Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM has announced that he is to retire after five years as the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service. Sir Bernard will remain in post until February next year to allow the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, and Sadiq Khan (the Mayor of London) to appoint a successor.
Sir Bernard was appointed to the role on 12 September 2011. His first significant challenge was to lead the response to the London riots, convicting the criminals responsible and making sure his officers were properly prepared such that they could be mobilised at speed to avoid losing control of the streets.
Under Sir Bernard’s direction, the Metropolitan Police Service ran a successful security operation to ensure the 2012 London Olympics were played out in safety. He also made a public commitment to reduce crime, which has duly fallen by around 18% during his time as Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner.
The Commissioner has focused the Metropolitan Police Service on making London the safest global city, reducing knife and gun crime through a determined war on gangs.
Throughout Sir Bernard’s period as Commissioner, London has faced an evolving threat from international terrorism. Conflicts in Syria and Iraq have created fears of a new generation of people being radicalised with intent on bringing violence to Western cities. The murder of soldier Lee Rigby in 2013 made that threat a reality. Rigby’s attackers were stopped by firearms officers from the Metropolitan Police Service and later convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Following the terrorist attacks in Paris last year, the Commissioner ordered a significant increase in the number of firearms officers in London and stepped up the number of armed patrols operating across the capital.
Public confidence in the Metropolitan Police Service has risen during Sir Bernard’s time as Commissioner. His promise of ‘Total Victim Care’ – a key pillar of his ‘Total Policing’ philosophy that worked so well during his time as chief constable at Merseyside Police – has seen a marked increase in satisfaction with the Met’s service.
Acute financial challenges
As has been the case for police forces across England and Wales, the Commissioner’s period in office has been marked by acute financial challenges. The Metropolitan Police Service has already saved more than £600 million and sold its historic headquarters at New Scotland Yard for £370 million. It will move its headquarters and the famous spinning sign to a refurbished police building in a few months’ time.
Sir Bernard has kept 32,000 police officers in London – the only force to maintain front line officer numbers – and has constantly pushed the Metropolitan Police Service to increase the number of its officers hailing from minorities, which now stands at its highest-ever level. The Commissioner has also overseen a dramatic reduction in the number of Stop and Search episodes carried out on the capital’s streets.
“I’m so proud of the remarkable men and women who serve Londoners as police officers and staff and make this such a safe place for people to live in, work or visit,” explained the Commissioner. “I want to thank all of them for what they do, and the risks they take each and every day to protect the public. I also want to thank all of the partners with whom we work in Government, in City Hall and across London, and I also want to thank the public for the support they show the Met, and have shown me personally, as we do our difficult jobs.”
Sir Bernard added: “I came into this job determined to fight crime and make the Metropolitan Police Service the best and most professional police service. I wish my successor well as they take on this amazing responsibility. It has been a great privilege to be the Met’s Commissioner. I have loved my time in the role, and I have loved being a police officer. It’s the most rewarding of jobs to be able to protect the good people and lock up the bad guys.”
Following the announcement of Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe’s retirement, National Police Chiefs’ Council chair Sara Thornton has offered thanks on behalf of all chief officers for his contribution to policing not just in London, but also on the national stage.
Thornton stated: “Sir Bernard has led the Metropolitan Police Service through a period involving challenges posed by terrorism, changing crime and reduced budgets with integrity, determination and a focus on protecting all Londoners. On behalf of all chief officers, I want to thank Sir Bernard for his contribution to policing. We look forward to continuing to work with him in the near future and wish him the very best for his retirement from the world of policing.”