Sir Paul Stephenson to head London's police

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Metropolitan Police headquarters, New Scotland Yard
Image: ChrisO.

The British government has announced the appointment of Sir Paul Stephenson to head London's Metropolitan Police Service.

Stephenson said his priorities as Commissioner would be knife crime and teenage murders. The Times quoted him as telling reporters that his agenda "is about solving crime, securing our streets, convincing all our communities that we are on their side and delivering the policing they want and being intolerant of violence in any form".

The vacancy at the Met arose when the then-new Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, expressed a lack of confidence in Sir Ian Blair. While Johnson has no direct say in who acts as Commissioner, the lack of confidence made Blair's position untenable and he announced his resignation in October 2008 to take effect in December. The media has assumed there was a two-horse race to succeed Blair, between his deputy Stephenson and Northern Ireland's police chief Hugh Orde. Some elements of the media had assumed that Stephenson was out of the running following the arrest of Tory MP Damien Green as part of a leak enquiry. Stephenson had authorised the arrest.

Stephenson joined Lancashire police in 1975. He rose to become assistant Chief Constable of Merseyside police, then returned to Lancashire and became Chief Constable in 2002. He joined the Met as Deputy Commissioner in 2005 and has been filling the Commissioner's role since December of last year.