Three of the top officers of the scandal-stricken Metropolitan Police have announced their departure five weeks before a new commissioner takes over the task of making sweeping changes.
All three were senior lieutenants of former Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, who was forced to resign in February after London Mayor Sadiq Khan accused her of failing to deal with a culture of misogyny and racism.
Sir Stephen House, who temporarily took charge of the force following Dick’s departure, will step down when Sir Mark Rowley begins his term as Commissioner on 12 September. House will lead an assessment of police operational productivity under the auspices of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
The Acting Deputy Commissioner, Helen Ball, announced that she will retire on October 31 after 35 years. And Nick Ephgrave, an assistant commissioner Rowley missed for the top job, will take a temporary position with the NPCC.
Applications for Ephgrave’s £206,274 a year job have appeared on the Met’s website.
Rowley praised the record of all three officers, but said he was delighted at the chance to introduce a new senior team.
Khan has said the new commissioner must commit to a thorough reform of the force. “I will not support the appointment of a new commissioner unless they can demonstrate that they understand the true extent of the cultural and organizational problems within the Met,” he said in June.
Dick resigned shortly after it was revealed that racist, misogynistic and homophobic messages had been sent by officers at Charing Cross Police Station.
The Met’s reputation had been affected by a series of disturbing cases, including the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by an on-duty police officer; two officers who shared photos on WhatsApp of the bodies of murder victims Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry; and an inspection report showing that 2,000 command cards were missing.
The Met continues to be plagued by criticism and scandal. On Monday, it was charged with “state-sanctioned” child abuse after records showed that 650 children had been searched over a two-year period. And the children’s commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, raised the alarm about racial disproportionality after the data showed that 58% of the children sought were black.
House previously served in various troops and was appointed chief constable of Police Scotland in 2012. During his tenure, however, he was criticized for his use of armed patrols and stopping and frisking.
He resigned in 2015 over the deaths of Lamara Bell and John Yuill, who lay undiscovered in a car wreck for three days despite a phone call from a member of the public.
But in 2018, he became an assistant commissioner at the Met and by the end of the year was promoted to deputy commissioner.
In a statement, Rowley said, “I am grateful to have the opportunity to build a new leadership team to move the Met forward.”
He added: “Sir Steve should be extremely proud of his track record as a police chief. His influence has left a lasting mark on the police force not only in London, but far beyond. I am grateful for his stewardship of the Met over the past few turbulent months and know that his priority has always been the safety of Londoners.”
Khan thanked House for his services, which he said “has played a significant role in the significant success we have had in reducing violence and making our communities safer”.
Ball joined the police force in 1987, but left for the Thames Valley Police Department in 2010 as an assistant chief constable. She later returned to her counter-terrorism police work before taking on the role of strategic leadership advisor at the College of Policing.
Ephgrave will lead the NPCC’s criminal justice portfolio on secondment. He began his career at the Met and became Surrey Police Chief in late 2015. In 2019, he returned to the Met as an assistant commissioner.
Rowley added: “Both Helen and Nick are formidable leaders of the utmost integrity who have devoted their careers to public service.
“I wish Helen all the best on her retirement and am delighted that Nick will use his wealth of experience from more than three decades of police work on this important work to achieve better outcomes for crime victims.”