Downing St denies chasing US 'supercop' to run police

6th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Prime Minister David Cameron's Downing Street office insisted Saturday it had not approached anyone to become Britain's next police chief, following a report that a US "supercop" had been targeted.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper said Downing Street had informally sounded out Bill Bratton -- a former police chief in Boston, New York and Los Angeles -- to take over as the next Metropolitan Police commissioner.

Bratton was a key figure in imposing "zero tolerance" policing in New York.

The broadsheet claimed Home Secretary Theresa May over-ruled Downing Street, saying any applicant for the top police job had to be a British citizen, as stated in the job advertisement.

Paul Stephenson announced his resignation as Scotland Yard chief on July 17 as the News of the World phone hacking scandal spread. He stepped down after revelations of links between senior officers and the Sunday tabloid.

Cameron last month raised the prospect of bringing foreigners into top police posts.

"Why shouldn't someone with a different skill set be able to join the police force in a senior role? Why shouldn't someone who has been a proven success overseas be able to help turn around a force at home?", he told parliament.

However, a spokesman for the premier's office said: "Downing Street has not approached anyone to become chief constable of the Metropolitan Police."

He added that proposals for foreigners to be made eligible for senior police posts was being considered by lawyer and former railways regulator Tom Winsor's review of police pay and conditions.

"The PM and home secretary both agree that we should look at radical proposals for the future of leadership in the police service," the spokesman said.

"That is what Tom Winsor, the government's independent reviewer of police pay and conditions, is considering and will make recommendations on."

The home secretary has the power to appoint the new Scotland Yard chief, after consulting with London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Citing government department sources, The Daily Telegraph said May had no objection to Bratton personally, but was uncomfortable about putting someone with no experience of British culture and policing in such a high post.

The current Met Police acting commissioner is Tim Godwin.

© 2011 AFP

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