Met Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to stand down, Scotland Yard confirms
Met Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick is to leave her role as head of London’s police force, London mayor Sadiq Khan has confirmed.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Last week, I made clear to the 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.”
Speaking to Eddie Nestor earlier today (Thursday, February 10) Dame Cressida said: “I have absolutely done my very best and I will continue to do so until the day I leave the Met.
"Most people would absolutely agree I have been leading the Met very well. I can evidence in very many ways... I have a bunch of 40-something thousand people in the Met who think I’ve been doing a very good job.”
The phone-in followed a recent string of shocking scandals involving the force, including:
- Sarah Everard’s rape and murder by serving police officer Wayne Couzens.
- Two officers being jailed for taking and sending photos of the bodies of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, who they referred to as “dead birds”.
- A finding of “institutional corruption” and a personal censure for Dame Cressida for obstructing inquiries in the Daniel Morgan report published in June 2021.
- Extensive investigative failings which “probably contributed” to further deaths revealed at the inquests into Stephen Port’s victims.
- An apology and payout to Dr Konstancja Duff after officers made misogynistic “derogatory” remarks during a strip search after she refused to give her name.
- A shock watchdog report into Charing Cross which found officers joked about beating women and killing black children.
- And a payout of almost £230,000 to environmental activist Kate Wilson following the spycops scandal which saw women deceived into relationships with officers.
While historic scandals which drew criticism of force included the Macpherson Inquiry which determined the Met was “institutionally racist” following the racially motivated murder of 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence, and the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.
Labour mayor Mr Khan added: “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.”
Dame Cressida will continue in her role for a short period of time.
In a statement, she 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.
“Undertaking this role as a servant of the people of London and the UK has been the greatest honour and privilege of my life.
“Throughout my career I have sought to protect the people of this wonderful thriving and diverse city.
“There have been many tough calls. And many challenges. The 2017 terrorist attacks, the Grenfell fire, difficult protests, the pandemic, the murder of serving officers.
“I’m incredibly proud of my team and all they have achieved.”
She added: “The murder of Sarah Everard and many other awful cases recently have, I know, damaged confidence in this fantastic police service.
“There is much to do – and I know that the Met has turned its full attention to rebuilding public trust and confidence. For that reason I am very optimistic about the future for the Met and for London.
“Thank you to everyone in the Met and those who work with us for the extraordinary efforts you make each and every day.
“The public depend on you, for your professionalism, courage, compassion and integrity. You make a huge difference to people’s lives every day. I salute you.”
Home secretary Priti Patel said: “I’d like to thank Dame Cressida for the nearly four decades of her life that she has devoted to serving the public, latterly as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.
“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.
“Leading the Met has also involved driving our national counter terrorism capability at a time of multiple threats while as the first woman to hold the post, she has exemplified the increasingly diverse nature of our police and demonstrated that all can aspire to hold leadership roles in policing in this country today.”
Activist Patsy Stevenson, whose photo went viral after she was pictured being pinned to the ground by Met Police officers at a Clapham vigil for Sarah Everard, who was murdered by serving police officer Wayne Couzens, welcomed the news.
She said: “It’s great that she’s gone. However, we need to remain vigilant about the Met’s changes in response to sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia.
“Let this not be a token gesture. Glad she’s out.”
Susan Hall, chairman of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee, said: “Today the London Assembly agreed a unanimous motion calling on the mayor to clarify what he meant when he said the commissioner had been put ‘on notice’.
“We no longer need that clarification – but we do need an urgent plan of action to heal recent wounds.
“There is a crisis of confidence in the Met Police and it’s vital the next commissioner gets to grips with addressing these issues.
“The police and crime committee would like to put on record our thanks to Dame Cressida for her 40 years of service.
“We look forward to working with the new commissioner when they are appointed and continuing the important work of holding the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to account.”
City Hall Labour’s police spokesman, Unmesh Desai, said: “I would like to thank Dame Cressida Dick for her service to the capital which has spanned four decades, where she ended her career as the first woman to become Commissioner.
“It is clear that there is a toxic culture in some parts of the Metropolitan Police and this needs to be urgently addressed. Recent events and revelations have reinforced this beyond all doubt.
“The Met have a huge challenge ahead of them when it comes to restoring the trust and confidence of all Londoners. It is vital that the right person is now appointed by the Home Secretary and the Mayor to lead them through this process of deep transformation.
“The Mayor has been right to step in and maximise the pressure on the Met’s current leadership to enact the scale of change needed.
“There are thousands of dedicated police officers in our capital that are incredibly serious about stamping out racism, sexism, homophobia and religious intolerance within their ranks”.
While Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: “Boris Johnson must have no role in choosing Cressida Dick’s successor to lead the Met. A man under criminal investigation by the Met should not be able to choose who’s in charge of it.
“I would like to thank Cressida Dick for her years of dedicated police service, but a change of leadership is long overdue.
“Met police officers who work incredibly hard and risk their lives to keep us safe deserve better. They urgently need new leadership that will change the culture and rebuild the public trust and confidence that officers need to do their jobs and keep us all safe.
“No one handpicked by Boris Johnson would have the credibility needed for this big and important task.
“There must be no interference from Number 10 in the appointment and Boris Johnson should publicly recuse himself from this decision.”
And Ryan Edwards, former neighbour of Stephen Port, who was jailed for life for the murders of four young, gay men in Barking, east London, said: “Saying that they know the Met has homophobic police officers without a robust plan to tackle this problem was a disgrace.
“I sincerely hope the new Met chief acknowledges the part that homophobia and prejudice played towards the Met’s failings in preventing the tragic loss of life with Stephen Port.
“This will allow for the start of working with the LGBT+ community to ensure this never can be allowed to happen again.”