Cressida Dick: London police chief quits after slew of scandals

Resignation comes after she lost the confidence of London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Cressida Dick, in uniform, walks away from two police officers with their backs to the camera
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick resigned on Thursday after losing the confidence of the city's mayor [File: Justin Tallis/AFP]

London police chief Cressida Dick has resigned after a slew of scandals undermined confidence in her ability to deal with the problems afflicting the force.

Trust in the Metropolitan Police was shaken by the abduction, rape, and murder of a woman, Sarah Everard, by one of its officers last year, and has been further undermined by more recent revelations of a culture of bullying, racial discrimination, and misogyny.

Dick announced her resignation on Thursday after the mayor of London Sadiq Khan told her he was not convinced she could carry out the reforms necessary to rebuild Londoners’ trust in the Met.

“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,” Khan said.

Dick said she was left with no choice but to stand down.

“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,” she said.

Dick, an experienced counter-terrorism officer, was the first woman to lead London’s 193-year-old police force and had had her contract extended until 2024.

The sudden announcement comes amid an investigation into the “Partygate” scandal swirling around Prime Minister Boris Johnson over alleged parties held in breach of coronavirus restrictions. The Met is expected to send letters to at least 50 people in the prime minister’s office on Friday, including Johnson, over the events, according to the Times newspaper.

Damaged confidence

Dick said Everard’s murder and “many other awful cases recently” had damaged confidence, but the force had turned its full attention to rebuilding trust.

Khan singled out Dick’s reaction to the report on the behaviour of 14 serving police officers at Charing Cross Police in central London for making her position untenable.

“The response from the Commissioner wasn’t up to the scale of the change required in the Met Police Service,” he told broadcasters.

Johnson, the prime minister, said on Twitter that Dick had “served her country with great dedication and distinction over many decades”.

Home minister Priti Patel, who will be responsible for choosing Dick’s replacement, said earlier this month there were problems with the culture of the police force.

On Thursday, however, she said Dick had undertaken her duties “with a steadfast dedication to protecting our capital city and its people – including during the unprecedented period of the pandemic”.

The 61-year-old had been under mounting pressure since the March 2021 rape and murder of Everard, who was grabbed off the street by Wayne Couzens, a serving officer.

Revelations that officers shared photographs of two women killed in a north London park on WhatsApp, an official inquiry ruling that the organisation was “institutionally corrupt“, and an expansion of controversial “stop and search” policing also damaged trust.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies