David Spencer

Has Mark Rowley made London safer?

Credit: Getty Images

Today marks a year since Sir Mark Rowley became Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. When Rowley took over, his predecessor Cressida Dick had been pushed out of office, the force had been placed into ‘special measures’ for the first time in its 200-year history, and public trust had cratered following the conviction of police officers for some of the most heinous crimes imaginable. So has Rowley managed to steady the ship?

Over the past year there is no doubt that Rowley has made progress. He has restored stability – a feat that should not be underestimated. More wrong ‘uns in the force are now facing misconduct proceedings and criminal trials. This week, at an event with Policy Exchange, the Commissioner delivered an unequivocal and welcome message that police officers should not be getting involved with partisan political causes, dancing with protestors or ‘taking the knee’.

When it comes to operational policing the Met has also had some high-profile successes. With the conclusion of the manhunt for suspected terrorist and spy Daniel Khalife, the Met demonstrated its ability to take on and successfully conclude the highest-profile cases under intense scrutiny. We should not forget that over the last twelve months the Met has protected some of the biggest occasions of state, including the King’s coronation, that the capital has seen for a generation.

For too long the Met’s crime-fighting efforts have been marked by a sense of timidity

But a fifth of the way into what is a five-year project (and for him personally a five-year contract of employment) the piece missing has been a sense of boldness. Managerialism and small improvements will get the Met only so far and are certainly insufficient if the force is to survive the perfect storm that exists around policing today. The greater risk is to be found on what appears to be the safer course. 

When he was appointed as Commissioner, Rowley was the best man for the job, and that remains the case today.

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Written by
David Spencer

David Spencer is the Head of Crime and Justice for the think tank Policy Exchange. He is a former Detective Chief Inspector at the Metropolitan Police

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