Sir Stephen House: Who is acting Met Police commissioner and why did he quit Police Scotland?

As Dame Cressida Dick steps down, Sir Stephen House will be acting commissioner until Priti Patel chooses the next-full time Met Police chief.

Sir Stephen House has been named as acting Metropolitan Police commissioner, until Priti Patel chooses the Yard’s next chief.

Dame Cressida Dick announced she was resigning from the role in February 2022 after saying she had “no choice” but to step down.

Sir Stephen is the current deputy commissioner for the Met Police and paid tribute to his boss saying that she is “the most outstanding police officer of her generation”.

Home secretary Priti Patel confirmed Sir Stephen would be stepping into the role until a permanent successor is found.

Here’s all you need to know about the new acting Met commissioner.

Sir Stephen House (left) defended Dame Cressida. Photo: Getty

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Who is Stephen House?

Sir Stephen House is the current deputy commissioner of the Met Police and has previously paved a successful career for himself despite scrutiny.

The 65-year-old was born in Glasgow in 1957 and has served various roles across England and Scotland.

Sir Stephen studied at Aberdeen University before rising through the ranks to take on further uniform roles at posts in Sussex, Northamptonshire and West Yorkshire Police forces.

He then joined the Metropolitan Police force in 2001 as a deputy assistant commissioner, after a three-year stint at Staffordshire Police, where he was an Assistant Chief Constable.

In 2005, Sir Stephen was awarded a Queen’s Police Medal and then rose in his role at the Met Police to become the assistant commissioner.

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He initially served in central operations at the Metropolitan Police before moving on to focus on specialist crime.

In 2007, he then became Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police, which is Scotland’s largest police force.

Sir Stephen then became Chief Constable of Police Scotland in October 2012.

In 2013, he earned a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to law and order.

House stepped down from his role as Chief Constable at Police Scotland after being “essentially sacked” from his role by Nicola Sturgeon, reports said..

After 35 years as a police officer, his time at Police Scotland was filled with scrutiny over his leadership of the force.

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Sir Stephen then retired from policing after his 35 year career in 2015.

In 2018, Sir Stephen rejoined the Metropolitan Police as assistant deputy commissioner and was promoted to deputy commissioner within a year of his return.

Sir Stephen is now set to temporarily take on the role of commissioner at the Met Police despite claims from some MPs that he is unfit for the role.

Sir Stephen House, deputy Met Police Commissioner, pictured here with Nicole Sturgeon when he worked for Police Scotland. Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Why did Sir Stephen House resign from Police Scotland?

After eight years in his role as Chief Constable at Police Scotland it was announced that Sir Stephen would be stepping down.

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He had been a police officer for more than 35 years and his time at Police Scotland saw him face fierce scrutiny over his leadership.

He had previously been highly praised for his work spearheading the forces focus on tackling domestic violence in Scotland.

Despite this, Sir Stephen came under fierce criticism about a number of incidents during his leadership.

This intensified after police took three days to respond to a fatal crash on the M9 in 2015.

The crash happened in July in Stirling and killed 28-year-old John Yuill and his partner Lamara Bell, 25, who died in a coma.

An inquiry into the crash took place, after officers failed to respond to incoming reports of the incident.

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Sir Stephen released a public apology saying: "Our duty is to keep people safe and we’ve not done that effectively on this occasion, with tragic consequences, and I want to apologise to everyone for that.

"That we failed both families involved is without doubt."

Sir Stephen House. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

During this time, officers at Police Scotland were also being investigated by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner.

This was following the death of Sheku Bayoh, who died in police custody in Kirkcaldy on May 2 2015.

The investigation is ongoing.

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A book by journalists David Clegg and Kieran Andrews titled Break-Up: How Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon Went to War explored Sir Stephen’s departure as Chief Constable.

Clegg and Andrews wrote that a meeting took place in the first minister’s office in 2015, adding that “House was effectively dismissed despite the employment of police officers, even those at the top of the force, not being a matter for politicians as part of efforts to maintain operational independence”.

In the book, the authors also quoted former senior aide to the first minister, Noel Doan, who made claims around how Sir Stephen lost his job regarding the M9 crash.

Mr Dolan said: “Stephen House essentially was sacked. He resigned but he essentially was sacked for a pretty poor reason.

"The main thing was the two people who died on the M9. Stephen House was held responsible for the behaviour of some junior call centre respondents because the police in central regional had f***ed it up. So there was a lot of pressure on him."

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Other Sir Stephen House controversies

Sir Stephen has also been embroiled in a number of controversies for recent comments as deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

In February 2021, he said that the Met would continue with their “disproportionate” stop and searches on young black Londoners.

Sir Stephen hit back against claims of discrimination saying that officers needed to focus on “where the problem lies” and that they were paid to use their brains.

In November 2021, he claimed that Met police officers were not entitled to anonymity for whistleblowing against their colleagues.

He was speaking at a meeting of the London Assembly police and crime committee, where he said that officers were not automatically protected by anonymity.

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Undated handout file photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, who murdered Sarah Everard is expected to challenge the length of his prison sentence at the Court of Appeal in early May.

When he was asked whether whistleblowers’ claims were handled confidentially, he said: “It depends on the circumstances.

“But, frankly, it is their duty as a police officer to report that, so they wouldn’t get anonymity as an automatic case and they may have to give evidence in court.”

Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael has spoken openly against Sir Stephen temporarily taking on the Commissioner role at the Met.

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The Orkney and Shetland MP raised concerns that the Met needed a “complete culture shift” before saying: “With all respect to Stephen House, his record as the head of Police Scotland is likely to attract questions and distract from the job at hand, which must be to make a clean break from past mistakes.”