Richard Walton

Distinguished Fellow


Richard Walton is a former Commander at New Scotland Yard, was Head of the Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) between 2011-2016 and spent the majority of his policing career in the counter terrorism field.

He began his career at Paddington Green before joining Special Branch in 1989. He then served for five years in a variety of specialist roles including domestic extremism, Irish and International terrorism, close protection and the Anti-Terrorist Branch during the Provisional IRA bombings of the early 1990s. Over this period he was commended twice for preventing terrorist acts in the UK.

During the London underground bombings of 2005, he co-ordinated the police counter terrorism response in COBR, the government’s crisis centre. He subsequently undertook a review that recommended the merging of Special Branch with the Anti-Terrorist Branch leading to the creation of the Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) in 2006.

He was promoted to Commander of the Counter Terrorist Command in June 2011 and was Head of Counter Terrorism for London during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, the UK’s largest peacetime policing challenge.

The Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command has a worldwide reputation for excellence and is regularly deployed internationally in the global fight against terrorism to assist countries in their response and to build their local capacity and capability. It has over 1800 officers and staff in sixty specialist units and a ‘local to global’ reach with officers deployed across London’s boroughs and in sixteen countries around the world.

During his nearly five years as head of SO15, Richard travelled extensively to countries affected by terrorism, providing advice to governments in South and South East Asia, the Middle East and East Africa and speaking at international conferences on the subject of combating terrorism. Over this period, SO15 has extended its international reach, doubling the number of counter terrorism officers deployed overseas.

Richard Walton featured in the Debrett’s 500 of the most influential people in Britain in recognition of his contribution to countering terrorism in 2015.

Richard Walton holds a BSc Hons degree in Policing and Police Studies from Portsmouth University and a MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics (LSE). With the advent of Al Qaeda related international terrorism, he undertook a Bramshill scholarship studying the ‘impact of global terrorism on security’ comparing ‘threat based’ approaches to countering terrorism with ‘risk based’ approaches.

Outside of policing, in 2001, Richard Walton co-founded The Educational Frontier Trust (TEFT) in 2001, a registered UK charity which he now Chairs that has funded the building of a secondary school for children from the desert region of northern Kenya. He has organised  number of fund raising activities for TEFT including cycling from London to Paris on two occasions and completing the Three Peaks Challenge.


Recent external publications

The Implications of Brexit on the UK’s National Security and Counter-Terrorism Capabilities

Latest publications

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