'I wouldn't want 34,000 Catherine Cawoods, but a few would be good': Met police chief reveals he is a Happy Valley fan

17 February 2023, 09:29 | Updated: 17 February 2023, 09:39

Sir Mark said he and his wife were 'unashamedly hooked' on Happy Valley
Sir Mark said he and his wife were 'unashamedly hooked' on Happy Valley. Picture: BBC/LBC

By Kit Heren

London's top cop has revealed that he is a fan of gritty police drama Happy Valley - but said he wouldn't want all of his officers to behave like the show's unorthodox heroine, Catherine Cawood.

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Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari on Friday, Met Police commissioner Sir Mark said he and his wife were "unashamedly hooked" on the acclaimed drama, set in a Yorkshire town beset with drugs and violence, whose third season ended earlier this month.

It came after Labour announced on Thursday that if it came to power it would recruit 13,000 more neighbourhood police officers, with a named officer for every community, in a bid to tackle crime and improve forces' community relations.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper cited Catherine Cawood, a neighbourhood police officer in the show, as an inspiration for the pledge.

Sir Mark reacted positively, saying: "She's great, isn't she! Hebden Bridge [where the show is partly filmed] is a lovely place to visit as well, I've been there in the past.

Sir Mark Rowley brands Catherine Cawood character 'larger than life'

"My wife and I are unashamedly hooked on it as a programme," he said. "Whilst there's a bit of fiction in there, as a cop character she's a very attractive character - larger than life.

Asked by Nick if the BBC show's heroine, played by Sarah Lancashire, is the 'model' for new police officers, Sir Mark quipped: "I've got about 34,000 officers - I wouldn't want 34,000 Catherine Cawoods, but a few would be good value.

Nick asked Sir Mark why he doesn't go home to watch comedies or documentaries about sharks, to which the Met chief replied: "You know I spent four years out of policing, I came back into policing because I still love it, I still love what we do.

"Regardless of the issues we've got to face down, we've got lots of fantastic people. And I've got lots of characters who are just as interesting as Catherine Cawood. Not the same as her, perhaps, but lots of characters like that.

Catherine Cawood is 'larger than life', Sir Mark said
Catherine Cawood is 'larger than life', Sir Mark said. Picture: BBC

Sir Mark described neighbourhood officers like Catherine Cawood as "the bedrock of policing".

He added: "As we've been stretched over the last couple of decades, some of the resources... have been sucked out of local policing. That's our foundation.

"There are other areas we need to put more resources into in due course," he added, like violence against women and girls, and public protection. "But what we can't do is... leave neighbourhoods bare.

"Because where we all live, we all want to have a sense that there are local police who understand what's going on in our area and who are working to make us all safe."

Asked by Nick what he and his wife were watching after Happy Valley, Sir Mark said they were watching Danish political drama Borgen, and are "just trying to work out what our next series is."

Sir Mark said 'time will tell' if Lancashire Police's decision to release personal information about Nicola Bulley was correct
Sir Mark said 'time will tell' if Lancashire Police's decision to release personal information about Nicola Bulley was correct. Picture: Social media

Speaking earlier on the show, Sir Mark also told Nick that "time will tell" if Lancashire Police were right to release personal information about missing woman Nicola Bulley.

The force revealed this week that Ms Bulley had been dealing with issues related to alcohol and the menopause before she vanished, leading to criticism as to whether the public needed to know such intimate details.

Lancashire Police said it was necessary because of how much misinformation had been put out.

Nick Ferrari puts Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley on the spot

Sir Mark, who as Met commissioner is not privy to the details of an investigation of a separate police force, said: “Any time you’re releasing personal information you need to be very, very cautious.

"Is it absolutely necessary for a policing purpose to help achieve the aim of finding a missing woman?

Read more: 'Time will tell' if Lancashire Police was right to release Nicola Bulley's problems - we're able to help, Met's top cop says

Read more: Terrified villagers where Nicola Bulley went missing hire security as visitors peep through their windows

"They’ve made that call, they’ve referred themselves to [police watchdog] the IOPC, time will tell whether that was the right call in that circumstance.

"I don’t know what information they have in front of them investigating the case. So, we’re all judging that from outside.

"Let’s focus on finding her and let’s see if the IOPC find that Lancashire got it right or got it wrong."