Stephenson appointed Met Commissioner

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The Independent Online

Sir Paul Stephenson will be the next Metropolitan Police commissioner, it was reported tonight.His appointment as head of the UK's largest police force will be confirmed tomorrow.Sir Paul worked as former commissioner Sir Ian Blair's deputy for four years.

Final interviews for the office of commissioner marked the end of a gruelling selection process earlier this week.

The two candidates took turns in the hot seat in front of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

The cross-party panel finally agreed on an officer to serve London and Britain for the next five years.

The Scotland Yard role combines regional and national responsibilities and Sir Paul, if appointed, would staff of more than 50,000 and a £3.5 billion budget.

He would be expected to continue the fight against terrorism, lead police strategy nationwide and secure the 2012 Olympic Games.

In London, the new commissioner faces spiralling youth violence, a potential recession-fuelled crime wave and low morale as budget tightening looms large.

Sir Paul, 55, has considerable experience at the top of the Met as Sir Ian's deputy and as acting commissioner.

He faced tough questions just days after he took over last December in the wake of the arrest of Tory frontbencher Damian Green.

The resulting furore catapulted Sir Paul into the media spotlight and gave the straight-talking Lancastrian an opportunity to show his mettle.