Stephen Watson is amongst the most experienced senior police officers in the country, having joined Lancashire Constabulary in 1988. He was appointed to Merseyside Police in 2006 on promotion to Chief Superintendent, where he initially headed the force’s Strategic Development Department. He subsequently served for three years as Area Commander for Liverpool North, one of the largest and most challenging Basic Command Units in the country.
In 2011, he was appointed to the Metropolitan Police as Commander for the East Area, with responsibility for all aspects of operational policing across nine London boroughs. This dynamic and diverse area is home to over 2.3 million Londoners, and he held command of 6,250 police officers and staff with a total operating budget of £325 million.
As a qualified firearms and public order commander, he regularly performed Gold Command roles in a number of high-profile policing operations and critical incidents, including a fatal helicopter crash in central London, and in working with partner agencies across East London so as to restore public confidence in the aftermath of the 2011 riots. As a senior member of the 2012 Olympic Command Team, he was awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation in recognition of his role, which involved the planning and delivery of all territorial policing across London throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In June 2015 Stephen returned to the north of England, having been appointed Deputy Chief Constable for Durham Constabulary, and in July 2016 he took up his appointment as Chief Constable for South Yorkshire Police (SYP). During his tenure, SYP became one of the most improved forces in the country for three consecutive years and is today amongst the very top tier of high-performing forces.
Stephen became Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police in May 2021.