The new Met chief must be prepared to tackle the “policing culture” which has left the country’s biggest force reeling from a series of scandals, Home Secretary Priti Patel has warned.
Ms Patel, who is beginning the search for a successor to Dame Cressida Dick, said it would require “strong and decisive leadership” to rebuild public confidence in the force’s “integrity and professionalism”.
Dame Cressida dramatically announced she was standing down as Metropolitan Police Commissioner on Thursday evening after London Mayor Sadiq Khan made clear he had no confidence in her plans to reform the service.
In a statement, Ms Patel, who must now oversee the appointment of a successor, said she would be looking for someone who could deliver results for the public.
“Following a series of appalling incidents and too many historical cases involving serving Met Police officers, it is clear that strong and decisive new leadership will be required to restore public confidence in our largest police force,” she said.
“The public in London and across the entire country must once again have confidence in the integrity and professionalism of the police officers who serve them.
“Policing culture and conduct have rightly come under scrutiny. Be in no doubt that a new leader must tackle these institutional issues.”
She added: “I will appoint a Commissioner who will deliver for the public whom our police serve and represent. Beating crime, preventing crime, protecting our citizens, our streets and communities at a time when this Government is investing record sums into the police, is paramount.
“And above all that’s what I – and the public across the country – will want from the country’s most senior police officer: someone focused on the basics of reducing violence in the city, tackling the abuse of women and girls, ridding our streets of drugs, knives and weapons, saving lives and protecting the public from the those who wish to do them harm.”
Dame Cressida’s departure follows a barrage of criticism of the force including over its handling of the case of Sarah Everard who was murdered by a serving Met officer.
The force has also been criticised for being slow to investigate reports of parties in Downing Street and Whitehall in breach of Covid restrictions.
The final straw, however, was a report by the police watchdog which exposed violently racist, misogynist and homophobic messages exchanged by officers based at Charing Cross police station.
There were nevertheless signs of tension between Ms Patel and Mr Khan over the manner of Dame Cressida’s departure, just months after the Home Secretary agreed a two-year extension to her contract.
Home Office sources said Ms Patel was angered by Mr Khan’s failure to inform her that he had called Dame Cressida to a meeting on Thursday afternoon which she considered “rude and unprofessional”.
Dame Cressida, however, chose not attend after reportedly being informed that Mr Khan had no confidence in her plans for reform.
Sources close to the mayor said that it had been a regular bilateral meeting and that it was up to Dame Cressida to inform Ms Patel of her decision herself.
It is now time to clean the Augean stables so that a full inquiry can be conducted on all her personal mistakesHarvey Proctor
Rank and file officers expressed dismay at Dame Cressida’s departure, with the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, Ken Marsh, saying she had been treated unfairly.
Mr Marsh told the PA news agency: “She was much loved across the rank and file of the Metropolitan Police Service.
“We feel the way she has been treated is wholly unfair and we did believe that she was the person who could take us through this and bring us out the other side.”
But former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor, whose house was raided by officers from the Met’s failed Operation Midland, launched in reaction to false allegations by jailed fantasist Carl Beech about a murderous VIP paedophile ring, said he was delighted by the news.
“It is now time to clean the Augean stables so that a full inquiry can be conducted on all her personal mistakes,” he said.
Harriet Wistrich, director of the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) charity, said: “There were far too many stories of officers accused of violence and abuse still in their jobs, and of whistleblowers victimised instead of listened to.
“Cressida Dick’s response to these series of stories has been wholly inadequate, and her description of Wayne Couzens as a ‘wrong un’ meaningless, next to the mounting evidence of multiple allegations of abuse and policing failures to tackle violence against women and racism.”
Dame Cressida announced she was stepping down from the job on Thursday just hours after insisting she had no intention of going during an interview with the BBC.
In her statement, she said it was clear that the mayor no longer had sufficient confidence in her leadership and that she had been left with no choice but to step aside.
Mr Khan earlier this week indicated that Dame Cressida’s future hung in the balance over her response to problems with the culture within the Met, and how to restore the public’s confidence in the force by rooting out “racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, discrimination and misogyny”.