Cressida Dick resigns: why Met Police commissioner quit, what London mayor Sadiq Khan said - and reaction

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner is stepping down as head of the organisation following a meeting with Sadiq Khan

Dame Cressida Dick has resigned as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed the news on Thursday (10 February), who is said to “no longer have sufficient confidence” in her ability to lead the force.

Dame Cressida, who has served in the Met Police since 1983, resigned shortly after she insisted that she would not be leaving the job.

However, it is believed that Mr Khan had asked Dame Cressida to attend a meeting at 4.30pm on Thursday after not being satisfied with her plan to reform the force in the light of recent high-profile controversies.

She did not attend the meeting and instead tendered her resignation.

Why did Cressida Dick resign as Commissioner?

Dame Cressida Dick has resigned as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. (Credit: Getty)

Dame Cressida, who became the Met Police’s first ever female Commissioner in 2017, has been under pressure recently with question marks over culture within the force in light of the killing of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer and the Met’s reaction to a vigil held in memory of the young woman, and offensive messages sent by officers at Charing Cross station.

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.

“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.

“Undertaking this role as a servant of the people of London and the UK has been the greatest honour and privilege of my life.”

Dame Cressida also admitted that recent controversies had damaged trust in the Met Police, but said that officers were working to rebuild trust within the community.

She said: “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.”

The U-turn decision was made after she told the BBC hours earlier that she had “no intentions of going” adding: “I believe that I am and have been, actually for the last five years, leading a real transformation in the Met.”

What did Sadiq Khan say?

Last week, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found that deeply racist, misogynistic and homophobic messages exchanged between serving officers at Charing Cross station had been dismissed as “banter”.

The most recent scandal was one too many for the Mayor of London, who said he was “shocked” by the findings of the police watchdog.

Mr 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.”

He thanked her for her 40 years service to the force and commended her for her work in bringing violent crime down in London.

He added: “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.”

What has been the reaction?

Home Secretary Priti Patel has tweeted her thoughts on the situation.

She 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.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also tweeted his thanks for Dame Cressida, saying: “Dame Cressida has served her country with great dedication and distinction over many decades. I thank her for her role protecting the public and making our streets safer.”

Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation Ken Marsh said that the commissioner “should have been treated better” amid criticism and pressure over recent scandals involving the force.

He said: “This is of course a challenging time for the Metropolitan Police Service. 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.

“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.”

However, there has also been widespread criticism of Dame Cressida in the wake of her resignation.

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 Dame Cressida has “disappointed” his family on every level.

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.”

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 Dame Cressida 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.”

Who will be the next Met Police Commissioner?

Dame Cressida will remain in the role for a short period of time to allow for Mr Khan and Ms Patel to find a successor.

However, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey insisted that Mr Johnson must not be involved in the search for a new Commissioner while he remains under police investigation for his part in the ‘partygate’ scandal.

He 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.

“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.”

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