The Met’s worst Police Commissioner?

By Murad Qureshi

Well before #partygate, Cressida Dick was being considered the worst Police Commissioner of the metropolis in living memory – and for very good reasons as well.

This is not surprisingly really, as during her tenure, we have had the Met accused of institutionalised corruption by the Independent Report of Daniel Morgan’s murder investigation from the 1980s; misogyny in the handling of the Sarah Everard case; and conducting a homophobic police investigation into the four Barking lads killed before Christmas.

The Report of the 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan accused Dame Cressida Dick of obstructing the work of the inquiry into the Morgan case by denying access to documents which the panel thought vital. It blamed the force for it taking eight years to reach its conclusions. The Commissioner was forced to publicly deny the Report’s central conclusion that the Met was institutionally corrupt.

The Sarah Everard case is as clear a case of misogyny by a policeman as you are ever going to find, but let us not also forget the overreaction by the Met as officers were accused of “grabbing and mishandling” women as hundreds defied warnings to attend the vigil event in Clapham, South London. This sparked a ferocious backlash among women against the “disgraceful” advice issued after Sarah Everard murder.

As for the four boys – Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor and Anthony Walgate – murdered in Barking by Stephen Port after being drugged with GHB and then raped by him, they was a clear pattern which the murder investigation never picked up on till it was far too late. This failing has led to accusations that it was a homophobic police investigation.

All this institutionalised corruption, misogyny and homophobia were revealed in the course of last year alone.

What more can you add to the list? Let’s not forget Cressida Dick’s involvement in the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, whose family issued a statement saying she could not “command public confidence” as Commissioner of the Metropolitan police. Dick was the gold commander in the control room during the operation which led to the death of de Menezes, wrongly identified as a potential suicide bomber. The 27-year-old Brazilian national was repeatedly shot in the head at Stockwell tube station in South London.

At a 2008 inquest into his killing, Dick said: “If you ask me whether I think anybody did anything wrong or unreasonable on the operation, I don’t think they did.” The inquest jury returned an open verdict, seen as demonstrating its members were unconvinced by the police account of events.

Meanwhile, levels of knife crime in London last year have never been higher. So, truth be told, she should never have been rehired last year for another two years, particularly after what has happened in the past year under her watch.

You can also add what the Independent Office of Police Conduct said about Charing Cross Police station. It is one of the few police stations left in the City of Westminster, after Johnson closed many of them while Mayor of London, where residents can still go to a front desk. So hearing from the Office that the canteen culture from the 1970s and 1980s has not changed at all explains a lot about the policing of our City and in particularly Central London.  

Local press reaction to Charing Cross Police station canteen culture in Westminster

And just recently Yasmin Chkaifi was a victim of domestic violence on the streets of Maida Vale after the Met had failed to arrest her assailant – even when a stalking protection order had been breached and she notified the police that she feared for her life at the very beginning of the New Year. The only decent thing to come out of this episode for the Met is that they eventually released the young man who attempted to run down her assailant with his car when she was being attacked. But the lack of response to the initial cries for assistance will just add to women’s concerns about the Met’s handling of such cases. 

Some have said it all takes us back to the days before the Macpherson Report into the killing of Stephen Lawrence on the streets of South East London. No wonder Harriet Harman MP, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Diane Abbott MP – and now Stella Creasy MP – have all called on Cressida Dick to resign. Frankly, she should never have been given a two year extension on her contract last year. All that has happened since then has simply increased the number of her critics who feel she should go.  

 Murad Qureshi was an Assembly Member at City Hall between 2004 and 2016 and 2020 and 2021.

Image: Cressida Dick. Author: Katie Chan, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Subscribe to the blog for email notifications of new posts