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‘Get basics right and promote better standards’: Stark orders for new head of Metropolitan Police | UK News

The home secretary has spelled out to the new Scotland Yard commissioner the vast improvements she is demanding in his force’s culture and performance.

Priti Patel writes in a letter to Sir Mark Rowley: ‘It is absolutely vital that trust and confidence is restored and that visible, responsive policing which cuts crime is at the forefront.

“I expect the Metropolitan Police under your leadership to get the basics right and provide the first-class service expected of it.”

Sir Mark starts his job in a week’s time after the controversial departure of his predecessor Dame Cressida Dick, who quit after clashing with London Mayor Sadiq Khan, though she was supported in a recent independent report on her resignation.

The home secretary writes: “I also expect you, as commissioner, to promote better leadership and higher standards at every level throughout the force.”

Under Dame Cressida, the Metropolitan police force was castigated over a series of scandals that led to questions over its culture and standards; the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by off-duty PC Wayne Couzens, the taking and sharing of photographs of two murdered sisters by officers, the racist and misogynist text message-sharing by officers at Charing Cross police station and the strip-searching of a young black schoolgirl.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley from the Metropolitan Police, together with Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies, make a statement to the press concerning Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia who were poisoned by a nerve agent in the centre of Salisbury, outside Scotland Yard in central London, Britain, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
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Mark Rowley was former assistant commissioner

The force is one of six put into special measures by the police watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services which recently condemned policing in England and Wales for poor performance, especially over burglary, robbery and other acquisitive crime.

‘Failing’

Ms Patel writes: “That report found that on too many occasions the Met, as a force, is failing to get the basics right when dealing with these crimes, which cause immense distress to the public.

“It is deeply disappointing and unacceptable that many police forces are falling short.

“You know my view that there is an essential requirement across policing to raise the bar on standards and to get the basics right.

“As the largest force in the country, it is right for the Met to set an example in how to deal with crimes of this kind and also to beat crime down.”

Read more:
Third Metropolitan Police child strip-search case under investigation, watchdog says
Who is Sir Mark Rowley?

Ms Patel also tells the new commissioner she expects him to make sure the Met meets its target of 4,557 new officer recruits and boosts non-police staff by March next year.

She adds in her letter: ‘It will no doubt be a challenging time for the force, but I have every confidence that under your leadership these challenges can be overcome.”

Sir Mark retired from Scotland Yard in 2017 as an assistant commissioner after leading the Counter Terror Command and after being beaten to the top job by Dame Cressida.

He was appointed in July and said at the time: “Our mission is to lead the renewal of policing by consent, which has been so heavily dented in recent years as trust and confidence have fallen.

‘We will deliver more trust, less crime and high standards for London and beyond, and we will work with London’s diverse communities as we together renew the uniquely British invention of ‘policing by consent’.”

Ben Wallace: Defence secretary orders audit of military flying training as RAF leadership in ‘tailspin’ over leaks | UK News

The defence secretary has ordered an internal inspection of the UK’s military flying training after Sky News revealed the system to generate RAF pilots is in crisis, it can be revealed.

The move by Ben Wallace is an embarrassing blow for Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, the head of the Royal Air Force (RAF), a defence source said.

Mr Wallace gave his chief of the air staff the task of fixing the RAF’s problem-plagued flying training pipeline as his only priority more than two and a half years ago.

However, leaked documents exposed by Sky News last Friday showed that nearly 350 trainee pilots – more than half of the total pool of RAF, Royal Navy and army trainee aviators – were in limbo as of May.

They are either holding for a slot on a flying training course to open-up or taking a refresher course.

The Royal Air Force's Typhoon Eurofighter jets are made by BAE Systems

It can also be revealed that these so-called “holdies” have effectively been warned the leaking of the documents that shed light on their predicament might even worsen their situation rather than improve it.

A message, which has since been seen by Sky News, was distributed widely throughout the RAF, warning against leaking information to the media.

RAF leadership in ‘tailspin’ over leaks

The author of the official-sounding note said they suspected Air Chief Marshal Wigston and the rest of the senior RAF leadership “are in a total tailspin about this”.

“They will feel let down and disappointed,” the note said.

“They will now be less likely to view the student cohort’s predicament favourably, too.

“Would you, in their position. The military is all about trust, if you betray that knowingly by leaking reams of official information (it’s not exactly a small slip-up in a personal post on social media!), then you can expect that betrayal will have consequences.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson confirmed Mr Wallace had instigated the internal inspection, known as a Defence Operational Capability (DOC) audit.

“At the direction of the defence secretary, the MOD is conducting an internal audit of flying training, in recognition of continued challenges with the training pipeline.”

The scope of the audit is still being defined, it is understood.

Four Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 have arrived at RAF Akrotiri after transiting from the UK. UK’s substantial contribution to NATO’s uplift in Eastern Europe is strengthening the Alliance’s Defences on land, sea and air, amid ongoing tensions with Russia. Issue date: Wednesday February 16, 2022.

Hundreds of DOC audits taken place in 30 years

The DOC mechanism was set up in 1995 when Malcolm Rifkind was defence secretary.

It is a tool a defence secretary can use to secure what is meant to be impartial analysis on a topic.

The team of personnel that conduct the audit will sit outside the chain of command of whatever is being inspected, giving it more independence.

Some 220 audits of various issues have taken place over the past nearly three decades.

On flying training, the MOD has already acknowledged that there are challenges to the training pipeline and said that the number of pilots being held now is less than in 2019.

The length of the holding time for trainees can vary from months to even years.

The reasons for the delays are multiple, including most recently a fault with the Rolls Royce-made engine on the Hawk aircraft used to train fast jet pilots.

Four Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 have arrived at RAF Akrotiri after transiting from the UK. UK’s substantial contribution to NATO’s uplift in Eastern Europe is strengthening the Alliance’s Defences on land, sea and air, amid ongoing tensions with Russia. Issue date: Wednesday February 16, 2022.

Ukraine war has put pressure on RAF pilots

Demands on the RAF to fly more missions to defend NATO allies in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine also put pressure on the small pool of pilots that are qualified to fly operationally and to instruct trainees.

In addition, a sweeping review of defence last year made changes to the types of aircraft needed on the frontline, which has reduced the number of places available for trainee pilots.

More broadly, pilot training has been under chronic strain since the mid-1990s as successive governments repeatedly cut chunks out of the size of the armed forces, including the RAF, and contracted out large parts of the flying training system to industry.

Under pressure from the Treasury to make as many efficiency savings as possible, the RAF then designed its contractor-run flying training pipeline to meet a minimal requirement rather than include spare capacity to be able to absorb shocks if things go wrong.