The current acting chief, Tim Godwin, has applied and three other top policemen are also believed to be in the running for the job of Metropolitan Police Commissioner.
Whoever gets the £250,000 (€286,000) a year job, the most senior police post in the country, will oversee the force which has national responsibility for counter-terrorism, protecting Queen Elizabeth II and her family, and policing some 7.2 million Londoners.
The Met will also oversee next year’s London Olympic Games, expected to be Britain’s biggest peacetime security operation.
According to media reports, Stephen House, the head of Strathclyde Police in Scotland, is considered a front-runner, while the Met’s acting deputy Bernard Hogan-Howe and former Northern Ireland police chief Hugh Orde are also reported to have applied before today’s midday deadline.
The result is expected to be announced by the end of September.
The high-profile post, which has become something of a poisoned chalice in recent years, has been vacant since Paul Stephenson stepped down over the phone-hacking scandal that has embroiled the British newspaper arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp media empire.
Last year, the Met Police was criticised for its handling of student protests, accused of being too heavy-handed and too restrained in equal measure, while it was convicted in 2007 of breaking health and safety laws after officers shot dead an innocent Brazilian electrician mistaken as a suicide bomber.
Other damaging accusations have seen senior officers accused of being too close to some newspaper executives and failing to properly investigate the phone-hacking allegations,
The successful applicant will lead London’s force of more than 31,000 officers, 90 horses, 170 dogs and almost 8,000 volunteers.