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Seven scandals on Cressida Dick’s watch

Seven scandals on Cressida Dick's watch
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Cressida Dick has tonight resigned as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Last July, Steerpike looked at her greatest hits...

This week it emerged that Cressida Dick wants to continue running the Metropolitan Police, in spite of a string of recent scandals. Dick, who became the Met's first female commissioner in 2017 will see her contract expire next April, has reportedly indicated to a 'small number of political and policing figures' that she hopes to remain in office. 

Informal discussions are expected to begin next month, with Home Secretary Priti Patel making the appointment after considering recommendations from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. In light of this, and the pictures circulating of Dick belatedly picking up her damehood at St James's Palace on Wednesday, Steerpike thought it best to run a critical eye over Dick's record at the Met ahead of any decision to retain the under-fire police chief.

Jean Charles de Menezes

The first scandal to thrust Dick into the spotlight was in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings when a failed copycat attempt on 21 July 2005 caused officers to shoot dead an innocent man the following day at Stockwell tube station. Dick was Gold Commander in charge of that operation, with the control room being criticised for its 'chaotic' nature. A subsequent inquiry found the Met guilty of a string of errors around de Menezes's death although Dick herself was exonerated.

Operation Midland fantasist

As then assistant police commissioner, Dick was involved in the original operation into the claims of Carl Beech that he was the childhood victim of a high-profile paedophile ring. Officers searched the homes of former Tory MP Harvey Proctor and Lady Brittan, widow of former Home Secretary Leon, with the operation collapsing in March 2016 and six figure payments made to those affected. An inquiry by former high court judge Sir Richard Henriques found more than 40 failings in the police operation with a subsequent report revealing that the Met had delayed implementing most of these reforms. Earlier this year Lady Brittan castigated the Met's 'culture of cover up and flick away' under Dick, who defended the senior officer in charge of Midland.

Extinction Rebellion farce

Less of a tragedy and more of a farce, this episode back in 2019 saw eco-activists shut down swathes of the capital and cost the Met some £37 million. The police seemed powerless to intervene after roads around Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus, Parliament Square and Marble Arch were blocked for days. Dick was later forced to admit that the Met should have responded quicker. A year later the same group managed to hijack the Remembrance Day commemorations at the Cenotaph.

Sarah Everard murder and vigil

In March Met PC Wayne Couzens abducted and murdered Sarah Everard. It later subsequently emerged that 12 police officers had allegedly failed to investigate previous incidents of indecent exposure by Couzens, who was nicknamed 'the rapist' by colleagues, promoting questions as to how he was accepted into the Met and whether adequate vetting was carried out. There are also questions as to how a vigil for Sarah Everard was policed on Clapham Common, with the 'heavy-handed' way in which women were arrested there prompting Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey to demand that Dick quit,

The Daniel Morgan inquiry

Just last month Dick found herself embroiled in another controversy after the long-awaited independent inquiry into the death of Daniel Morgan finally concluded. Private detective Morgan was found dead in 1987 with an axe embedded in his head, with no one ever convicted of the killing. The inquiry described the Met as 'institutionally corrupt' with Dame Cressida personally censured for obstruction and named as one of those responsible for delaying the panel access to the police database. Two police watchdogs are now considering investigations into Dick's conduct during the case with Sadiq Khan forced to declare he had confidence in the embattled Commissioner. 

Wembley shambles

The heavy-handedness on display at Sarah Everard's vigil contrasted sharply with the policing on Sunday at Wembley stadium. Thousands of fans are thought to have smashed their way into the ground after toppling security fences and storming turnstiles and disabled entrances, with ministers and football officers now asking why the force did not create a 'ring of steel' to stop the troublemakers from breaking in. The scenes are now feared to have critically damaged England's hopes of hosting the 2030 World Cup, while victims have included the father of England's Harry Maguire, Alan, who was injured by stampeding thugs as they burst through a gate. The response of Dick's deputy assistant commissioner Jane Connors, who claimed: 'I do not accept that the policing operation failed' has been predictably lampooned in light of the revelation that the final was almost called off.

Spiralling teenage murders

Alongside questions about various policing operations and issues of selective enforcement, the Met under Dick has also faced criticism for its record on violent crime. The capital is on track for its worst year ever for teenage killings, with 22 dying this year, 19 of whom had been stabbed including the youngest victim, 14 year-old Fares Maatou. This is despite Dame Cressida telling LBC in May that tackling violent crime was her 'number one priority.'

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk or message @MrSteerpike

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