Leading article: What the Metropolitan Police needs from its new chief

Share
Related Topics

Something is plainly rotten at Scotland Yard. The Metropolitan Police force has been responsible for a catalogue of blunders in recent years, from the mistaken killing of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005 to the clumsy arrest of the Conservative immigration spokesman Damian Green last month.

This sorry list of foul-ups was added to at the weekend by an outburst from the counter-terrorism chief, Bob Quick, who accused the Conservative Party of planting embarrassing stories about him in the press. It turned out that Mr Quick had not bothered to check whether this was true or not when he argued that the Tories were guilty of "spiteful" and "corrupt" intimidation.

The Conservatives accepted Mr Quick's shamefaced apology yesterday, but it is hard to see how someone who has demonstrated such a crashing failure of judgement can remain in charge of a brief as sensitive as anti-terrorism policing. And it is simply impossible to see how Mr Quick can continue to head the ongoing investigation into Mr Green, which he was responsible for sanctioning.

Yet there are deeper problems within the Met than the flawed judgement of a single officer. The sheer number of mistakes and scandals that have engulfed the force of late indicates a dysfunctional organisation. It also indicates a chronic absence of effective leadership.

Sir Ian Blair has a lot to answer for. The former Met Commissioner resigned last month, after London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, withdrew his support, warning of the dangers of political interference in policing. But Sir Ian was no innocent victim of political intrigue. His downfall was rather a consequence of his own inept attempts to play politics with his office. Sir Ian spent a considerable amount of time putting out fires that he himself had started. And he neglected his primary responsibility of ensuring that the capital's police force was well organised and competent in its work.

Mr Quick's blunder underlines the need for the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, to make the right choice over Sir Ian's replacement. The candidates believed to have made it on to the short list are Sir Paul Stephenson, the Acting Commissioner of the Met, Sir Hugh Orde, the chief constable of Northern Ireland, Sir Paul Scott-Lee, the chief constable of the West Midlands, and Bernard Hogan-Howe, the chief constable of Merseyside.

The new Commissioner of the Met will face several pressing tasks. They will, first of all, have to convince Londoners that the Met will be a competent and effective crime-fighting force. A specific concern for many Londoners is the prevalence of teenage knife crime. Recession is only likely to make the job of maintaining law and order in a chaotic capital more difficult, so the new boss will need to be right on top of the operational agenda from the outset.

The new Commissioner will also need to answer to a Labour Home Secretary and a Conservative London Mayor. In that respect, the job is inescapably political and demands a deft candidate able to walk that tightrope. Finally, the new Commissioner will need to win back the support of the Met rank and file, while continuing the good work of Sir Ian in increasing levels of ethnic minority representation in the force.

The Met needs a leader, a diplomat and a crime fighter. It is a tall order. We must hope that there is someone on the shortlist able to demonstrate that they are up to the most challenging job in policing.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of IT Change – West Sussex – Up to £60k DOE – Permanent

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

IT Services Team Leader

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client, a prog...

KS2 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day + tax deductable expenses: Randstad Education Leicester: Ke...

Foundation Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Our client is seeking to app...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Tony Blair gives a speech in 1996  

What the UK needs right now is the radical Tony Blair from the nineties

Christopher Goodfellow
Mark Reckless, a Tory MP, has announced he is defecting to Ukip  

Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless are heroes – and I’m lining up more of them

Nigel Farage
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?