The world has changed enormously since Sir Robert Peel’s formation of the Metropolitan Police in 1829, yet the selection process for the Commissioner who leads the Met has failed to keep pace.
The next Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police should be selected following community interview panels and a public candidate forum that engages and involves the public.
Our proposals — based on the real-world experience of America’s sixth largest city — would add visibility, transparency and community engagement to a process in desperate need of change.
These exciting proposals from the Centre for Public Safety would signal a fresh new approach that is more transparent and involves both the public and London’s elected politicians in a meaningful way
The job of Commissioner in London is huge, both in policing terms and in its public facing role. It therefore makes sense for Londoners to have some say in the person who runs the Police Service.
average salary of the Home Office's Selection Panel
London Boroughs have an average median salary of less than £28k
of the Home Office Selection Panel for the Commissioner is white
of London's 8.6 million population is non-white and not represented
Our Key Recommendations
The Mayor of London should give Londoners a voice in the selection process for the next Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, by organising a series of community interview panels and a public candidate forum.
- The next Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police should be selected following community interview panels and a public ‘Question Time’-style televised forum. Engaging and involving the public in the selection of the next Commissioner will foster community interest and civic engagement, a secure foundation on which London’s next Commissioner can build.
- Our proposals would bring visibility, transparency and community engagement to a process conducted behind closed doors. Presently, the media must rely on rumour and private briefing, undermining their ability to inform the public.
- The Mayor would help build trust and confidence in the future leader of policing in London – and help ensure that they key issues affecting Londoners in relation to policing and public safety are communicated to the prospective candidates.
- The measures would also send a clear signal from the Mayor to the candidates of an expectation that the Mayor wishes to see the Metropolitan Police positively engage with communities and to be more transparent. It would also set a clear expectation for the next Commissioner that he or she would be expected to be a visible and trusted leader both within and outside of the organisation.
- The Mayor would also leave a lasting legacy on the Metropolitan Police, by securing a voice for real Londoners in the selection of the police officer responsible for policing the greatest global city on earth.
Members of the Community Interview Panels would be nominated by London’s Assembly Members and supplemented with representation from the Met’s own officers and staff.
- Each of London’s 25 Assembly Members would be able to nominate a member of the public to sit on the Community Interview Panel, with additional representation from the Metropolitan Police Federation, the Metropolitan Branch of the Police Superintendents’ Association and the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union.
- There would be a total of three Community Panels and each would interview the candidates shortlisted by the existing Selection Panel. The Community Panels would make recommendations to the Mayor, the Selection Panel and the Home Secretary on the candidates that they believe should progress to the final stage.
The public Candidate Forum would be televised and streamed online, with members of the audience and the public able to submit questions in advance.
- The Candidate Forum would be similar in style to ‘Question Time’, in which each finalist would be invited to answer questions in turn. The Candidate Forum would, for the first time, provide Londoners and the wider public with a clear indication of the qualities, attributes and credentials of those seeking the most senior job in British policing.
The Community Panels and Candidate Forum would provide valuable new evidence to assist the Selection Panel, Mayor and Home Secretary in making their decisions.
- At present the process is conducted out of public view – by engaging the public at the shortlisted and finalist stages, the key decision makers in the process benefit from being able to assess the performance of the candidates in listening and responding to the questions and concerns that are raised by the public.
The Home Secretary should maximise the pool of candidates for the top job by encouraging applications from candidates who might not be in compliance with the “conventions” of having experience serving in the Met and having served as a Chief Constable outside of the Met.
- These “conventions” are artificially stifling the number of applicants for the top job in British policing and the Home Secretary should make a public statement to the effect that no such requirements exist and that both she and the Mayor are solely interested in identifying the best candidate for the job.
rumoured candidates offered odds by William Hill
number of Commissioners since WW2
average tenure for Commissioners since WW2
the Met Police Commissioner's salary
Case Study: The City of Phoenix
The Centre for Public Safety visited Phoenix to find out more about the process by speaking to key individuals, including the City Manager, the new and retiring Police Chiefs and members of the Phoenix community.
The proposals for Community Interview Panels and a Candidate Forum have already been tried and tested in the recent recruitment of a new police chief to lead America's sixth largest city. The Centre for Public Safety visited Phoenix to find out more about the process by speaking to key individuals, including the City Manager, the new and retiring Police Chiefs and members of the Phoenix community.
The Centre for Public Safety urged the Mayor to change the selection process for policing’s top job, with community panels of Londoners picking a list of candidates.
When Jeri Williams is officially sworn in as Phoenix’s police chief on Oct. 28, she’ll become the first woman to lead the department. She’s also the first chief to undergo a very public interview process that attracted the attention of a former London police officer.
The Centre for Public Safety claims the government is “terrified” of engaging Londoners about candidates for the new Met Commissioner job.
A radical shake-up in selecting candidates for UK policing's top job would give the public a "voice" and spare a repeat of community relations' breakdowns, a think-tank claims.
The Centre for Public Safety, has called for an open system giving Londoners the opportunity to grill the candidates in a public forum.