Former senior police officer Helen King shares vision for St Anne’s
Well-being and a concern for the vulnerable sit at the centre of the vision of first senior police officer to be appointed head of an Oxford College.
Helen King, the new Principal of St Anne’s College, has come to Oxford from the Metropolitan Police, where she was Assistant Commissioner.
In a wide-ranging interview with Oxford Today she named her first major initiative as ‘Be well do well’. ‘It expresses my aspiration for all students and staff here, to achieve their goals but also be healthy mentally and physically as well, living the lives they want to… – my position on all this is that you can’t do really well unless you are well.’
The post marks a return to the College for Ms King who graduated in PPE in 1983. She then joined the Cheshire Constabulary as a Police Constable in 1986 before working in uniform and CID roles across the county. In 2005, she transferred to Merseyside Police as an Assistant Chief Constable. She joined the Metropolitan Police Service as Assistant Commissioner for Territorial Policing in June 2014, later becoming Assistant Commissioner for Professionalism. She was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the New Year’s Honours list 2011.
Reflecting on why no previous police leader had headed an Oxford college, she said there was a stereotype of the police as ‘Practical people rather than as academics or thinkers – and yet they have to make pretty complex decisions all the time.’
She added that there were parallels between the social challenges which both the police and the University aim to address. ‘If you think about it, most of the time in policing, you’re working with the most vulnerable communities with some of the biggest challenges in society. St Anne’s prides itself on being connected and relevant to the outside world, allowing people to access an Oxford education who might not otherwise be able to. I hope my professional background can reinforce this – I’m never going to aspire to or portray myself as being from an ivory tower.’