Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis is the head of London's Metropolitan Police Service, classing the holder as a chief police officer. The post is currently held by Sir Paul Stephenson QPM JP.
The Commissioner is regarded as the leading British police officer in the United Kingdom, despite the fact that the Commissioner's authority is generally confined to the Metropolitan Police. However, unlike other police forces the Metropolitan Police has certain national functions such as leading counter terrorism policing and protection of the Royal Family and Government Ministers. The rank is usually referred to as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, or simply just "Commissioner". The Commissioner's salary from 1 September 2010 is £260,088, more than sixty thousand pounds higher than that of any British police officer outside London.
The Commissioner of Police is senior to the Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioners, Deputy Assistant Commissioners, and Commanders.
The rank of Commissioner was created by the Metropolitan Police Act 1829, until 1855, the post was held jointly by two officers. The Commissioners were Justices of the Peace and not sworn constables until 1 April 1974. The title Commissioner was not used until 1839.
A Commissioner is always Knighted on appointment if he has not already been, as some Deputy Commissioners are also knighted. The insignia of rank is a crown above a Bath Star, known as "pips", above crossed tipstaves within a wreath, very similar to the insignia worn by a full general in the British Army. This badge is all but unique within the British police, shared only with the Commissioner of the City of London Police, the smallest territorial police force.
At one time, the commissioners were either retired military officers or civil servants. Sir John Nott-Bower was the first career police officer to hold the post, despite several previous Commissioners having served in senior administrative positions in colonial forces, and the Metropolitan Police itself. Sir Joseph Simpson was the first Commissioner to have started his career as the lowest rank of Constable. However, Sir Robert Mark, appointed in 1972, was the first to have risen through all the ranks from the lowest to the highest, as all his successors have done.
As of 2008, the post of Commissioner is appointed for a period of five years. Applicants are appointed to the post by Her Majesty The Queen, following a recommendation by the Home Secretary under the Police Act 1996.
As of 2010 the salary of the Commissioner of the Metropolis is £260,088.
Eligibility and accountability
As of 2008, applicants to the post of Commissioner must be British citizens, and be "serving UK chief constables or of equivalent UK ranks and above, or have recent experience at these levels". The post of Commissioner is "accountable to the Home Secretary; to the MPA, chaired by the Mayor of London; and must answer to Londoners and the public nationally"