Cressida Dick resigns as Metropolitan Police chief

Commissioner says Sadiq Khan ‘has left me no choice’ – just hours after she insisted she would not quit

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
,Lizzie Dearden
Friday 11 February 2022 09:07
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Cressida Dick says Sadiq Khan 'left her no other choice but to resign'

Dame Cressida Dick has been forced out as the Metropolitan Police commissioner – just hours after she insisted she had “absolutely no intention” of leaving her post.

The surprise announcement comes after Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, put the police chief “on notice” following a series of scandals and the exposure of racist and sexist messages sent by officers in the force.

Announcing her resignation, Dame Cressida said that after a discussion with Mr Khan it was “clear that the mayor no longer has sufficient confidence in my leadership to continue”.

Making clear she was forced out of the role, she added: “He has left me no choice but to step aside as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

“At his request, I have agreed to stay on for a short period to ensure the stability of the Met and its leadership while arrangements are made for a transition to a new commissioner.”

Dame Cressida’s tenure was due to end in April but had been extended by two years, after the government reportedly vetoed proposed replacement Neil Basu.

The former head of UK counter-terrorism had previously said that Boris Johnson would be barred from joining the police because of his remarks describing black people as “piccaninnies” and comparing Muslim women to “letterboxes”.

A replacement has not yet been announced after Dame Cressida’s apparently surprise resignation, and she said she had “agreed to stay on for a short period to ensure the stability of the Met and its leadership while arrangements are made for a transition to a new commissioner”.

Hours before Dame Cressida’s resignation was announced, she was asked by the BBC if she would step down and replied: “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.”

Mr Khan said he made clear last week to the commissioner – who has served in the role since 2017 – the “scale of change” required in the force, in order to rebuild the trust of Londoners.

It follows a series of scandals at the force, including the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, Wayne Couzens, and racist and misogynist and homophobic messages exchanged by officers at Charing Cross police station.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (Victoria Jones/PA)

Last year, a constable was convicted of being a member of a neo-Nazi terrorist group, while a succession of damning inquiries have seen the force accused of “institutional corruption”, homophobia and racism.

In recent months, the force also faced accusations of dithering before the decision was taken to investigate alleged rule-breaking in No 10 and other government buildings during Covid restrictions.

In his statement on Thursday, the mayor of London said he was “not satisfied with the commissioner’s response” to “root out the racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, discrimination and misogyny that still exists”.

He added: “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.”

Priti Patel, the home secretary, who holds the ultimate responsibility over the appointment of the commissioner, thanked Dame Cressida “for the nearly four decades of her life that she has devoted to serving the public”.

“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,” she said.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Ed Davey, however, immediately demanded that Boris Johnson “publicly recuse” himself over the appointment of Dame Cressida’s successor because of the ongoing Met investigation into parties held in No 10 during Covid restrictions.

“I would like to thank Cressida Dick for her years of dedicated police service, but a change of leadership in the Met is long overdue,” he added.

But Ken Marsh, chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said officers were saddened at the news that Dame Cressida was leaving her role.

“This is, of course, a challenging time for the Metropolitan Police Service,” he said. “But policing and police officers are an easy target for critics who have never spent a day in our shoes or dealt with the daily challenges we face.”

He added: “Whilst the federation did not always agree with Commissioner Cressida Dick, we think she was doing a good job in difficult circumstances. She genuinely cares about London, its citizens and, importantly from our perspective, her officers and their families.

“Her removal leaves a void in the leadership of London and UK policing at what is a critical time.

“Cressida Dick should have been given the opportunity and the necessary time to build back trust in the Metropolitan Police Service. She has been denied that. She should have been treated better.”

Critics of the Metropolitan Police disagreed. Among those celebrating Dame Cressida’s resignation were members of the Reclaim These Streets group, who took the force to the High Court after being threatened with fines and prosecutions over a vigil for Sarah Everard.

Co-founder Anna Birley told The Independent: “Culture stems from the top - so the news of the resignation is welcome. She has presided over misogyny, racism, corruption and scandal at the Met and failed time and again to even acknowledge that there is a problem, let alone take the steps to tackle the issue head on.

“Fixing those problems requires more than just one resignation, however welcome. Institutional problems require institutional solutions.”

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