Page last updated at 02:54 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Met was dysfunctional, says Sir Paul Stephenson

Sir Paul Stephenson
Sir Paul gave his first major radio interview since his appointment

The chief of the Metropolitan Police has said parts of the force were "dysfunctional" before he took over a year ago.

Sir Paul Stephenson blamed infighting between senior officers.

He also said there had been a lack of progress in tackling organised crime across police borders since he took charge at Scotland Yard.

Sir Paul's comments came on BBC Radio 4's Today programme in his first major radio interview since his appointment.

But he said the Met was a "happier" force than it was before.

Lower profile

There was a level of dysfunctionality over a period at the senior level - and I'm not making accusations against individuals - that's in our past
Sir Paul Stephenson

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says when Sir Paul took up his post he said he did not want to be a "celebrity".

The remark was widely interpreted to be a reference to his predecessor Sir Ian Blair, who was seldom out of the headlines.

The low point of Sir Ian's tenure came when his most senior Asian officer, Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, publicly alleged Sir Ian had discriminated against him - a claim he later withdrew.

Sir Paul told the Today programme: "There was a level of dysfunctionality over a period at the senior level - and I'm not making accusations against individuals - that's in our past."

Our correspondent says the new commissioner has kept a lower profile than Sir Ian and steered clear of giving views on policing policy.

But Sir Paul re-stated his belief that unless some police forces merged they would continue to lack the "capability" to tackle serious organised crime.

Photo dispute

Sir Paul also told the programme he did not want tourists and other members of the public stopped and questioned for taking photographs of London landmarks.

There is a growing dispute about the way anti-terrorism powers are used to question people photographing high-profile sites.

Police have released video footage taken by a man they believe was scouting for a terrorist attack, and who has since been found guilty of a criminal offence and deported.

But Sir Paul admitted the powers had to be used with care.

"We need to recognise that London is an iconic city and people come here to photograph this city and they should be allowed to do it without interference unless there is very, very good reason to suspect somebody doing something wrong," he said.

"Occasionally, some police officers might get it wrong, PCSOs [Police Community Support Officers] might get it wrong, it's my job to ensure we get that right balance."



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