OPINION - The Standard View: A year in to the job, Sir Mark Rowley has far more still to do

 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

Sir Mark Rowley can no longer be described as the Metropolitan Police’s “new” Commissioner. And while a year into the job, Sir Mark may point to some areas of progress, he will know there is far more to do in order to turn Scotland Yard around.

Rarely in the force’s near 200-year history has its reputation been so damaged by a string of scandals and heinous crimes perpetrated by officers such as Wayne Couzens, David Carrick and Adam Provan. For an organisation as large and with responsibilities as wide ranging as the Met, it was always going to take time. But 12 months on, we must now switch to the delivery phase.

Sir Mark recently said that “cutting out the cancer” of rogue officers was the only way to deliver his other flagship policing priorities. To that end, the number facing misconduct hearings has risen to 260. This represents progress of sorts, but also speaks to the appalling state in which the Met finds itself.

Crime more broadly — that is, offences committed by those other than officers — is an ongoing challenge. More than 2,300 people (an average of 10 a day) were stabbed in the capital in the first eight months of 2023, representing a five per cent rise on last year. Anis Omar Zen, 19, became the 13th teenager to be killed in London this year, one away from 14 for the whole of last year — though still far short of the 30 in 2021, the bloodiest year on record for teen murders.

Sir Mark will also be keenly aware of recruitment issues within the Met. The force is set to be 1,500 short of the 10,000 target of new officers, with the Commissioner citing issues around culture, the cost of living as well as wider issues within the public sector.

The overarching aim must be to restore publictrust. In the year to June, trust in the Met Police fell another two per cent to an all-time low, according to City Hall’s Public Attitude Survey. Londoners are entitled to expect a police service on which they can rely, one that prevents crime, catches criminals and will be there for them in their time of greatest need. We remain some way off that ideal.

Oxford Street reborn

The battle against the American candy store invasion of Oxford Street has moved on to a new phase, as plans to give what was once Europe’s premier shopping street a “once-in-a-lifetime” overhaul have been greenlit.

While short of pedestrianisation, Westminster council’s proposals include wider pavements, redesigned crossings and new trees between Tottenham Court Road and Marble Arch. We hope this will encourage more big brands to join Ikea and HMW in opening on Oxford Street, giving shoppers a real reason to return.