New London police chief named

12th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Bernard Hogan-Howe was appointed as Britain's new police chief on Monday, a job which sees him take command of one of Scotland Yard's biggest security challenges yet -- the 2012 London Olympics.

Hogan-Howe, the acting deputy commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), made his name by cutting crime as head of the Merseyside force covering Liverpool in northwest England.

As the Met's new commissioner, he faces the task of rebuilding its reputation after his predecessor Paul Stephenson quit over the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World tabloid.

He must also seek to reassure Londoners after riots tore across the city in August, while dealing with the government's plans to cut police funding by 20 percent by 2014-15 as it attempts to tackle Britain's record deficit.

Hogan-Howe said he wanted to put fear in criminals and make officers proud of their force.

"It is clear to me that the men and women who work for the Metropolitan Police are dedicated and professional, and work for a service that London can be proud of," he said.

"It is my intention to build on public trust in the MPS and lead a service that criminals will fear and staff will be proud to work for."

Hogan-Howe was parachuted in to his acting deputy commissioner role after Stephenson and former assistant commissioner John Yates quit in the space of 24 hours in July over the News of the World scandal.

He was chosen for the commissioner's job by Home Secretary Theresa May and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

May said Hogan-Howe had "an excellent track record as a tough single-minded crime fighter".

"As you would expect for such a prestigious position, we had an exceptional field of candidates, but Bernard Hogan-Howe impressed us all with his vision for the Metropolitan Police, his commitment to cutting crime and the important work he has done for the public," she said.

Facing the cameras for the first time in his new job, Hogan-Howe said it was "the highest accolade that any police officer could have".

He beat off competition from outspoken former Northern Ireland police chief Hugh Orde, the Met's acting commissioner Tim Godwin and the head of Glasgow-based Strathclyde Police, Stephen House.

Orde upset ministers by criticising their actions over the riots.

The five-year post is worth £260,000 ($395,000, 300,000-euros) a year.

Johnson said Hogan-Howe would lead a more transparent operation at Scotland Yard and reassure riot-wary Londoners.

"Over recent weeks London has faced immense policing challenges and I truly believe that Bernard Hogan-Howe has the sound expertise to handle critical issues and keep our streets safe," he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron's original choice for the job is believed to have been Bill Bratton, the former New York and Los Angeles police chief, who was brought in to advise the British government after the riots.

But Bratton was ruled out after May insisted candidates for the job must be British.

Stephenson stood down after a long-simmering scandal over alleged phone hacking at the News of the World spiralled into a crisis which prompted the closure of the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid on July 7.

The Met had long faced accusations that an initial 2006 investigation into hacking was inadequate amid suspicions that some of its officers were too close to executives at Murdoch's News International.

Stephenson denied any wrongdoing but stepped down on July 17, saying he feared that the controversy could distract the force ahead of the Olympics.

© 2011 AFP

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