Met Police picks former government comms chief to replace Martin Fewell

The Met has appointed a former government comms chief and senior BBC journalist as its new director of media and comms.

James Helm: His career has spanned journalism, government comms and consultancy
James Helm, who is currently a partner at Portland, was announced by the Met as its new comms chief this week and he will take up his role early next year.

Helm was director of comms at the Department for International Development between 2010 and 2016, where he led an award-winning team that campaigned on global issues, as well as responding to humanitarian emergencies.

At the department, Helm oversaw strategic comms and campaigns, media relations and press handling, as well as internal comms, crisis comms and DfID’s reputation.

While there, he provided advice and counsel to ministers and senior officials, as well as working on comms strategies with partners in the private sector and other government departments, including Downing Street and the Foreign Office.

Before DfID, Helm also worked for a short period in the Government’s now defunct Central Office of Information, where he was a group client director, working with agencies and other government departments.

He also spent two years at Blue Rubicon as a consultant where he focused on the energy, utilities and financial services sectors.

I’ve been very fortunate to work with some really smart people in the private and public sectors.

James Helm, incoming director of comms at the Met, commenting on his career to date
Helm, who studied social and political science at Cambridge, began his career as a reporter on the Newcastle Evening Chronicle before joining the BBC News trainee scheme.

He spent the next 12 years at the BBC as a TV and radio correspondent, presenter and producer, working on BBC World TV, Radio 4 and World Service Radio.

During his time with the broadcaster, Helm was its Dublin correspondent for five years, covering the Northern Ireland peace process.

He also reported on politics and general news between 1995 and 2002 and covered the US presidential elections, UK general election and the 7/7 attacks.

Fewell was credited with transforming the Met’s digital content as well as its intranet as a portal for sharing information and best practice, during his tenure.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick welcomed Helm’s appointment and said he had a "great track record" in his field.

Commenting on his career to date and how this might inform his role at the Met, Helm told PRWeek: "I’ve been very fortunate to work with some really smart people in the private and public sectors, and most recently I have been part of a brilliant team of international consultants here at Portland. I have hopefully learned from them along the way."

He continued: "From across government, and from the daily work of the Government Communications Service, I have seen how communications can be a force for public good, delivering results. I’ve also seen how new, digital tools can be used to engage audiences in fresh ways that really matter for people."

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