Dame Cressida Dick said she was left with “no choice” but to step down as Metropolitan Police Commissioner last night after she lost the support of the Mayor of London.
It is understood the beleaguered Met chief was called to a meeting with Sadiq Khan at 4.30pm on Thursday over his plan to reform the force following a string of scandals and accusations of a toxic work culture.
But she declined to attend and offered her resignation instead, catching the Home Office by surprise. Ella’s announcement of her departure came just hours after she had insisted she had “no intention” to quit the role.
Her departure follows a series of serious controversies at the Met that have occurred under her leadership.
June 2020: Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman murders
The Met was accused of a series of failures over the investigation into the murders of two sisters, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, in 2020.
Dame Cressida said she would apologize to the family of the siblings after the police watchdog concluded the force’s level of service was “unacceptable”. She accepted the force “fell short” in investigating the disappearance of the two sisters.
The women were reported missing on 6 June when they failed to return home, but police launched no search efforts. It was a search led by the family on 7 June that discovered their bodies close to their last-known location, and their mother Mina Smallman maintains officers failed to take the disappearance seriously because of their race.
In December 2021, two officers were sentenced to two years and nine months in prison for taking and sharing “utterly distasteful” photographs of the two sisters’ bodies and using mysogynistic language in WhatsApp messages, describing them as “dead birds”.
June 2020: Bianca Williams stopped
Athlete Bianca Williams accused the Metropolitan Police Service of racial profiling when she and her partner were stopped in their car and handcuffed by Met officers in July 2020.
Ms Williams said she thought they had been targeted because “we are black and we drive a Mercedes”, while a video of the incident drew widespread condemnation. Reviews by the force’s Directorate of Professional Standards found no misconduct by its officers, but it apologized for the distress caused.
March 2021: Sarah Everard
At the time he kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard as she walked home in south London, Wayne Couzens was a serving member of the Metropolitan Police. He had recently finished a shift as a diplomatic and parliamentary protection officer.
It transpired that he had been linked to two allegations of indecent exposure prior to Ms Everard’s death, and was nicknamed “The Rapist” at work. Three serving Met officers allegedly shared grossly offensive material with Couzens on a WhatsApp group in the months before he murdered Ms Everard.
The incident led to questions about the culture Dame Cressida presided over within the Met and how someone like Couzens could be hired as an officer.
Speaking after Couzens was sentenced in September, Dame Cressida admitted his crime had damaged trust in police and said: “I am so sorry.”
After Ms Everard’s murder, women’s group Reclaim These Streets organized a vigil in her honor during lockdown. They claimed the police refused to help organize it safely, and the Met eventually announced the organizers would each be liable for £10,000 fines if the vigil went ahead, leading them to cancel the event. Some mourners gathered anyway and police were pictured handcuffing and dragging women away.
While the police were cleared of wrongdoing, with a report finding they acted “appropriately”, the incident was widely condemned.
June 2021: Daniel Morgan inquiry findings
An independent panel investigating the 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan accused the Met of institutional corruption in its findings, released in June 2021. They found that Dame Cressida repeatedly denied the panel access to an internal police database without satisfactory explanation over a period of seven years.
Following the release of the findings, Mr Morgan’s brother Alastair called on Dame Cressida to consider her position.
July 2021: disappearance of Richard Okorogheye
In July, 2021, two Met staffers were handed misconduct notices by the police watchdog over their handling of the investigation into teenager Richard Okorogheye’s disappearance. Mr Okorogheye’s mother, Evidence Joel, suggested her son’s disappearance was not taken seriously because of his race.
July 2021: Euro 2020 crowd control
The Met was criticized for its management of crowds at the Euro 2020 football tournament last year, after thousands of ticketless fans were able to storm into Wembley stadium in July 2021, rushing turnstiles and crossing security barriers.
Some fans were injured in the incident, including England player Harry Maguire’s father, and a review found there were a series of “near misses” among crowds which could have led to significant injuries or even death.
The Met said it was “deeply sorry” that so many people faced “unacceptable scenes of disorder”.
January 2022: Racism and misogyny at Charing Cross
A report published last month by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) uncovered messages from officers that included “disgraceful” misogyny, racism, homophobia and harassment.
Findings showed police had joked about raping women and killing black children, while one had threatened to murder a female colleague.
Of the 14 officers investigated, two were dismissed for gross misconduct, two resigned and others faced disciplinary action. Nine are still serving.
The report concludes: “We believe these incidents are not isolated or simply the behavior of a few ‘bad apples’.”
November 2021 onwards: Downing Street parties
The Met was criticized after revelations that numerous parties had been held in Downing Street during lockdown. Critics including Alistair Campbell, the former No 10 communications director, questioned whether it was possible that police officers who guard the premises would have been unaware gatherings were taking place inside.
The force was further criticized for not opening an investigation into those parties until the Sue Gray report was about to be completed.
The Met is now investigating 12 separate events that took place in Downing Street and Whitehall during Covid-19 restrictions, including several attended by Mr Johnson himself and one that took place in his flat.