Cressida Dick: Met commissioner given two-year contract extension

Published
Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Dame Cressida Dick is set to lead the Metropolitan Police until 2024

Dame Cressida Dick will serve an extra two years as Metropolitan Police commissioner, it has been confirmed.

She became the first woman to lead the London's force when she was appointed in 2017 and will remain until 2024.

On Wednesday, a number of high-profile signatories wrote an open letter accusing her of "presiding over a culture of incompetence and cover-up".

Dame Cressida, 60, said she was "honoured and humbled" to have her contract extended.

Among those who signed the letter calling for her to go were Baroness Lawrence, whose son Stephen was murdered in a racist attack, and Lady Brittan, whose home was raided when her husband Lord Brittan was falsely accused of child abuse.

'Obscene'

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "Her extension will provide continuity and stability as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and recruit 20,000 additional police officers.

"Londoners know there is more to do to keep our capital safe, including by driving down violent crime, and I look forward to continuing to work with the commissioner and mayor of London to protect the public."

However, former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor - whose home was raided during the flawed investigation into false claims of a VIP paedophile ring - said he was "bitterly disappointed".

Mr Proctor, who was one of the seven people who signed the letter calling for Dame Cressida to be replaced, said: "I believe the government will rue the day of this terribly bad and wrong decision. It is obscene."

Image source, Getty Images
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Protesters demonstrate outside Scotland Yard over the treatment of people by police at the Sarah Everard vigil

Since her appointment in 2017, Dame Cressida has been involved in several controversies.

The Met commissioner resisted pressure on her to resign in March when the force came under scrutiny over the handling of a vigil held in memory of Sarah Everard, the marketing executive murdered by then-Met Police constable Wayne Couzens.

Three months ago she was personally criticised in a report examining police failings in the 1987 murder of the private investigator Daniel Morgan.

Dame Cressida was accused of obstructing access to documents and her force was denounced as "institutionally corrupt" - something she denied.

The Met has faced repeated accusations of racial bias in its use of stop-and-search powers and was hit with criticism over the security of Wembley stadium during the final of the Euro 2020 championships.

'Extraordinary challenges'

Speaking about the decision to extend her five-year contract, Dame Cressida said: "I am immensely honoured and humbled to have been asked to extend my time as commissioner for a further two years.

"In the last four and a half years Met teams have dealt with some extraordinary challenges, including most recently in the pandemic, and delivered some fantastic results - critically, in reducing violent crimes.

"I'd like to thank the mayor, the home secretary and the prime minister for the confidence they have shown in me. I am acutely aware that there are many excellent leaders in policing."

Image source, EPA
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Dame Cressida has the backing of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the prime minister and the home secretary

In a statement released before the contract extension was announced, the Metropolitan Police Federation said Dame Cressida had the "full support of the rank and file".

The federation, which represents more than 30,000 officers in London, said: "It is easy to comment and criticise from the side-lines.

"We know her to be an ethical, courageous and highly competent police leader who genuinely cares about London, its citizens and her officers."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "This will provide the experienced and strong leadership we need as our city emerges from the pandemic.

"The Met commissioner has the most difficult policing job in the country, overseeing the safety of more than 10 million people living, working and visiting our global city."

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