Why Dave could be right person at wrong time to replace Met police chief
The retirement of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has raised an inevitable question: who is in line to take on the most difficult job in British policing?
In the past the chief constable of Britain’s second largest force, the West Midlands, would quickly emerge as one of the favourites with the necessary experience to run the Met.
But Dave Thompson, as highly regarded as he is, may be the right person at the wrong time. He has only been in post since January this year and even if he wants the job could be overlooked on this occasion by the Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, who will appoint a successor to Sir Bernard after consulting the Home Secretary.
Mr Thompson certainly has a track record that indicates a high flyer, and crucially in the case of the Met he has plenty of experience in counter-terrorism policing.
He joined Greater Manchester Police in 1990 after graduating in Law at Liverpool University and has served at every rank, starting as a constable in North Manchester.
He commanded the main policing operations for the 2002 Commonwealth Games at the City of Manchester Stadium including the opening and closing ceremonies. He was also Commander for central Manchester, policing the diverse communities of Moss Side and Longsight.
In 2007 he was appointed Assistant Chief Constable in Greater Manchester Police and at various times led policing portfolios for Operations, Local Policing, Crime, Information Technology and Terrorism. At a national level he led the 2010 review of National Counter Terrorism structures.
In 2010 he became Deputy Chief Constable for West Midlands Police and oversaw the force’s change programme.
Since 2011 he has led the National Gangs portfolio and the Criminal use of Firearms portfolio, where he leads the UK’s response to gun crime. In 2015 he became the NPCC lead for Finance.
There are reports that the Met may get its first woman commissioner and early favourites for replacing Sir Bernard include Cressida Dick, a former head of UK Counter-Terrorism who now works at the Foreign Office and Sara Thornton, a former Thames Valley chief who chairs the National Police Chiefs Council.
Mark Rowley, an assistant commissioner at the Met who took over as head of counter terrorism policing, and Steve Kavanagh, the chief constable of Essex are also contenders.
It is possible the Home Secretary may take the unprecedented step of appointing someone from outside of the police force altogether, with the name of Sir Charles Montgomery, a former second sea lord and head of the Border Agency being canvassed in London.
Sir Bernard, 58, will retire in February 2017 after five years serving as Britain’s most senior police officer. The announcement came a week before he is to receive an independent review of Operation Midland, the controversial Metropolitan Police inquiry into child abuse cases, leading to speculation that he had jumped before he was pushed.
In a statement, Sir Bernard said:
I am so proud of the remarkable men and women who serve Londoners as police officers and staff and make this such a safe place for people to live, work or visit.
I want to thank all of them for what they do, and the risks they take each day to protect the public.
I want to thank all the partners we work with in government, in City Hall and across London. And I want to thank the public for the support they show the Met, and have shown me personally, as we do our difficult jobs.
I came into this job determined to fight crime and make the MPS the best, most professional police service. I wish my successor well as they take on this amazing responsibility.
It has been a great privilege to be the Met’s Commissioner. I have loved my time in the role and I have loved being a police officer.
Sir Bernard first joined the Metropolitan police as Assistant Commissioner in July 2001.
He was given a one-year extension to his contract as Metropolitan Police Commissioner in February of this year.
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