Priti Patel will unveil a major ‘hire and fire’ shake-up for police chief roles and plans a ‘blueprint for succession’ for Met Commissioner Cressida Dick in the wake of the Sarah Everard tragedy
- Priti Patel is planning a major shake-up of how English police chiefs are chosen
- Wants to end ‘Buggins’ turn’ system of appointments on rotation instead of merit
- Comes in wake of brutal killing of Sarah Everard by Met officer Wayne Couzens
Priti Patel is set to unveil a major ‘hire and fire’ shake-up of how police chiefs are chosen in the wake of the Sarah Everard tragedy.
The Home Secretary plans a ‘blueprint for succession’ for Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and chief constables across England.
She will take action to end what allies condemn as the ‘Buggins’ turn’ system of how chief constables are taken on – one in which appointments seem to be made in rotation rather than by merit.
The shake-up emerged amid reports that Ms Patel only agreed to extend Dame Cressida’s term of office last month because there was no one suitable to replace her.
But her plans also follow claims of friction between the Home Secretary and the Met Commissioner, who has faced calls to quit in the wake of the brutal killing of Ms Everard by serving Met police officer Wayne Couzens in March.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is planning a ‘blueprint for succession’ for Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick (pictured together) and chief constables across England.
The Mail on Sunday understands that between Ms Everard’s disappearance and Couzens’s arrest, the Home Secretary privately asked Dame Cressida and her team if a police officer could be involved but was not told whether her suspicions were correct.
A source close to Ms Patel said the prospect of a policeman being responsible felt likely because Covid restrictions meant there were very few other people on the streets. The source said: ‘We asked the question.’
The Home Office is also understood to be annoyed that last week the Met chief announced a review in the force’s professional standards and internal culture 24 hours before Ms Patel announced a Government inquiry.
Ms Patel is said to be determined to watch Dame Cressida ‘very closely’ over the vetting of officers in light of Ms Everard’s murder.
Under reforms introduced by Theresa May in 2012, elected Police and Crime Commissioners hold the power to hire and fire chief constables in forces outside London.
Comes after Dame Cressida faced calls to quit in the wake of the brutal killing of Sarah Everard (pictured) by serving Met police officer Wayne Couzens in March
Ms Patel retains the power to appoint Metropolitan Police chiefs but must consult London’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan. Privately, Ministers admit he has an ‘effective veto’ as the Home Secretary could not in practice appoint a Met chief the mayor refused to work with.
A well-placed source declined to give details of Ms Patel’s proposals, but indicated that she wanted Home Secretaries to have a role along with PCCs in how chief constables were picked and dismissed.
The source denied the plans would involve reducing the powers of PCCs, but stressed the need for ‘greater accountability’ in how police chiefs were picked.
He would not say how the reforms, to be unveiled within months, would affect hiring a successor to Dame Cressida, who stays in post till 2024. ‘That’s to be decided,’ he said.
Ms Patel has said publicly she would ‘continue to work with’ Dame Cressida and continue to hold her and the Met to account.
Dame Cressida has acknowledged that a ‘precious bond of trust’ had been damaged by Couzens, who had ‘brought shame on the Met’.
But she has faced calls to resign, with Labour MP Harriet Harman saying the case has ‘shattered’ women’s confidence in the police.
Mr Khan’s spokesman said: ‘The murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer has severely damaged trust in the police.’
He said the Met had a ‘huge job to do to regain the trust of women, girls and all Londoners’ and the mayor will be holding them to account to deliver the necessary change.
A Met spokesman said last night that the force did not provide a ‘running commentary’ on the Commissioner’s calls with Ms Patel, adding that Couzens’s identity came as a ‘bolt from the blue’.
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