Sean O’Neill in his blog at The Times is today suggesting that Ian McPherson, the current Chief Constable of Norfolk, is a shoe-in to be appointed as Assistant Commissioner (Territorial Policing) of the Metropolitan Police by a Panel of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) next week.
As a member of that Panel, I can state categorically that there is nothing foregone about the process we will be undertaking.
None of the candidates are internal and they are essentially unknown quantities to most of the Panel. Yes, Ian McPherson is the only sitting Chief Constable, but my guess is that this will not be a decisive factor in the decision-making. So the two Deputy Chief Constables will have to demonstrate how they can step up to Assistant Commissioner rank (equivalent in status to a Chief Constable with a budget larger than most Police forces), while the Chief Constable on the short-list will have to demonstrate his readiness to step back into a subordinate role (under a Commissioner and a Deputy Commissioner who has previously filled the equivalent Assistant Commissioner role).
So what is Sean O’Neill up to? Is he articulating what Sir Paul Stephenson (SPS as his staff call him) wants?
SPS is on record as saying that he doesn’t trust the Police Authority to make the right appointments would prefer to have sole responsibility for making appointments to his senior team (actually I am not sure that there is much evidence – if any – that the Metropolitan Police Authority has ever imposed on SPS anyone in his senior team he wouldn’t want). So was this a way of SPS signalling to the MPA who is his preferred candidate? I hope not. The Panel will – quite properly – make its decision on the performance of the three candidates in the selection process.
It is not for a newspaper – not even The Times – to try to prejudice the process.
And the proper way for SPS to get the candidate he wants (whoever that may turn out to be) is to evidence from what emerges in the selection process why his preferred candidate is the best qualified. And to present that evidence to the Panel as it makes its decision. And I am sure that’s the way it will happen.