic minority Met commissioner. But he is understood to be among the final two candidates to be the next director general of the NCA. The process to appoint to this role is taking longer than expected, and the final two candidates are yet to go through the final stage, which is an interview with Patel.

Owens’ decision not to apply means the field is likely to be male and white. Olivia Pinkney, chief constable in Hampshire, is not applying, and Lucy D’Orsi, chief of British Transport Police and before that a Met veteran, only recently took charge of the force that patrols Britain’s railways.

Applications will be sifted to create a shortlist of four or five candidates, it is believed, with interviews scheduled for three weeks’ time. The would-be Met commissioners will have to complete interactive assessments and other tests.

The deadline for @metpoliceuk Commissioner applications is tomorrow. To prevent speculation & in the interests of transparency I’m not applying. I’m so grateful for the support I’ve had as I’ve worked through my decision 1/

— Lynne Owens (@DameLynneOwens) May 3, 2022

Announcing her decision not to stand, Owens wrote on Twitter: “I’m so grateful for the support I’ve had as I’ve worked through my decision.

“I do not intend to talk about my rationale other than to say it is not health related & I am actively looking for my next career challenge! I wish candidates every success – policing will always hold my heart.”

I do not intend to talk about my rationale other than to say it is not health related & I am actively looking for my next career challenge! I wish candidates every success - policing will always hold my ❤️ /end

— Lynne Owens (@DameLynneOwens) May 3, 2022


Vikram Dodd Police and crime correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Met police increased use of section 60 stop and search during lockdown
Exclusive: number of people stopped with no grounds for suspicion doubled compared with previous year

Sarah Marsh

27, Jul, 2020 @5:00 AM

Article image
Priti Patel’s search for new Met police chief could include overseas candidates
Home secretary is understood to be keen on outsider to head London force who could push through reforms

Rajeev Syal

13, Feb, 2022 @5:26 PM

Article image
Met police chief says more stop and search may help reduce knife crime
Cressida Dick tells BBC Asian Network police officers not using tactic unfairly against black and Asian people

Matthew Weaver

08, Aug, 2017 @12:27 PM

Article image
Met police chief: facial recognition technology critics are ill-informed
Cressida Dick defends tech after civil liberties groups raise fears over accuracy and privacy

Haroon Siddique

24, Feb, 2020 @3:43 PM

Article image
Met feared 'serious disorder' if lockdown rules were enforced at racism protest
Scotland Yard chief Cressida Dick also calls for justice and accountability following death of George Floyd

Vikram Dodd Police and crime correspondent

03, Jun, 2020 @3:58 PM

Article image
Government agrees to review of how Cressida Dick was ousted as Met chief
Review may look at communications between police and City Hall after clash with Sadiq Khan but will not ‘change any outcomes’

Vikram DoddPolice and crime correspondent

27, Mar, 2022 @6:51 PM

Article image
Parliament Square crowd protests against policing of Sarah Everard vigil
Officers take a hands-off approach to event on Sunday called in response to tactics used the previous day

Aamna Mohdin and Damien Gayle

14, Mar, 2021 @7:19 PM

Article image
Has the pandemic led to a long-term erosion of the right to dissent?
Analysis: the police’s handling of the Sarah Everard vigil raises questions over whether authorities are going too far

Sarah Boseley

14, Mar, 2021 @5:49 PM

Article image
Met chief 'baffled' by lack of Covid vaccines for police
Cressida Dick calls on government to prioritise frontline officers after spate of spit attacks

Matthew Weaver

19, Jan, 2021 @10:03 AM

Article image
Cressida Dick must be held accountable over Couzens case, says ex-Met chief
John Stevens says commissioner, and politicians who cut Met’s resources, ‘must take some responsibility’

Rajeev Syal and Vikram Dodd

01, Oct, 2021 @3:25 PM