HARROW'S top police officer is leaving the borough to become the Metropolitan Police Commissioner's
right-hand man.

Chief Superintendent Richard Walton, Borough Commander for Harrow, will leave his post next month to become Staff Officer to Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.

Mr Walton's new duties will be to brief Sir Paul on a daily basis, making sure he is up to speed on the major issues affecting the Met.

He told the Harrow Times: “Anything I can do to help the commissioner would be a privilege and an honour.

“There is only one staff officer at any one time, so it will be quite a pressured and quite a demanding role.”

Mr Walton took control in Harrow in April 2007, having previous served in Camden, Paddington Green, Stoke Newington, Barnet, and as an inspector in Harrow.

In 2002, he was put in charge of the Met's Project Sapphire, dedicated to tackling rape and serious sexual assault, and spearheaded a move to introduce a Sapphire unit in each London borough.

Reflecting on more than two years in charge of Harrow police, Mr Walton pointed to improvements in the town centre as one of his major achievements.

He said: “I am proud of the work we have done in the town centre to resolve problems with crime and disorder.

“The crime were symptoms that we didn't have a complete grip on the town centre, and now we have got a grip there.”

When he took over the role, Mr Walton said he was a “massive fan” of Safer Neighbourhood Teams, and was pleased with the work they now did on a daily basis in the Harrow communities.

He said his successor, due to be announced this week, will have to tackle long-standing problems of crime, disorder, and drug-dealing in Wealdstone.

He said: “Wealdstone is not a quick fix, there are a complex set of circumstances.

“Crime and antisocial behaviour around the High Street a lot of evenings needs to be resolved.

“You also can't be complacent about cohesion. There is wonderful diversity in the borough, but you can't assume everyone is going to get along.”

Gareth Thomas, MP for Harrow West, praised Mr Walton's leadership: “Richard has been an excellent officer and I'm sorry to see him go.

“He has always been an extremely accessible officer and when I have taken cases to him, he has always handled them extremely sympathetically and effectively.”

Councillor David Ashton, leader of Harrow Council, which has formed a strong working relationship with Harrow Police under Mr Walton, said: "We will be sorry to see move on, but we wish him the very best.

"The working we have built up between the council and the policeshould serve as an example for other boroughs within the capital."