UK appoints counterterror cop to head troubled London police

LONDON (AP) — Veteran counterterrorism police officer Mark Rowley will be the new chief of London’s troubled Metropolitan Police force, the British government said Friday.

Rowley, who was head of counterterrorism at the force between 2014 and 2018, becomes commissioner of Scotland Yard after a string of controversies undermined public confidence in the country’s largest police force. He will have the task of restoring the reputation of a force that was last month placed in “special measures” by the country’s police watchdog.

Rowley’s predecessor Cressida Dick quit in February after falling out with London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who said Dick wasn’t doing enough to tackle allegations of misogyny and racism in police ranks.

Rowley, 57, promised to “fight crime with communities – not unilaterally dispense tactics.”

“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,” he said.

The force has been under intense pressure to reform since a serving police officer, Wayne Couzens, was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering a stranger, Sarah Everard, while she was walking home at night in London in 2021. The police force’s subsequent handling of vigils and protests against Everard’s slaying also came under heavy criticism.

Earlier this year, an investigation slammed a culture of misogyny, bullying and sexual harassment at one London police station, Charing Cross.

The force has been criticized for the way it handled the case of two Black sisters murdered in a London park in 2020 — their bodies found by a family search party because police weren’t looking for them — and for failing to stop serial killer Stephen Port, who drugged and killed four young men he met online.

Rowley’s start date hasn’t been announced.

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