January 9, 2018 / 5:36 PM / 2 years ago

Britain's counter-terrorism police chief Rowley to retire

FILE PHOTO - Britain's top anti-terrorism officer, Mark Rowley, speaks to the media outside New Scotland Yard following a recent attack in Westminster, in London, Britain March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s top counter-terrorism police officer Mark Rowley will retire in March, the Metropolitan Police Service said on Tuesday, after a 31-year career in which he led efforts to curb a rise in militant attacks.

Rowley was the public face of the police’s counter-terrorism operations as attacks in Britain soared to their highest ever level last year, and he spearheaded the response to deadly incidents such as the London Bridge attack and the Manchester concert bombing.

Interior minister Amber Rudd thanked Rowley for “his commitment to tackling the terrorist threat” during his time as national policing lead for counter-terrorism, a role he has held since 2014.

“His leadership was especially apparent following the attacks last year when he provided the public with reassurance that we were being kept safe,” Rudd said in a statement.

Rowley joined the police in 1987. Before becoming Britain’s counter-terrorism chief, he had responsibilities for tackling organised crime and sexual violence, and changed the force’s approach to public order following riots in 2011.

He said that while his career had been rewarding, heading up Britain’s counter-terrorism efforts had been the “greatest privilege.”

“It was immensely sobering, but none the less the greatest honour for me, to lead the response to last year’s terrible events in Manchester and London, where I witnessed the extraordinary bravery and compassion of UK policing,” Rowley said in a statement.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison

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