A straight talker who wants results

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The Independent Online

After starting his working life as a shoe salesman in Bacup, Lancashire, Sir Paul Stephenson joined the Lancashire Constabulary in 1975 then transferred to the Royal Ulster Constabulary before being appointed assistant chief constable of Merseyside in 1994.

He rejoined the Lancashire force in 1999 and was appointed deputy chief constable and then chief constable in 2002. In 2005, he joined the Metropolitan Police in London as deputy to Sir Ian Blair, right.

The new commissioner has already shown his dedication to the job in the three years he has been at Scotland Yard. He divides his time between London and Lancashire, living alone in a flat in the capital while his wife and three daughters stay in the North-west.

He has a reputation of being a "straight talker" who places emphasis on results and service. One of his first jobs upon becoming acting commissioner was to insist that every victim of burglary was visited by a police officer – something that did not happen before.

Questions are bound to be asked about whether it was a wise move to appoint the former incumbent's deputy as the head of a force that was seemingly desperate to distance itself from the scandal-ridden and controversial era of Sir Ian Blair. His tenure saw the force lose a health and safety trial into the death of Jean Charles De Menezes and then be heavily criticised in the subsequent inquest into the Brazilian's death.

It was widely anticipated that the force would want a clean break from Sir Ian's legacy and Sir Paul, as his deputy, was expected to be a casualty. But those close to the new commissioner insist that he is his own man.

One example of this can be found in his reaction to the final decision Sir Ian took while in office. Last November, Sir Ian settled a dispute that had threatened to tarnish his own, and his force's, reputation. Facing an embarrassing racial discrimination tribunal, he agreed the Yard should pay an out-of-court settlement of £300,000 to Britain's most senior Asian officer, Tarique Ghaffur.

Sir Paul's reaction was said to be one of fury. He regarded Sir Ian's gesture as one of weakness. A police source said: "Sir Paul wouldn't have given him a penny. He would have taken him to the tribunal and fought Tarique in the courts."