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Met in 'crisis': Move on from Partygate and make streets safer, ex-commissioner urges

1 June 2022, 09:01 | Updated: 1 June 2022, 10:40

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A former head of the Metropolitan Police has admitted the force is "in crisis" as it searches for a new commissioner.

Amid reports that there are just two candidates remaining for the job, Lord John Stevens told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC this morning: "The Met is in crisis, we know that, over 50 per cent of people in London have no confidence in it."

There is "a massive job to do," he said.

He said the issues in the force stem back to when Theresa May was in government, when "there was a cut in resources" and "there was a change in terms of political accountability for police commissioners".

He added: "Basically we've got to a stage where the detection rates are the lowest ever, you've got the new HMI (Her Majesty's Inspectorate) coming in saying he's never known such a crisis in policing in his 36 years.

"I was in policing 43 years and been closely associated for the last eight years and I can tell you that I totally agree with that, we are in a big, big difficulty."

Dame Cressida Dick left the post of commissioner in April after the force was heavily criticised for a number of scandals, including the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving officer Wayne Couzens.

The strip-search of a black school girl who was menstruating, and a damning report into offensive messages exchanged by officers at Charing Cross station, have also caused public outcry in recent months.

However, Lord Stevens said he believed Dame Cressida was "served a very bad hand in terms of resources" and was "very unlucky in terms of what came along".

He added the "political side of it was very complex" and her replacement "has to have a contract with the politicians of all parties that we've got to get the streets of London safe, we have to get the standards of policing safe, some of the horrendous stories that have taken place where police officers were committing horrendous crimes, we've got to get to the bottom of that, and there has to be a timescale".

Lord Stevens, who was commissioner from 2000 to 2005, also agreed the top job at the Met is 'too political and not enough police'.

"The bottom line is as commissioner you have to actually get agreement, you have to go along to see the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, in my case the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Mayor, and you have to pull all these things together," he said.

"There are stresses and strains but it’s your job. It’s a job you have to work at 24 hours a day to get on with them - and convince them you’re doing a good job."

He added that he "hoped" there would never be an overseas commissioner, saying "policing in the United Kingdom is totally different from policing in Europe and certainly the States".

"I really do believe we have to get back in terms of ensuring we have a career pattern for people in the police which Theresa May destroyed by the new system and getting rid of the police college," he said.

"We've got to get back to bringing the talent through and actually testing people, ensure they have all the qualities and talent and knowledge and judgement to do what is without any doubt a very difficult job."