Tuesday 6 December 2016

Race is on for Britain's most senor police officer as job advert published

Margaret Davis and Hayden Smith

Published 16/11/2016 | 11:46

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

The race to become Britain's most senior police officer will start today as an advert for the job is published.

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Speculation as to who will become the next Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has been rife since September when the current Scotland Yard boss, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, announced that he would retire seven months before the end of his current contract.

Whoever holds the post is considered to be the most senior officer in Britain because of the national responsibilities of the Met, which include counter-terrorism.

At a policing conference in London, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: "The advertisement will be going live today. I look forward to some very talented applications coming through for that very important role."

The dramatic announcement of Sir Bernard's departure after five years as head of Scotland Yard caused surprise.

The 59-year-old, who was appointed Met Commissioner in 2011 and earned £278,563 a year, had been expected to remain in the role until at least September next year.

However, the force announced that Sir Bernard was to retire - remaining in the post until February 2017 to allow the Home Secretary and Mayor to appoint a successor.

He denied this was due to concerns that London Mayor Sadiq Khan would decline to renew his contract, or in the wake of the force's doomed investigation into claims of a VIP paedophile ring.

Operation Midland, which lasted 16 months and cost £2.5 million, ended earlier this year without a single arrest. A review by retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques found there had been "numerous errors" in the probe.

The controversial inquiry saw raids on the homes of D-Day veteran Lord Bramall, late former home secretary Lord Brittan and ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor after lurid claims were made by one man, known as ''Nick'', who is now under investigation for allegedly trying to pervert the course of justice.

Possible candidates for the job include Mark Rowley, the assistant commissioner in specialist operations at the Met, and the national policing lead for counter-terrorism.

He was previously chief constable of Surrey and has served in the police for close to 30 years. At Scotland Yard he has dealt with crises including the fallout of the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan, and has become increasingly prominent since taking on the counter-terrorism role.

Chairwoman of the National Police Chiefs' Council Sara Thornton is another potential contender. Before taking on the role in April 2015, she was chief constable of Thames Valley Police for nearly eight years. Ms Thornton served with the Met for 15 years from 1986.

There is also Cressida Dick, now a director-general at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who was previously the country's most senior female police officer before she left the Met after 31 years in December 2014.

The national lead for police counter-terrorism for three years, including during the Olympics, Ms Dick oversaw many of Scotland Yard's most sensitive investigations, including into phone hacking and parliamentary expenses.

She came under intense scrutiny in July 2005 when she was in charge of the operation that led to the fatal shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, who was wrongly identified as a potential suicide bomber. She was cleared of any personal blame by a jury in a health and safety case at the Old Bailey.

Stephen Kavanagh, chief constable of Essex Police, who had a long and varied career at Scotland Yard including working in homicide, counter-terrorism and anti-corruption, is another possibility. He also helped write national hate crime guidelines after the inquiry into the racist murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence.

There was speculation over whether National Crime Agency chief Lynne Owens would try for the job, but at the time of Sir Bernard's announcement she said she had no intention of applying.

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