Sadiq Khan takes final swipe at outgoing Met chief Dame Cressida
Sadiq Khan has said he is not “going to hide from the fact” that he lost confidence in the outgoing Metropolitan Police commissioner.
The London mayor spoke about why he withdrew his support for Dame Cressida Dick, on the day she was cheered and applauded by a crowd of police officers and staff bidding her farewell.
Later she warned against the “politicisation of policing”, saying this is “a threat not just to policing but to trust in the whole criminal justice system.”
Dame Cressida quit after Mr Khan criticised her handling of racist, misogynist and homophobic messages shared by a group of officers based at Charing Cross police station and after a series of other scandals faced by the Met.
It’s one of the things I’ll be looking for in a new commissioner, how they will address some of these serious issues that, frankly speaking, the current commissioner failed to address
Her resignation, which came hours after she said in a media interview she had no intention of quitting, was greeted with dismay by many officers.
Speaking at the launch of Labour’s local election campaign in Barnet, north London, Mr Khan said: “In the recent past, she’s worked with many others to help us reduce violent crime but I’m not going to hide from the fact that I lost confidence in her.
“I’m not going to hide from the fact that we’ve had in our city a series of devastating scandals, overt racism, sexism, discrimination, homophobia, we’ve had trust and confidence from Londoners in the police service at rock bottom.
“It’s one of the reasons why I lost confidence in her and it’s one of the things I’ll be looking for in a new commissioner, how they will address some of these serious issues that, frankly speaking, the current commissioner failed to address.”
A smiling Dame Cressida was met with applause and cheers of “hip, hip, hooray” as she walked through a guard of honour outside Scotland Yard ahead of her last day in the job this weekend.
Operational independence from local and central government is crucial for an effective democracy and is a model respected around the world. We must all treasure and protect it
Walking down the steps of the force headquarters and in between two lines of uniformed officers on Friday, she was greeted with salutes which she returned before saying “thank you very much”.
Video footage published online by LBC Radio showed Dame Cressida turning to wave to a large crowd, who had lined the pavement around the building and could be heard applauding, cheering and shouting “thank you” as she passed by.
She hugged a young boy and appeared to ask: “Do you know when you are going to join us?”
In a “letter to London”, she wrote: “Of course as I look back there is more I wish we had achieved.
“We hear the criticism, know not everyone has confidence in us to provide a good service when they need us, and have seen among us those whose horrific actions have let you all, and us, down so terribly.
“Each one drives us to get better, to root out those who don’t uphold our standards and don’t deserve to wear our uniform… We are listening and acting on what you tell us so we can change for the better.
“The current politicisation of policing is a threat not just to policing but to trust in the whole criminal justice system. Operational independence from local and central government is crucial for an effective democracy and is a model respected around the world. We must all treasure and protect it.”
She added: “I will always look back on my time as commissioner with pride for what has been achieved, with humility for when Londoners have been let down, and with huge confidence the changes we have been making will ensure you can be proud of the Met going forward. I leave with the fondest of memories of the fantastic people I’ve been lucky enough to work with.”
Dame Cressida’s last day in post will be on Sunday, after which she will take unused annual leave, with her final day of employment being April 24.
Deputy commissioner Sir Stephen House will temporarily serve as acting commissioner while the recruitment process continues.
Asked whether he has confidence in Sir Stephen, Mr Khan thanked him for “stepping up” to the role, which is required by law, adding: “He’ll be the interim commissioner until we appoint a new one.”
Mr Khan said it could take around five months to appoint a successor, adding that the best candidate would be “somebody who understands the challenges we face and also recognises the uniqueness of London, what a wonderful city we are, and how important it is to police by consent, to work with Londoners to restore confidence with women and girls in our city, but also minority communities, particularly black communities as well.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel previously confirmed that the circumstances of Dame Cressida’s resignation will be reviewed by the outgoing chief inspector of constabulary, Sir Tom Winsor.
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