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The runners and riders to replace Cressida Dick as Met commissioner

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he urgent search for Dame Cressida Dick’s successor as Met commissioner is underway with Home Secretary Priti Patel said to favour someone from outside the force.

The likely candidates bring decades of experience. But are they ready for the biggest job in policing and finding themselves in the political line of fire?

Neil Basu

Neil Basu

/ PA Archive

As Britain’s most senior officer of Asian heritage, assistant commissioner Neil Basu is the frontrunner and a recent head of counter-terrorism.

Sadiq Khan might think Mr Basu is the right person to fix toxic cultural issues as the first minority ethnic commissioner, but he is said to have a prickly relationship with Home Secretary Priti Patel and irked No10 with criticism of Boris Johnson’s previous comments on race.

Mr Basu, who has spent his entire career in the Met, is popular among officers and is widely seen as capable of the top job.

He threatened to prosecute journalists in 2019 for publishing leaked cables from Britain’s ambassador to the US.

Dame Lynne Owens

Dame Lynne Owens

/ Getty

Dame Lynne Owens was chief constable of Surrey and served with the Met as an assistant commissioner.

She would be a strong candidate to restore the faith of women in the force having previous spoken of a zero-tolerance towards indecent exposure before it leads to more serious offending.

Dame Lynn retired on health grounds last autumn after leading the National Crime Agency since 2016.

She is known to be a favourite of Ms Patel. She has bravely written of her mastectomy, radiotherapy and ongoing recovery.

Matt Jukes

Matt Jukes

/ Metropolitan Police

Assistant commissioner Matt Jukes, the current head of counter-terrorism, has a strong background in tackling institutional corruption and racism.

Mr Jukes joined South Yorkshire Police in 1993 and during his time won praise for tackling the Rotherham grooming gangs.

He moved to South Wales Police in 2010 and rose up the ranks to become chief constable.

Mr Jukes oversaw huge change after the “Cardiff Five” scandal, one of the biggest miscarriages of justice, damaged the force’s relationship with the black community.

He joined the Met in 2020. So unlike Dame Cressida, who never ran her own force before becoming commissioner, he has prior experience at the helm.

Shaun Sawyer

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer

/ PA Wire

Shaun Sawyer, the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall since 2013, is a former head of counter-terrorism for the Met and is the NPCC lead for slavery and trafficking.

He is liked by rank-and-file officers and would be considered a calming presence at the top.

Mr Sawyer first became a constable in London in 1986. He led investigations into the 1999 Ladbroke Grove rail disaster.

From 2005 to 2007 he was the Met’s lead for covert operations and intelligence combating serious and organised crime and terror.

In 2019, he said the public should “perhaps lend a hand” rather than videoing officers when “they’re getting a kicking”.

His comments follow cases where crowds have used their phones to record police being assaulted late at night by drunken clubbers.

Lucy D’Orsi

Lucy D’Orsi

/ PA Media

Another potential replacement is Lucy D’Orsi, the chief constable of British Transport Police.

She previously worked as deputy assistant commissioner and is well respected.

During her career, she was in charge of the police response to the Beaufort Park fire in 2006 and she headed up security during Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s visit to the UK in 2015.

She would be following in Dame Cressida’s footsteps as the second woman to become commissioner.

Nick Ephgrave

Nick Ephgrave

/ Handout

Nick Ephgrave, the Met’s assistant commissioner for frontline policing, is also in with a chance of getting the top job.

Mr Ephgrave began his career in London. In 2006, his team’s painstaking detective work finally solved 10-year-old Damilola Taylor’s killing in Peckham six years on.

He moved to become chief constable of Surrey Police in late 2015.

In 2019, he returned to the Met as assistant commissioner and is leading the Grenfell disaster investigation.

Martin Hewitt

Martin Hewitt

/ PA Archive

In 1993 after leaving the Army, Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, pounded the beat as a PC for Kent Police.

Mr Hewitt joined the Met in 2005 and rose up the ranks to become assistant commissioner in charge of local policing, specialist crime and professional standards.

Last year, he hit out at the police pay freeze and said many officers felt “undervalued” after their efforts during Covid.

He was one of the first to pay tribute to Dame Cressida on Thursday night.

Mr Hewitt said she “cares deeply about the people of London and the Met’s mission to keep Londoners safe”.

Andy Cooke

Andy Cooke

/ PA Media

Andy Cooke – the former chief constable of Merseyside Police – has reputation for tough policing and favours stop-and-search.

He has no Met experience, but oversaw the jailing of dozens of multi-millionaire drug dealers in Liverpool and held the organised crime portfolio at national level.

Mr Cooke once said violent criminals are “not inherently bad people” and if he was given £5 billion to cut crime, he would put £1bn into law enforcement and £4bn into tackling poverty.

Seen as a safe pair of hands, Mr Cooke is in a senior role at HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

His rise mirrors that of Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who eventually became Met commissioner.

Simon Byrne

Simon Byrne

/ PA Wire

Simon Byrne, the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, was an assistant commissioner for territorial policing at the Met from 2011.

He was recruited by Sir Bernard, who is still close to Boris Johnson, to shake up crime fighting across the capital.

He was unpopular for challenging police commanders on their performance.

Mr Byrne left in 2014 and to lead Cheshire Constabulary.

But his time there ended in controversy when he was accused of bullying staff and behaving like Darth Vader, although he was later cleared.

Sir Stephen House

Sir Stephen House

/ PA Archive

Sir Stephen House is the Met’s Deputy Commissioner, but could be seen by Ms Patel as being too close to Dame Cressida’s tenure.

The Scottish police officer has worked in several different forces and was appointed chief constable of Police Scotland in 2012.

However, during his time there he faced criticism for his use of armed patrols as well as stop-and-search.

He eventually resigned in 2015 over the deaths of Lamara Bell and John Yuill, who lay undiscovered in a wrecked car for three days despite a call from a member of the public.

But in 2018, he became an assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police and was promoted to deputy commissioner by the end of the year.

Louisa Rolfe

Louisa Rolfe

/ PA

The Met’s assistant commissioner would be seen a smart promotion to tackle the force’s multiple examples of misogyny using her experience as national lead on violence against women.

The former West Midlands deputy chief constable started her career in Avon and Somerset.

Over 25 years there, Ms Rolfe gain a reputation for tackling organised crime and counter-terrorism as well as neighbourhood policing.

In London, she became the public face after the murder of Sarah Everard urging women to report all instances of harassment to police, including wolf whistling and cat-calling, if it makes them uncomfortable.

She said all reports would be taken seriously, even if they did not constitute a crime but faced criticism.

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