Outcry as Met Police’s Dame Cressida Dick says she hopes to stay on for another four years
Victims of Scotland Yard incompetence reacted with fury last night to reports that Dame Cressida Dick will seek an extension as the country’s top police officer.
The Metropolitan Police commissioner has been caught up in a string of controversies including criticism of the force’s handling of security at the Euro 2020 final at Wembley on Sunday night.
But Dame Cressida is reported to be on the brink of applying for an extension of her initial five-year contract which expires in April.
If accepted, she could remain in charge for up to another four years.
Former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, who lost his home and job over the Met’s disastrous Operation Midland investigation into spurious VIP child sex abuse allegations, said: ‘She is a disgrace and should have resigned long ago.
‘It is time for her to go because of Operation Midland, not to be seeking any extension to her employment at the Met.
‘In my opinion, she has a personal responsibility for setting back the public purse millions of pounds as part of the Operation Midland investigation.’
Disaster-prone Met Police chief Cressida Dick has been made a Dame Commander by Prince Charles
Mr Proctor, who received £900,000 from the Met in compensation and legal costs over the fiasco, said: ‘I hold her culpable for her role in a severe waste of public funds which severely impacted a number of lives, including mine.’
Radio DJ Paul Gambaccini, who was arrested during the Operation Yewtree child sex abuse inquiry in 2013 and spent a year on bail before the case was dropped, described Dame Cressida as an officer who ‘shames the Met’.
He added: ‘As I am concerned she is unworthy of any position from commissioner down to dog catcher.
‘The disastrous mistakes made during Operation Midland and beyond it would have been enough to have ended her predecessor Bernard Hogan-Howe’s career and should have been more than enough to end hers.’
He said: ‘Under her tenure there has been a mafia-style culture of “omerta” – the boys in blue huddle in a circle together and don’t let anyone in or any truth out.
‘We have waited for decades for the truth in the Stephen Lawrence case, for Operation Midland, Yewtree, the killing of Daniel Morgan and many more.
‘This is because the Met obfuscates at every opportunity and [does] not want the public to know of its failures.’
Mr Gambaccini, who received a payout from the Crown Prosecution Service in 2018 over the unfounded allegations levelled at him, said it was vital to draw a line under Dame Cressida’s tenure.
The commissioner, 60, who was formally made a dame commander by Prince Charles yesterday in recognition of her public service, indicated she was ‘happy’ to remain in the top job.
Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, 60, who was formally made a dame commander by Prince Charles yesterday in recognition of her public service, indicated she was ‘happy’ to remain in the top job
Speaking after the ceremony at St James’s Palace, she said: ‘I’m very focused on my job, I love my job, it’s a huge honour – it’s a real privilege to be doing my job. I’m very happy.’
Downing Street refused to be drawn on whether the Prime Minister supported her being given another term.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: ‘She retains his full confidence but I’m not going to get drawn into the future appointments process.’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who oversees the Met’s day-to-day operations, also said the commissioner continued to have his support, adding: ‘She has not told me what her intentions are.’
Conservative peer Lord Lexden, who has campaigned for a detailed independent investigation into Operation Midland, said Dame Cressida should leave at the end of her term to allow Scotland Yard to ‘make a fresh start under a new leader’.
He added: ‘She is well regarded within the Met but that is not enough. The charge sheet against her is just too long and grows longer.
‘The names of really able senior police officers up and down our country – capable of providing the inspiring leadership that is desperately needed – should be sent by MPs and community leaders to the Home Secretary personally, bypassing Home Office officials with their craven attitudes to law and order.’
Dame Cressida’s leadership of the force and its integrity have come under increasing scrutiny in recent months after a series of damaging events.
On Friday Met Police officer Wayne Couzens pleaded guilty to murdering marketing executive Sarah Everard, 33, after previously admitting her kidnap and rape.
The force faces serious questions about why Couzens was not arrested earlier for alleged flashing offences.
The Met was also criticised over policing of a vigil for Miss Everard at Clapham Common, near where she disappeared, but its tactics were later cleared by a watchdog.
A report into the unsolved 1987 murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan, published last month, also accused the Metropolitan Police of ‘institutional corruption’.
The force under successive commissioners including Dame Cressida had concealed or denied failings in the case to protect its own reputation, the report concluded.
Mr Morgan’s brother Alastair said last night: ‘I’m disappointed, frustrated and angry at these reports that Cressida Dick intends to stay in charge of the Metropolitan Police. She should go.’
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey also called for her to go.
‘The Met desperately needs new leadership to change the culture of cover up rather than own up at the top of the organisation,’ he said last night.
‘Met Police officers who work incredibly hard and risk their lives to keep us safe deserve far better.
‘They need new leadership that will change the culture and rebuild the public trust and confidence that officers need to do their jobs and keep us safe.’
The commissioner is expected to make a formal announcement on whether she will apply for an extension within weeks.
If she decides to leave, the process to select a successor would have to begin by the end of summer.
Dame Cressida’s predecessor Lord Hogan-Howe asked for a lengthy contract extension but was given only one year, during which he retired early.
The scandals on her watch: Shooting dead of Tube passenger
Cressida Dick was Gold Commander in charge of the operation which resulted in an innocent man being shot dead on July 22, 2005.
Surveillance officers searching for those responsible for the failed terror attacks the day before shot Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes after he entered Stockwell underground station.
Two years later the Met was found guilty of a series of errors around the tragedy, although Dame Cressida was exonerated.
She continued to support her officers saying they had acted in accordance with information they had at the time. Sources have described the control room where the ill-fated operation was run as ‘utterly chaotic’.
Surveillance officers searching for those responsible for the failed terror attacks the day before shot Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes
‘Culture of cover up’ over fantastist Nick
Operation Midland resulted in the targeting of high-profile individuals after a fantasist falsely claimed he was the childhood victim of a paedophile ring.
Taking the preposterous claims of Carl Beech – aka ‘Nick’ – at face value, Met officers searched the homes of former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, Lord Bramall the former chief of defence staff, and Lady Brittan, widow of the former Tory home secretary Leon Brittan.
Operation Midland collapsed in March 2016. No charges or arrests were made. Beech was later convicted of fraud and perverting the course of justice and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
An inquiry by retired high court judge, Sir Richard Henriques, found more than 40 failings in the police operation.
A subsequent damning report revealed that the Met had delayed implementing most of the reforms and Dame Cressida, who had been briefly involved in the original operation as assistant commissioner, faced pressure to resign.
Sir Richard later called for a criminal investigation into five detectives and said confidence in the criminal justice system had been damaged.
Amid allegations of a Met cover-up, Home Secretary Priti Patel is under mounting pressure to instigate a series of new independent inquiries into Midland.
Dame Cressida is not out of the woods on this one. In a bombshell interview in the Mail in February, Lady Brittan threw the book at the Met over its ‘culture of cover up and flick away’ under the Commissioner, who has repeatedly defended Steve Rodhouse, the serial bungling senior officer in charge of Midland. Further developments on the Midland scandal are expected in the coming weeks.
Easy ride for eco mob
In 2019, much of Britain was amazed as thousands of climate change protesters brought central London to a standstill.
Roads around Parliament Square, Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Marble Arch were blocked for days but the police seemed powerless to intervene.
Dame Cressida later said that Extinction Rebellion came in larger numbers than expected and used new tactics, but admitted police should have responded quicker.
In 2019, much of Britain was amazed as thousands of climate change protesters brought central London to a standstill
Axe death corruption
In 1987, private detective Daniel Morgan was found dead in a car park with an axe embedded in his head.
No one has ever been convicted over his killing.
Last month, the Met was described as ‘institutionally corrupt’ and Dame Cressida herself was personally censured for obstruction following an eight year independent inquiry.
She was named as one of those responsible for delaying the panel’s access to the police database.
Last week Mr Morgan’s brother Alastair called on her to resign.
In 1987, private detective Daniel Morgan, pictured, was found dead in a car park with an axe embedded in his head
Gun cop abducts and murders Sarah Everard
When PC Wayne Couzens pleaded guilty last week to the murder of Sarah Everard, Dame Cressida described his actions as a crime that had ‘sickened, angered and devastated’ the Met.
Couzens, a former diplomatic protection officer, abducted Miss Everard, 33, from a south London street in March.
It later emerged 12 police officers allegedly failed to investigate previous incidents of indecent exposure by Couzens.
A key question, which Dame Cressida needs to answer, is how was an individual like Couzens accepted into the Met. What vetting did, or didn’t, take place?
She also faced criticism over whether the Met acted in a ‘heavy-handed’ manner arresting women at a vigil for Miss Everard on Clapham Common.
A report by Sir Thomas Winsor, the chief inspector of constabulary later concluded that Met officers had acted ‘lawfully, sensitively and proportionately’.
She also faced criticism over whether the Met acted in a ‘heavy-handed’ manner arresting women at a vigil, pictured, for Miss Everard on Clapham Common
Questions over her top brass
Dame Cressida has made a number of highly questionable senior appointments since taking charge of the Met four years ago.
She brought Sir Stephen House out of retirement to be her deputy three years after he stepped down as Chief Constable of Scotland after a series of controversies.
He is seen as her key enforcer and protector, as is Helen Ball, another key ally who is one of her assistant commissioners.
Ms Ball has been by accused by Harvey Proctor of blocking legitimate complaints about Operation Midland.
Incredibly Dame Cressida also promoted a senior officer found guilty of bullying at Essex Police, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matthew Horne, to be head of professional standards.
Selfies taken beside bodies
After the sickening, random murders of sisters Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, in a park in Wembley last June, Dame Cressida admitted there was ‘much more to be done’ to improve trust in the force.
Officers were not sent out to look for the women, pictured, until 36 hours after they were last seen alive.
Even more appallingly, two police have also been charged over taking selfies with the women’s bodies when they were supposed to be guarding the crime scene.
The women’s mother, Mina Smallman, a retired archdeacon, said police had ‘made assumptions’ about her daughters because they were black.
Last week, Danyal Hussein, 19, was convicted at the Old Bailey of the women’s murders.
Sisters Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, were murdered in a park in Wembley last June
Surge in killings of teenagers
London is on track for its worst year ever for teenage killings, with 22 dying this year, 19 of whom had been stabbed.
If the current rate continues, the number of teen fatalities in 2021 will top 30 for the first time.
The youngest victim this year was Fares Maatou, 14, who was allegedly stabbed to death with a Samurai sword during a row over an e-scooter. In May, Dame Cressida told LBC that tackling violent crime was her ‘number one priority’.
The Met was criticised last year for multiple errors in its stop and search policy, with the police watchdog saying there was ‘much room for improvement’.
In one case it found police had stopped and searched two black men for fist bumping, which they mistook for drug dealing.
If the Yard’s Dame of Disaster doesn’t quit, she MUST be decommissioned
By Nazir Afzal for the Daily Mail
What an unlucky police commissioner Cressida Dick has proved to be.
She has suffered a litany of catastrophes during her time as head of the Metropolitan police – and to hear her tell it, not one has been her fault.
No: the fact is that her failure to take responsibility is the root of all her problems.
Because she will not accept blame or set an example as a leader, she has lost the confidence of both the public and her own officers.
Her mantra seems to be: ‘It’s not my responsibility, guv. Nothing to do with me.’
She is weak, indecisive and, on the evidence of her own record, incompetent. The time is long past for her to fall on her sword.
Yet astonishingly, reports yesterday claimed that she intends next month to attempt to extend her five-year fixed contract, which is due to expire in April.
Recent calls for her to resign have been brushed away on the basis that her tenure was due to come to an end next year regardless.
Now we know she reportedly intends to continue running the force — a thought that deeply concerns me.
If she cannot recognise that she must resign then, for the good of the force and the safety of all Londoners, it’s up to Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, and the Home Secretary Priti Patel to tell Dame Cressida that she must go.
But that very honorific must make her feel invulnerable. Only yesterday morning, at an investiture ceremony at St James’s Palace, she was appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire by Prince Charles.
It is inevitable, as night follows day, that Met Commissioners will be honoured by the Establishment, receiving peerages, knighthoods, damehoods and various other baubles.
But the timing of this honour is particularly unfortunate. Coming as it does in the wake of two more deeply embarrassing foul-ups this month alone, her appearance at the palace will leave her officers feeling more exasperated than ever.
Yet astonishingly, reports yesterday claimed that she intends next month to attempt to extend her five-year fixed contract, which is due to expire in April.
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the Home Office, and Priti Patel in particular, want Dame Cressida to stay.
The accident-prone commissioner makes a convenient human shield. As long as she is absorbing all the flak, senior politicians are out of the firing line.
I have been demanding her resignation since the debacle of the women’s vigil for murder victim Sarah Everard in March this year.
The 33-year-old marketing executive was abducted and killed by a serving police officer, PC Wayne Couzens, as she walked home.
Cressida Dick and her team seemed to be caught completely unawares by the number of women who turned up to mourn and demonstrate.
At the time, I was staggered that the Met could be oblivious to the depth of public feeling.
The Duchess of Cambridge was one of those, after all, who quietly came to express her sorrow. What clearer indication could there be that the killing touched a national nerve?
Never was it more important that a protest was policed with sensitivity and respect. A woman was dead at the hands of a policeman.
Yet the Met ordered the cancellation of the vigil and then, when women turned up in defiance, bullied and manhandled them in pictures that shocked the country.
And how starkly those scenes contrasted with the policing of other protests, such as the Black Lives Matter marches last year, when some officers took the knee in sympathy with the crowds and others ran away from protesters.
Now we had the distressing spectacle of women chanting ‘Arrest your own!’ during clashes with police — on a day when the killer had indeed been arrested and charged.
I believe Dame Cressida’s position became untenable that day. Yet she has clung on for months — and last week, as Couzens pleaded guilty to murder, she had the gall to say she felt betrayed by his actions.
It seems to me that it was Cressida who betrayed her officers. Wayne Couzens should never have been allowed to wear the uniform in the first place.
Nearly ten years ago, he had such a bad reputation among colleagues at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary for making female officers feel uncomfortable, he was crudely nicknamed ‘the rapist’.
While serving with the Met, he was reported for driving while semi-naked.
Two accusations of indecent exposure were not properly investigated.
The ultimate responsibility lies with Cressida Dick.
If Couzens had been properly investigated and dismissed, as he would certainly have been by most employers, Sarah Everard might well be alive today.
Yet that is far from her only disgrace. The errors of her tenure come thick and fast.
There has already been another major blunder since Couzens appeared at the Old Bailey on Friday.
Scenes at Wembley stadium on Sunday shamed the nation, as hundreds — probably thousands — of football supporters without tickets for the Euro final stormed the gates. After brawling with stewards and overcoming the pitifully inadequate police presence, they gained access to the stands.
After the match, as the crowd tried to leave, we saw more outbreaks of violence and chaos.
The police were powerless to prevent this, because they were not adequately prepared.
Senior officers can hardly blame a lack of prior warning.
The accident-prone commissioner makes a convenient human shield. As long as she is absorbing all the flak, senior politicians are out of the firing line
Talk of storming the turnstiles had been all over social media at the weekend. It’s one more example of dreadful leadership and inexplicable decisions by the commissioner.
And it’s one for which Britain will pay a high price.
Many believe that the collapse of security at Wembley, together with the vile racism directed at some players, have effectively ended our hopes of hosting the World Cup in 2030.
We now know the final itself came close to being called off. What an international humiliation that would have been. Add to this the epidemic of knife crime, which has seen teenage murders in the capital soar to a 13-year high, the findings of the investigation in to the 1987 axe murder of Daniel Morgan that the Met has been ‘institutionally corrupt’, and numerous other scandals.
Before she was appointed to the top job, I had great respect for Cressida Dick. When I was Chief Crown Prosecutor, and then chief executive of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners until 2017, I knew her slightly and regarded her as an outstanding investigator.
Unfortunately, her talents have not proved equal to managing the biggest budget of any police force in the country, with tens of thousands of officers under her command.
She complains that she is the target of ‘armchair critics’. As usual, she underestimates the scale of the problem — many of her critics are the people who feel directly let down by her blunders, and we are by no means confined to armchairs.
The basis of good policing is consent. The public must trust their police force, and to do that they must have confidence in its leadership.
If that trust disappears, they will stop reporting crimes or coming forward as witnesses, and the fabric of a secure society will be ultimately at stake.
Just as importantly, the police themselves must believe they are well-led. If they lose confidence, the entire system breaks down.
Right now, thousands of officers are struggling to do their jobs, under the most trying conditions since the last world war.
They cannot cope if their boss is floundering, too.
For everybody’s sake, Cressida Dick must go now.
Nazir Afzal OBE is a former Chief Crown Prosecutor for North-West England.