Met Police boss defends his £200k-a-year HR chief accused of overseeing failings

Clare Davies was promoted to the Met’s Chief People and Resources Officer in September 2022
Clare Davies was promoted to the Met’s Chief People and Resources Officer in September 2022

Sir Mark Rowley has defended Clare Davies, his £200,000-a-year human resources chief, after whistleblowers claimed a catalogue of Metropolitan Police failings identified in the Casey review could be laid at her door.

Ms Davies, appointed an OBE for services to policing in 2017, was promoted by the new commissioner when he took over last year, becoming the Met’s chief people and resources officer.

But last week’s report by Baroness Louise Casey was extremely critical of the force’s HR operations, describing the Met as “an organisation that is incoherent and unstrategic”.

Despite Scotland Yard’s HR budget almost doubling to £68.5 million in recent years, with many services being outsourced, the Casey review identified problems in planning, recruitment, training, supervision and misconduct.

A whistleblower and several senior sources told The Telegraph that Ms Davies could not escape responsibility for many of the Met’s structural problems, with one describing her as “hopelessly out of her depth” and another saying she was “a toxic senior leader”.

However, Sir Mark said: “Clare is a valued member of our senior leadership team and she has my full support. We have accepted the findings of Baroness Casey’s report. We do so collectively. Any suggestion that responsibility rests with a single individual is both untrue and deeply unfair.

“Our senior leaders bring experience, diversity and energy to the challenges that lie ahead of us. They are united in their determination to lead, to set our frontline up for success and to play their part in delivering the police service Londoners deserve.”

Sir Mark Rowley, the Metroplitan Police Commissioner - James Manning/PA
Sir Mark Rowley, the Metroplitan Police Commissioner - James Manning/PA

Ms Davies who has been at the Met since 2013, has known Sir Mark for many years, having worked with him at Surrey Police when he was Chief Constable there between 2009 and 2011.

He has described her as a “valued member of the senior leadership team”, and the Met insisted she has his “full support”.

But one whistleblower claimed: “She is a toxic senior leader. There are quite a few talented people who would be interested in signing up to help the commissioner with the turnaround of the Met but refuse to join because they’d have to work with her.”

Another long-serving and very senior Met source told The Telegraph: “Mark is one of the brightest people I know, and some of Claire’s limitations are very, very obvious, and those two statements don’t sit well together.

“I know a number of people have said to Mark that Clare is a problem, and if he is going to face the challenges going forward he has got to have better than that around him, who are capable of really nimbly changing our recruitment and training processes.”

‘Vetting of recruits very worrying’

Ms Davies, who in 2020/21, before her promotion, was paid £203,677 including £46,648 of pension contributions, describes her responsibilities as including resourcing, workforce, planning, leadership and talent, employee relations and business partnering.

But the Casey review concluded that failings in many of the Met’s structures and practices fostered “a culture in which poor performance, behaviours and attitudes can go unchallenged”.

The report criticised the lack of training and supervision for new recruits, with only 13 per cent of frontline officers completing a “performance development review”.

One Met source said the recruitment and vetting of recruits was very worrying, adding: “We are putting all this effort into the department of professional standards to get [rogue officers] out, but at the other end you are letting in people who are potentially going to create huge problems down the line.”

Under Ms Davies’s, tenure the Met has also spent huge amounts of money outsourcing services, including a £428.5 million 10-year contract signed with Shared Support Services Connected Limited (SSCL) as part of cost-cutting measures in which back-office tasks were relocated to “shared service centres”.

The result of outsourcing so much of HR to SSCL was that, as Baroness Casey noted, “embedded on-site HR” staff who could help officers deal with rogue police under their command were withdrawn, “leaving supervisors relatively unsupported”.

Eight-year deal for police training

One former Met source said: “A decade ago, if I’m a Detective Chief Inspector and I have a problematic member of staff, as I often did, there was an HR manager who was on my management team.

“I could go down the corridor and say ‘what do I do?’ That was really, really effective. Then they took all these people out of local management teams, centralised it and outsourced it. The quality of service went through the floor.”

Another huge HR outsourcing contract signed under Ms Davies was an eight-year deal for new officer training costing £300 million, but one former officer said: “It’s horrifically bad. Police officers turning up in boroughs barely knowing how to do anything.”

As for broadening the diversity of its workforce, the review said the Met “has no credible plan to do so to a point where it genuinely reflects the diversity of London’s population”.

Baroness Casey said such a gaping hole was “worrying”, particularly given the “amount of money spent by the Met on human resources, and its heavy and growing use of and expenditure on contracted out services and consultants”.