Islington and Camden police chief to leave Met after 29 years

Ch Supt Raj Kohli. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Ch Supt Raj Kohli. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey - Credit: Archant

Islington and Camden’s most senior police officer is leaving the Metropolitan Police after 29 years.

Ch Supt Raj Kohli, who heads the combined force for the two boroughs, will transfer to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight police service in September. 

He has led the central north basic command unit (BCU) – the name police use for Camden and Islington – since January 2019. In March of that year, Ch Supt Kohli told the Ham&High he would stay in the role until retiring in 2022. 

“But I said that before Covid took place,” he said. 

“We as a family have lost some friends because of Covid, people who had planned all sorts of things when they retire, they haven’t even retired.” 

Ch Supt Kohli and wife therefore decided to bring forward their move out of London, which they had originally planned for when he retired. 

He will also be extending his policing career, pushing his retirement back by two years, to 2024 at the earliest. 

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The 54-year-old said he was sad to be leaving London and “nervous but excited” for his new role as Chief Superintendent in Hampshire. 

“I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat,” Ch Supt Kohli said. 

He has worked as head of the BCU through the pandemic as well as last year’s protests in response to the murder of George Floyd in the US. 

He said that because of these challenges, “legitimacy in policing has been significantly questioned, more so than all of my time in the organisation.” 

Ch Supt Kohli said he felt “uncomfortable” issuing tickets for breaching Covid restrictions, another tough part of the last year for the seasoned cop. 

He called the murder of Sarah Everard by police officer Wayne Couzens in March last year “heart-breaking”. 

Sarah’s kidnapping from the streets of South London triggered nationwide debates around women’s safety. 

Ch Supt Kohli says he told his force: “Don’t intervene when it looks unsafe. Intervene when it looks uncomfortable,” like when a woman is catcalled.

“[In] my view, we need to police out behaviours that make women uncomfortable to stop those behaviours growing into making women feel unsafe.” 

Ch Supt Kohli is set to formally leave the Met Police at the end of September.