Saturday, January 28

Dame Cressida Dick to stand down as Met police commissioner | Cressida Dick


Dame Cressida Dick is to stand down as commissioner of the Metropolitan police after a series of scandals.

The decision follows a public falling out with the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, who put her “on notice” that she had to rapidly reform the Met or lose his confidence in her leadership.

Dick has led Britain’s biggest police force since 2017 and her five-year term as commissioner was due to end in April this year. Her contract with her was extended by two years to 2024 only last September by the home secretary, Priti Patel, which Khan endorsed.

Khan’s confidence in Dick was shaken by a scandal at Charing Cross police station where officers shared racist, sexist, misogynistic and Islamophobic messages.

The London mayor was angered because of the 14 officers investigated, nine remain in the Met. Furthermore, two were promoted from constable to sergeant, one of whom had attended a misconduct meeting.

After details of the sickening messages – including remarks about the deaths of African babies – were made public, the mayor called Dick to a meeting where 90 minutes of discussions left him unsatisfied.

The Met commissioner is picked by the home secretary who has to have due regard for the views of London’s mayor, who is also the police and crime commissioner for London.

Government sources made it clear that if Khan declared he had lost confidence in Dick, she would be expected to stand down and ministers would not try to save her.

The souring of relations with Khan to the point where they became terminal came after the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) revealed shocking details of messages shared by Met officers between 2016 – the year before Dick became commissioner – and 2018. They were uncovered by accident

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One male officer wrote to a female officer: “I would happily rape you… if I was single I would happily chloroform you.”

The IOPC said the behavior was part of an offensive Met police culture, not just rogue individuals: “We believe these incidents are not isolated or simply the behavior of a few ‘bad apples’.” The Met had continued to deny the force was plagued by misogyny and racism.

Dick was the first female to be made leader of the Met since it was founded in 1829.

A series of scandals that raised questions about the police’s treatment of women also helped diminish Dick’s commissionership.

The Met leadership’s handling of the murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021 by a serving Met officer also caused consternation in City Hall and government.

After her killer was sentenced to a whole-life term in September 2021, the Met leadership was expected to show it understood the concerns. Instead it was mocked after saying that women who were worried about an officer approaching them could wave down a bus.

The Met announced its own inquiry, as have the government.

Dick was also personally criticized for the obstruction of an official inquiry into police corruption. The panel investigating the 1987 unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan lambasted Dick and labeled the Met as “institutionally corrupt”, which Dick denies.

A big expansion of stop and search resulted in falling African-Caribbean confidence in policing, and confidence generally in the Met fell dramatically during Dick’s term in office.

Highly intelligent and hard working, Dick, who earned a £230,000 salary, was said to have the demeanor of a civil service permanent secretary rather than a stereotypical police officer.

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www.theguardian.com

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