Metropolitan Police appoints new head of media to replace Stearns

The Metropolitan Police has appointed Anna de Vries as its new head of media.

Anna de Vries: The new head of media at the Metropolitan Police
Anna de Vries: The new head of media at the Metropolitan Police
De Vries, who was formerly deputy head of media for the police force, succeeds Ed Stearns who announced that he was leaving the service after ten years in March.

In her new role, de Vries will lead one of the biggest media relations operations in the UK, with a 24/7 press bureau and numerous social media feeds.

She told PRWeek that the twin priorities in the comms operation were to develop more integrated internal comms and to demonstrate to the public what the Met was doing to tackle violent crime.

De Vries began her career at the Met in 1999 as an assistant publicity officer, following brief stints at the Police Complaints Authority and the Central Office of Information.

At the Met, she worked in the publicity team before postings in the press department looking after policing in the City of Westminster. 

De Vries spent much of her career handling public order and firearms-related media and was responsible for the first live filming of an armed response vehicle for broadcast media.

She has also led many large scale media operations whilst working with the Met including the media response to the Queen Mother’s funeral, the May Day protests and the Notting Hill Carnival.

De Vries spent two years working on and delivering the comms strategy to support the national safety and security operation around the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, between December 2010 and January 2013.

She has provided strategic media advice at all senior levels - including the commissioner - for the past decade. 

In 2017, De Vries led the comms response to numerous terror attacks including Westminster Bridge, drawing on her experience of leading the tactical comms response to the London terrorist attacks in July 2005.  

She also co-ordinated the media response to the funeral of PC Keith Palmer, who was murdered during last year’s Westminster Bridge attack, and to the Grenfell Tower disaster.

James Helm, director of comms at the Met, said: "I am delighted that Anna is taking on what is a key role. She knows the Met and the media, and is hugely trusted by the senior team here. I look forward to working closely with her."

De Vries said: It's a privilege to get such a brilliant role, leading a team of fantastically talented people.  The Met does great things day in and day out and to be a part of the team telling that story is, in my view, a great honour." 

De Vries also paid tribute to Stearns her former boss, who leaves the Met this week to join the London Legacy Development Corporation and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

She said: "I would also like to thank Ed, he has been a great boss, who has taught me so much and been truly supportive. I wish him all the luck in the world."

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