Ex-counter-terrorism chief named new head of London's beleaguered police force

·2-min read
Britain's top anti-terrorism officer, Mark Rowley, speaks to the media outside New Scotland Yard following a recent attack in Westminster, in London

By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) -Mark Rowley, Britain's former counter-terrorism police chief who led investigations into a series of attacks in 2017, was on Friday named the new head of London's beleaguered police force, which is reeling from a series of shocking failings and revelations.

Just last month, the Metropolitan Police was placed in a special monitoring and improvement program by a watchdog after criticism over its handling of a string of high profile cases, coming on top of disclosures of a culture of bullying, racial discrimination and misogyny within its ranks.

The force was particularly shaken last year by the abduction, rape and murder of a woman, Sarah Everard, by one of its officers, and then the policing of a vigil in her honour was later found to be unlawful by a London court.

"Our mission is to lead the renewal of policing by consent which has been so heavily dented in recent years as trust and confidence have fallen," said Rowley, the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who had resigned from the force in 2018 after 30 years of policing.

In February, former chief Cressida Dick stepped down after London Mayor Sadiq Khan told her he was not satisfied she could root out the problems that existed within the force.

That came after a catalogue of shocking cases. In December, two officers were jailed for sharing pictures from a crime scene after the murder two sisters.

An investigation by the police complaints watchdog into one unit based less than a mile from its main headquarters found officers had discussed beating women, making racist and homophobic slurs, while one had messaged a female colleague to say he would rape her.

An inquiry last year into shoddy investigations into the brutal 1987 murder of a private investigator said the force displayed "institutional corruption".

Home Secretary Priti Patel said Rowley was taking on the job when public trust had been "severely undermined by a number of significant failings".

Rowley joined the Met Police in 2011, having previous been the chief of the Surrey force south of London, later becoming the national lead for counter-terrorism and heading up the investigations into a series of deadly attacks in 2017.

He stepped down in 2018 when he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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