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.
Dame Cressida 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 was extended by two years to 2024 only last September by the home secretary, Priti Patel, which Mr Khan endorsed.
Mr Khan’s confidence in Dame Cressida 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 Dame Cressida 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 Mr Khan declared he had lost confidence in Dame Cressida, she would be expected to stand down and ministers would not try to save her.
The souring of relations with Mr 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 Dame Cressida became commissioner – and 2018. They were uncovered by accident.
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 behaviour was part of an offensive Met police culture, not just rogue individuals: “We believe these incidents are not isolated or simply the behaviour of a few ‘bad apples’.” The Met had continued to deny the force was plagued by misogyny and racism.
Dame Cressida 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 Dame Cressida’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 has the government.
Dame Cressida was also personally criticised for the obstruction of an official inquiry into police corruption. The panel investigating the 1987 unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan lambasted the commissioner and labelled the Met as “institutionally corrupt”, which she 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 Dame Cressida’s term in office. – Guardian