New Met police chief must commit to root and branch reform, demands Sadiq Khan

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New Met police chief must commit to root and branch reform, demands Sadiq Khan
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Sadiq Khan on Friday demanded that the new Metropolitan police chief be a “reforming commissioner” committed to a root and branch transformation of the force’s culture.

The mayor, in a major speech at City Hall, said he owed it to victims such as Sarah Everard and Stephen Lawrence to deliver major change at Scotland Yard after a series of scandals that left him “sick to the stomach”.

The intervention comes as the race to succeed Dame Cressida Dick has reportedly been reduced to a shortlist of two - Sir Mark Rowley, a former head of counter-terrorism at the Met, and Nick Ephgrave, currently an assistant commissioner at the Met.

Mr Khan, as the police and crime commissioner for London, has to be consulted on the choice of Met commissioner by Home Secretary Priti Patel.

His speech is likely to be viewed as him seeking to use his substantial political mandate - following his re-election as mayor last year - to ensure his favoured candidate gets the job.

It is understood Mr Khan has no wish for the race to be re-run but wants the two remaining candidates - and Ms Patel - to be well aware of his expectations.

Mr Khan’s decision to withdraw support from Dame Cressida in February resulted in her dramatic resignation, which saw her leave the force in April. This saw the Met Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, announce it had no confidence in the mayor.

On Friday he set out a series of reforms that he believes are essential in rebuilding the trust of Londoners in the wake of the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving officer Wayne Couzens, the racist and misogynistic conduct of some officers at Charing Cross police station, and the strip-searching of 15-year-old pupil Child Q at her Hackney school while she was on her period.

Dame Cressida Dick resigned as Metropolitan Police Commissioner in a shock move earlier this year (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
Dame Cressida Dick resigned as Metropolitan Police Commissioner in a shock move earlier this year (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

The reforms being demanded by the mayor include:

* More robust vetting of new and serving police officers.

* Better recruitment processes to ensure the Met only gets “top quality people”.

* Faster misconduct hearings.

* Proactive procedures to weed out those who should never have been allowed to become police officers in the first place.

* High-tech monitoring to help identify corrupt officers and inappropriate behaviour.

* Encouraging whistle-blowers

* Reforming training on “bread-and-butter” policing, from 999 responses to solving crimes.

Mr Khan, addressing an audience including victims of crime, charities, police officers and community representatives, was expected to say: “We owe it to Stephen Lawrence, to Sarah Everard, to Child Q, to all the victims of these recent scandals… to continue the struggle with fierce determination and an unflinching sense of purpose.”

Mr Khan said the scandals had left him “disgusted and extremely angry” and that they “cannot be explained away as the actions of just a few bad apples”.

He defended his intervention as “democracy in action” and an example of the “checks and balances of power, without which we’d still be living with the kind of policing we saw before the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry”.

He added: “We now need to see nothing less than a new contract forged between the police and the public. This means: root and branch reforms to improve policing to ensure the Met can deliver the basics better. An overhaul of disciplinary processes. And systemic change to the Met’s culture.

“But before any of this, Londoners need to hear the leadership of the Met publicly acknowledge the scale and depth of the problems - something which will be a crucial first step for the next commissioner to start rebuilding trust and credibility with our communities.”

The latest round of interviews are due to take place next week, with the final round involving Ms Patel and the mayor.

After the speech, which was attended by Met assistant commisisoner Helen Ball and commander Alex Murray, Mr Khan told the Standard he was hopeful the winning candidate would be announced “sooner rather than later”, probably in the “next couple of months”.

He said he knew both candidates, who he described as “good, decent officers” but added: “The job they’re applying for is different from the jobs they have had in the past, where they have been excellent.

“As I said in my speech, I want a reforming commissioner. We need a commissioner who ‘gets it’. We need a commissioner who hasn’t got their head in the sand, who is not in denial, but understand that trust and confidence is integral to fighting crime.”

In the speech, Mr Khan said Met officers were not expected to be perfect but to be “honest and open”.

He referred to Sir Robert Mark, who was commissioner between 1972 and 1977, as the type of individual needed to drive reform of the Met. Sir Robert famously said that a “good police force is one that catches more crooks than it employs".

Mr Khan said there was a crisis in policing far wider than just in the Met, and appealed to Londoners “from all backgrounds” to apply to become an officer to drive the transformation he is seeking.

He said Londoners needed to know that the police were “on their side”. Mr Khan said: “It’s what I want when my daughters go out in London.”

Sir Mark has been the favourite ever since Dame Lynne Owens, the former director general of the National Crime Agency, announced that she would not be standing.

Mr Ephgrave was the only serving Scotland Yard officer who applied to replace Dame Cressida.

He fronted the police’s public updates during the Sarah Everard murder investigation and has played a key part in the force’s recent efforts to suppress violence and divert young Londoners away from gangs and knife crime.

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