LONDON, Aug 18, 2011 (AFP) – London police are on the hunt for a new chief after a nightmare summer during which its boss quit over the phone-hacking scandal and the force was widely criticised for its failure to prevent riots. A month after Metropolitan Police commissioner Paul Stephenson and one of his deputies resigned in 24 hours, the deadline closed Wednesday for applications to become Britain’s top police officer leading the country’s biggest force. Stephenson’s resignation from the Met, as the force is known, came just weeks before Britain’s worst riots for decades erupted, meaning his deputy was left in charge as gangs went on the rampage for several nights in the capital. Four candidates are vying to become the third London police chief in as many years, a job which will require both a hardened crime fighter and a skilled political operator to raise the morale of the scandal-tainted force. With less than a year to go before Britain’s biggest peacetime policing operation at the London Olympics, the new chief will arrive at one of the toughest times in the force’s 180-year history. “At any time the role of police commissioner for Scotland Yard is the most prestigious…
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