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David Davis slams New Labour for police failures and calls for new leadership of the Met, perhaps from outside of Britain

By Tim Montgomerie
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DAVIS DAVID In a 1,500 word piece for ConservativeHome tomorrow, David Davis will set out the need for a revolution in British policing. The former Shadow Home Secretary will express his dismay at the police's early tactics:

"A police officer called to the scene of a bank robbery would not park across the street and wait patiently for it to finish, so why were the Met’s riot police little more than spectators during the looting?"

We'll publish the piece at 7am but, by way of preview, he calls for new leadership at the Met. He blames New Labour for the kind of leadership culture that has resulted in the Met's failure to control criminal gangs (a big part of his article) and to ensure order on the streets:

"We are suffering the consequences of a decade of politicised policing. To get on during the New Labour years, senior officers had to be a strange mix of health and safety conscious, politically correct target-chasers, in a world where bureaucracy swamped initiative. Along with the “Hackgate” cull, this has left the senior ranks of the police force very stretched in terms of the sort of free-thinking, innovative officers that will be required to deliver the reform of the police that Britain now so desperately needs."

"Rebuilding the confidence, competence, and reputation of our police force will," Mr Davis writes, "require toughness and courage." He concludes:

"We have some very good senior officers in our police force now, but in my view, not enough for the size of the task. So we should not be afraid to look outside the force, or outside the country, to find the best candidates for leading tomorrow’s police. Only with real and drastic change at the top can the police’s – and particularly the Met’s – reputation be restored."

Those three words "outside of the country" will be read - by some - as support for the view that US police chief Bill Bratton be brought in to run the Met. Bratton, who revolutionised policing in New York and riot-struck LA, has many admirers including Charles Moore, Melanie Phillips and apparently David Cameron. Theresa May has commissioned a review into police leadership which may end the current ban on outsiders leading police forces. At the moment you have to join as a constable and work your way up. This, say critics of the police, has led to stale thinking, tactics and leadership. Bratton might be the right leader for the Met but it is currently illegal to employ someone from outside of the EU.

6pm Update: 

I've been told there is no ban on those outside the police becoming chiefs. Michael Howard's 1996 Act has no such prohibition and legally anyone could be sworn in as a constable and appointed Commissioner by the Home Secretary. The barrier for someone like Bratton leading the Met is not a legal one but comes from APCO (the Association of Chief Police Officers - the police chiefs' trade union).

Thursday morning: David Davis' full article.

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