Sir Denis O’Connor

Inducted June 2011

Nominated by Rachel Tuffin, National Policing Improvement Agency


Sir Denis O’Connor is Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary. Before joining the Inspectorate, he was Chief Constable of Surrey between 2000 and 2004. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Southampton University and a MSc in Social Policy from the Cranfield Institute of Technology.

Sir Denis began his career with the Metropolitan Police eventually becoming Assistant Chief Constable in Surrey in 1991. He was later appointed the role of Deputy Chief of Kent, and then in 1997 took on the position of Assistant Commissioner in London, where he led the Metropolitan Police Service development strategy following the Stephen Lawrence Enquiry.

In 1996, Sir Denis was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal and later received a CBE in 2002 for his service to policing. He received a knighthood in 2010 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Prior to becoming Vice President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in 2003, he chaired the ACPO Performance Management Business Area and led the piloting of the National Reassurance Policing Programme; the pre-cursor to Neighbourhood Policing.

Over the years, Sir Denis has reviewed the fitness of the current police force structure, which resulted in the publishing of the 2005 report ‘Closing the Gap’. Other reviews undertaken during his tenure include ‘Intercepting Terrorism,’ a review published in October 2006 on police capabilities for counter terrorism, and ‘Getting Organised,’ a report published in October 2008 on serious and organized crime.

Other significant analysis, commentary and reviews overseen by Sir Denis include the issues arising from the death of Baby P, the Lessons to be Learned from Stockwell  a review of the policing of public protests in the context of G20; Value for Money in the police service; a review of Anti-Social Behaviour and most recently, a study into police availability.

Evidence-Based Research and Practice:

In addition to being the senior owner of the National Reassurance Policing Programme, Sir Denis O’Connor commissioned Professor Martin Innes (when Professor Innes was at Surrey University) to develop the signal crimes perspective as the basis for the reassurance policing programme and more recently (when Professor Innes had moved on at the Welsh Universities Police Science Institute) to carry out work on anti-social behaviour for a major HMIC review. He also commissioned a review of international comparative evidence using systematic principles on public order for an HMIC study after the G20 riots in London. The findings were reported in an interim report.

Contributions to Grants, Publications, and Projects:

  • Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). (2001). Reassurance – Civility First. A Proposal for Police Reform. London: Author.
  • O’Connor, D. (2010). Performance from the Outside-In. Policing 4(2):152-156.
  • O’Connor, D. (2001). Civility First – the reassurance concept. Criminal Justice Management(July, 26-27)
  • O’Connor, L., O’Connor, D. and Best, R. (eds.) (1998). Drugs: Partnerships for Policy, Prevention & Education. London: Cassell.
  • O’Connor, D. and Blowers, T. (1998) ‘Drugs: Making a difference through Drug Action Teams’ in Drugs: Partnerships for Policy, Prevention & Education. London: Cassell.
  • Tuffin, R., Morris, J., & Poole, A. (2006). An evaluation of the impact of the National Reassurance Policing Programme. Home Office Research Study 296. London: Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate.


Staff and board members at The College of Policing. Jon Enoch