Scotland Yard chief under renewed pressure to quit

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The Independent Online

Britain's most senior police chief came under renewed pressure to resign yesterday after the leader of London's 24,000 constables said they had no confidence in him.

In a further blow for Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, two other representatives of rank and file officers also criticised him.

John Reid, the new Home Secretary, will face questions today over Sir Ian's future. But the Home Office and the Metropolitan Police Authority have given the Commissioner their backing.

The criticism follows a series of controversies involving Sir Ian, including a row over him secretly taping telephone calls with ministers and what were seen as insensitive comments about the Soham murders.

He is also awaiting the outcome of two investigations surrounding the police shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station in July last year.

Peter Smyth, who represents police constables on behalf of the Police Federation, said a series of "well-publicised, embarrassing gaffes" by Sir Ian had undermined the force.

Mr Smyth told the Police minister, Liam Byrne, at the Police Federation conference in Bournemouth: "On behalf of the 24,000 constables in London and at the request of my branch board I am telling you we have no confidence in this commissioner." To applause from delegates, Mr Smyth added: "Can you tell us what you are going to do to restore police and public confidence in this commissioner?"

He attacked the growing use of cut-price community support officers, who he dismissed as appearing like "gaggles of lost shoppers".

In a further attack, Bob Elder, the chairman of the federation's constables branch, which represents more than 110,000 officers in England and Wales, said: "I am not saying 'resign, commissioner', I am saying I do not think he can turn it around," he said. Mr Elder suggested later that Sir Ian did not have "any choice" but to leave his post.

Sir Ian also came under attack from a constables' leader in the Met's Special Branch who criticised plans to amalgamate the unit into a new terrorism squad. Detective Constable Mark Strevett, the branch's constables representative, said the plans were "badly thought out" and morale was at "rock bottom".