No American policing for London

Prime Minister David Cameron's suggestion of putting the American police commander Bill Bratton in charge of London's police force met with strong opposition.

The ineptitude of London’s police force has humbled the nation, said The Telegraph in an editorial. During the first two nights of the recent riots, Britons were “stunned by the spectacle of riot police standing by while mobs cleaned out and torched shops and businesses.” The police have lost the public’s respect—and that’s dangerous for all of us. To win it back, the Metropolitan force needs firm new leadership. Prime Minister David Cameron had a terrific candidate in mind: Bill Bratton, a veteran police commander who has “proved brilliantly successful at bringing down crime” in several U.S. cities. With his mixture of “zero tolerance” and emphasis on community outreach, Bratton restored order in Los Angeles after the 1992 Rodney King riots. But the proposal to appoint an American met with sneering disdain from British police. Sir Hugh Orde, head of the police chiefs’ association, insisted that he “doesn’t want to learn about gangs from an area that has 400,” adding that in any case, “the British model is probably the top.”

Such mindless jingoism is maddening, said Stephen Pollard, also in The Telegraph. And that Home Secretary Theresa May would yield to it is truly “astonishing.” May actually overruled the prime minister, her ostensible boss, and decreed that no foreigners may apply for the job of Met Police commissioner. Perhaps if the Met were overrun with homegrown candidates, her ban might make sense, but in the first weeks since the resignation of the previous commissioner, there was exactly one applicant: Orde himself. Only after intense lobbying, even pleading, by the government did three other British officers deign to consider applying, two of them longtime Met insiders—hardly the reformers the force requires.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us