Sir Mark Rowley begins his tenure as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, the largest police service in the whole of England and Wales.
The 57-year-old takes on the Met this week, after re-taking an oath to King Charles III, and after recent retirement, he came back to try and bring the litany of failures in the Met to an end.
Yet, there will be no honeymoon period for the scandal-ridden Met. From the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met officer.
Toxic WhatsApp group messages, where officers made jokes about rape, violence against women and girls, mocked the disabled and texts saying they wanted to kill Black children.
The last nail in the Met’s coffin was the shameful strip search of an innocent Black school girl, whose vulnerability is so tender, that she is referred to simply as ‘Child Q’.
The new commissioner will have a Goliath-like task to improve standards across the police service, reduce crime and increase public trust in the biggest force. Former Home Secretary Priti Patel wrote to the new commissioner telling him to get the basics right, improve standards and learn from the Met’s appalling mistakes.
Former commissioner Dame Cressida Dick was forced to resign after London mayor Sadiq Khan lost confidence in her ability to turn around the embattled force’s toxic culture. Dick left the police with trust in the police at its lowest, and (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service) HMICFRS considered the Met to be failing and placed into a form of ‘special measures’.
The service is now expected to meet certain crime targets and subjected to more intense security. The Met become one of the six services out of the 43 constabularies that are now under special measures.
Rowley states his two main priorities are to ensure good policing for the funeral of late Queen Elizabeth II and retake the integrity of the police force. The Queen’s funeral and its aftermath will be the biggest challenge in modern times for the Met, with an expected over 1 million visitors in London.
Trust in the Met under Dick’s tenure fell from 69% of the public that believed the police were doing a good job, to 49%, the lowest in the Met’s history of almost 200 years. The Met’s main priorities must also include, regaining the trust of women, violence against women and girls (VAWG) and building trust, particularly with Black Londoners.
The Met also faces another crisis.
After the fatal shooting of unarmed Black man Chris Kaba, on the 5th of September (2022) the police officer that fired the fatal bullet is currently under a criminal investigation for homicide. Launched after an investigation by the independent watchdog the IOPC (Independent Office for Police Conduct).
Demonstrations were held for Mr. Kaba across England, demanding justice and accountability.
The new commissioner must have the determination to root out corrupt officers and rebuild policing by consent- Rowley cannot afford to fail.
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