The head of London’s Metropolitan Police on Thursday announced she would step down after the capital’s mayor declared himself dissatisfied with her response to a series of scandals.
Dame Cressida Dick’s resignation followed a damning report last week by a police watchdog into a culture of sexism, racism and homophobia at the city centre Charing Cross police station.
The departure of Britain’s most senior police officer also comes after criticism of the Met’s initial reluctance to investigate Downing Street and other government parties held during coronavirus restrictions.
And last year the Met was plunged into crisis when Wayne Couzens, a serving officer, abducted, raped and murdered 33-year-old Sarah Everard while she was walking home in south London.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said he had made clear last week to Dick the scale of the change he believed was “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 existed in the force.
“I am not satisfied with the commissioner’s response,” Khan added. “On being informed of this, Dame Cressida Dick has said she will be standing aside.”
Khan on Wednesday said Dick had “days and weeks” to devise a satisfactory turnround plan for the Met.
Dick, who has been head of the capital’s police force since 2017, said she was announcing with “huge sadness” that following contact with Khan it was clear he no longer had sufficient confidence in her leadership to continue.
“He has left me no choice but to step aside as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service,” she added.
Her resignation came hours after Dick had defended her record as commissioner in a BBC interview.
“I have absolutely no intention of going and I believe that I am — and actually have been for the last five years — leading a real transformation in the Met,” she told host Eddie Nestor.
She was confirmed in September for a new two-year term, which had been due to start in April, by home secretary Priti Patel and Khan.
Dick suggested in her interview that Khan three weeks ago had told her he had never had more confidence in the Met’s ability to deliver. Officials close to the mayor insisted Khan had merely expressed confidence in the co-operation of public-sector bodies to reduce violence.
In her resignation statement, Dick said she had agreed to stay on for a short period to ensure the force’s stability.
Khan said he would work with Patel, who appoints the Met commissioner jointly with the mayor, to finalise Dick’s successor.
Patel thanked Dick for her work as commissioner. “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.”
Neil Basu, previously head of anti-terrorism operations at the Met, is seen as one possible contender to replace Dick.
The choice of successor could prove sensitive for the government given the Met’s current investigation of alleged lockdown breaches in parties at Downing Street and elsewhere in Whitehall.
Sir Ed Davey, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, on Thursday evening wrote that Johnson should have “no role” in choosing Dick’s successor.
“A man under criminal investigation by the Met should not be able to choose who’s in charge of it,” he wrote on Twitter.