Met police appoint new counter-terrorism chief

Neil Basu to succeed Mark Rowley in role viewed by many as toughest job in UK policing.

Scotland Yard has appointed a new counter-terrorism chief, viewed by many as the toughest job in British policing.

Neil Basu, a Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner, is to succeed Mark Rowley, who retires this month, as assistant commissioner responsible for leading counter-terrorism policing nationally.

Basu is a former Met commander overseeing organised crime and gangs. He has specialised in counter-terrorism policing for the past three years and was in effect Rowley’s deputy.

In the last year of Rowley’s tenure as head of counter-terrorism there were five terrorist attacks including atrocities at Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and Borough Market, Finsbury Park mosque, Parsons Green station and Manchester Arena.

Basu said: “It is a privilege to be asked to join the management board of the Met and to lead for CT policing at such a point in our history. It is both a challenge and a duty that I accept with humility and a sense of great purpose.”

He took up his current role as senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism in October 2016, in which he was responsible for delivering the police response to pursuing terrorists and the Prevent strategy.

He has worked as a detective in all ranks to detective superintendent in a range of areas including anti-corruption and homicide for the anti-gangs unit Trident. He has also held the posts of area commander for south-east London and head of armed policing within the Met. He will take over as assistant commissioner for specialist operations on 21 March.

Basu has been groomed for the top of the Met for years, serving as staff officer to the former commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.

 ^ Neil Basu has specialised in counter-terrorism policing for the past three years. Photograph: Marc Ward/Rex/Shutterstock

^ Neil Basu has specialised in counter-terrorism policing for the past three years. Photograph: Marc Ward/Rex/Shutterstock

He was the favourite for the top job in counter-terrorism and is well regarded by others in policing as well as by MI5, the domestic security service, which works closely with the police to thwart attacks.

During the wave of terrorist attacks in Britain last year he would have been seen up close and under pressure by senior security officials as well as the home secretary and prime minister.

Despite holding senior ranks he has not seen that as a bar to being outspoken on controversial issues. He criticised plans to stop armed officers conferring and more recently said government funding cuts jeopardised national security and called for reforms to Prevent, the official anti-radicalisation programme.

Basu is the first officer of Asian heritage to be appointed to the role. The Met hascome under fire for its lack of diversity across ranks so Basu’s appointment to a key senior role will be seen by some as a positive step.

Commenting on the appointment, the Met commissioner, Cressida Dick, said: “He is a leader of courage, compassion and integrity and I know he will do a great job.”

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said Basu’s promotion was well deserved and he had his utmost support. 

Read more: The Guardian