Cressida Dick Forced Out As Metropolitan Police Chief

London mayor Sadiq Khan withdraws support for under-fire commissioner after series of scandals.
Metropolitan Police chief Dame Cressida Dick.
Metropolitan Police chief Dame Cressida Dick.
Jonathan Brady via PA Wire/PA Images

Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has been forced out as head of the force after a series of controversies.

The under-fire police chief said earlier in the day she had “absolutely no intention of going”, but later admitted the mayor of London Sadiq Khan “no longer has sufficient confidence in my leadership to continue”.

In a statement, she made clear her resignation followed a meeting with the mayor which “left me no choice but to step aside”.

Dick’s leadership has been dogged by a series of scandals, including the murder of Sarah Everard by serving officer Wayne Couzens and racist, misogynist and homophobic messages exchanged by officers shared by officers at Charing Cross police station.

In a statement, Khan, said: “Last week, I made clear to the Metropolitan Police commissioner the scale of the change I believe is urgently required to rebuild the trust and confidence of Londoners in the Met and to root out the racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, discrimination and misogyny that still exists.

“I am not satisfied with the commissioner’s response.

“On being informed of this, Dame Cressida Dick has said she will be standing aside. It’s clear that the only way to start to deliver the scale of the change required is to have new leadership right at the top of the Metropolitan Police.

“I would like to thank Dame Cressida Dick for her 40 years of dedicated public service, with the vast majority spent at the Met where she was the first woman to become Commissioner. In particular, I commend her for the recent work in helping us to bring down violent crime in London – although of course there is more to do.

“I want to put on the record again that there are thousands of incredibly brave and decent police officers at the Met who go above and beyond every day to help keep us safe, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

“I will now work closely with the home secretary on the appointment of a new commissioner so that we can move quickly to restore trust in the capital’s police service while keeping London safe.”

In a statement, Dick said: “It is with huge sadness that following contact with the Mayor of London today, it is clear that the Mayor no longer has sufficient confidence in my leadership to continue.

“He has left me no choice but to step aside as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.”

Hours earlier, when asked by the BBC if she should step down she said: “I have absolutely no intention of going and I believe that I am and have been, actually for the last five years, leading a real transformation in the Met.”

The resignation comes less than six months after her contract as the head of the UK’s largest police force was extended by two years, a role she described as being the “greatest honour and privilege of my life.”

The first female, and openly gay, commissioner has served more than 30 years in uniform.

Dick’s resignation has sparked polarised reactions, with critics “delighted” while supporters are “deeply saddened”.

Alastair Morgan, who has spent decades campaigning for justice for his brother Daniel, who was killed with an axe in a pub car park in Sydenham, south-east London, in the 1980s, said Dick has “disappointed” his family on every level.

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “The first time I dealt with Cressida Dick was in 2012 and since then all she has done in relation to my family is just delay, obstruct and disappoint on a huge level.

“Although I think it is a shame that we are seeing another commissioner disappear under a cloud of smoke, it is necessary.

“My only anxiety now is who is going to replace her and face the massive job in front of them of rebuilding confidence in the Met.”

Former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor, whose house was raided by officers from the Met’s failed Operation Midland launched in reaction to false allegations by jailed fantasist Carl Beech about a murderous VIP paedophile ring, said he was delighted by the news.

“It is now time to clean the Augean stables so that a full inquiry can be conducted on all her personal mistakes,” he said.

Campaign group Reclaim These Streets, which is bringing a legal challenge against the force over its handling of a Sarah Everard vigil, simply tweeted: “Good Riddance.”

Patsy Stevenson, who was arrested at the vigil, was pleased that Dick had gone.

“We need to focus as well on this not being a token gesture,” she said.

“This does not fix anything, and I just hope that whoever is in charge next understands that radical change needs to be implemented to fix the systemic issues within the Met.”

Police detain Patsy Stevenson as people gathered at a memorial site following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard.
Police detain Patsy Stevenson as people gathered at a memorial site following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard.
Hannah Mckay via Reuters

Prime minister Boris Johnson also praised the outgoing commissioner for serving with “great dedication and distinction over many decades”.

“I thank her for her role protecting the public and making our streets safer,” he tweeted.

Home secretary Priti Patel said Dick “held the role during challenging times” and “exemplified the increasingly diverse nature of our police” as the first woman to hold the post.

“She would be the first to say that she has held the role during challenging times; yet for nearly five years she has undertaken her duties with a steadfast dedication to protecting our capital city and its people, including during the unprecedented period of the pandemic,” Patel said.

Prior to being made commissioner, she was head of the operation that led to the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in Stockwell in 2005.

While in her role as leader of the Met, she faced criticism over the case of Sarah Everard’s murder at the hands of a serving officer, and the subsequent treatment by the police of mourners at a vigil in Clapham Common.

Two inquiries are now under way looking at the culture within the Met – one by Baroness Casey that was organised by the force itself, and a Home Office probe headed by Dame Elish Angiolini that is looking at the failures behind the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer.

– The Charing Cross report

A report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) revealed highly offensive language used on WhatsApp and in Facebook chats by officers from a now disbanded team based in Westminster, primarily at Charing Cross police station.

Last Tuesday, the watchdog took the unusual step of publishing the messages in full, despite many of them being too offensive to print as part of mainstream news coverage, because it said it was important for the public to know.

Officers made repeated jokes about rape, domestic violence, violent racism, and used homophobic language and derogatory terms for disabled people.

One officer bragged about having sex with a sex worker he met on duty.

Khan put Dick “on notice” following the exposure of the messages, before eventually forcing her to resign by saying he had lost confidence in her leadership.

– Wayne Couzens

Ex-Pc Wayne Couzens was handed a whole-life term in September after kidnapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard, 33.

Couzens abducted Ms Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.

The Metropolitan Police firearms officer, who had been “hunting” for a victim, used his warrant card and handcuffs to snatch the marketing executive off the street using Covid lockdown rules to make a false arrest.

Couzens, had been assigned to the parliamentary and diplomatic protection branch of the force, which protects government buildings and the Palace of Westminster.

Patel has since launched an inquiry into the crime.

Led by Dame Elish Angiolini QC, the inquiry will look at whether any “red flags were missed” earlier in his career.

– Sarah Everard’s vigil

Reclaim These Streets (RTS) proposed a socially-distanced vigil for Everard, near to where she went missing in Clapham, south London, in March last year.

However, they were denied permission to hold the organised vigil, with police citing coronavirus regulations.

Instead a spontaneous vigil took place, which ended with police forcibly clearing women from the scene.

The force was heavily criticised for its actions, but later cleared by a police watchdog.

The report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services concluded the police “acted appropriately” when dealing with the event, but also found it was a “public relations disaster” and described some statements made by members of the force as “tone deaf”.

– The death of Daniel Morgan

Daniel Morgan died in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south-east London, on March 10 1987, and a string of unsuccessful investigations into his death have been mired with claims of corruption.

In June this year, an independent report accused the Met of institutional corruption over its handling of the case, saying it had concealed or denied failings to protect its reputation.

Dick apologised to Mr Morgan’s family, saying it was a “matter of great regret that no-one has been brought to justice and that our mistakes have compounded the pain suffered by Daniel’s family”.

– The photos of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman

Pcs Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis, formerly of the Metropolitan Police, were jailed for two years and nine months each in December for taking photographs of the bodies of sisters Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, and sharing them with friends and colleagues on WhatsApp.

Jaffer and Lewis were assigned to guard the scene after the sisters were found dead in bushes in Fryent Country Park, Wembley, north-west London.

Instead, the officers moved from their posts to take photographs of the bodies, which were then shared with colleagues and friends on WhatsApp.

One was a “selfie-style” image on which Lewis had superimposed his face.

The officers’ behaviour also included describing the victims as “dead birds” on WhatsApp groups.

Afterwards, the Metropolitan Police apologised to the victims’ family for the defendants’ “shameful” and “utterly unprofessional” actions.

– The shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes

Brazilian man Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead at Stockwell Tube station in south London on July 22 2005 by an officer who mistook him for a terrorist.

Dick came under scrutiny when she was in charge of the operation that led to his death, but was later absolved of any blame by a jury.

Appearing on Desert Island Discs in 2019, she described it as an “awful time”, adding: “I think about it quite often.”

“I wish, wish, wish it hadn’t happened, of course, but if anything it has made me a better leader, a better police officer and it has made me more resilient,” she said.

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