Commissioner refuses to resign following sentencing of Sarah Everard’s murderer
Dame Cressida Dick, the most senior police officer in England and Wales, said she wanted the force to regain the public’s trust and announced a review of “standards and culture”.
There have been calls for her resignation over the Everard case, as well as following an inquiry that branded Scotland Yard “institutionally corrupt” in June and the conviction of another officer as a member of a neo-Nazi terrorist group.
The Metropolitan Police was also heavily criticised during the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd, over the racial disparity in stop and search and the use of force.
Speaking to broadcasters on Monday, Dame Cressida said: “People will be entitled to their opinion, I’ve got a job to do, I’m getting on with it.
“My job now is to lead the Met through a difficult time and rebuild that public trust, which I am doing through bringing in an independent person to review our standards and culture.”
She said the review would cover how officers in Britain’s largest force treat each other and the public, adding: “Our leadership, our processes, our systems, our people, our training, everything will be looked at.
“This will be a fully transparent report, it will respond to me, but will, of course, make recommendations for changes, I’m sure, and those will be public.”
Questions have been mounting over vetting and monitoring processes after it emerged that Couzens was allowed to keep his job, and guard sensitive sites, despite previous indecent exposure incidents.
Several of his former colleagues are under investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over material shared in a WhatsApp group including the murderer.
The IOPC separately found that a probationary constable who staffed a cordon during the Everard case shared an “inappropriate graphic” referencing the kidnap and murder with colleagues, and that other officers failed to challenge it.
Speaking of the murder, for which Couzens was given a whole life order last week, Dame Cressida said: “These events have been absolutely dreadful. I speak for my colleagues when I say we are furious.
“We depend on the trust of the public, we police by consent and I know that public trust has been damaged. People are rightly gravely concerned about what they’ve seen.”
Dame Cressida admitted that the Met “undoubtedly still” has incidents of sexism but it has “changed dramatically” since she joined 40 years ago.
She added: “I am very proud of the women we have and the way the Met conducts itself most of the time but people have let us down. Questions are being asked about the way in which we deal with violence against women and girls, for example, and very legitimate questions about our standards.
“I’m determined that all elements of sexism are rooted out and that we display the highest possible professional standards and behaviours to each other and to the public.”
Her comments came as another Metropolitan Police officer, David Carrick, appeared in court accused of raping a woman in St Albans.
When the charge was announced on Sunday, Dame Cressida said she was “deeply concerned” and added: “I fully recognise the public will be very concerned too.”
Asked whether Boris Johnson felt the Metropolitan Police’s response to the Everard case – and the wider issue of violence against women and girls – had been good enough, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “He believes that the public wants to see the police step up and show they’re doing more on this important issue, to regain the trust and confidence of the public, which the Met themselves have acknowledged will have been shaken by this most recent incident.”
Dame Cressida’s tenure as commissioner was due to end in April, but her five-year contract was extended until 2024.
Announcing the new term in September, the home secretary said: “Her extension will provide continuity and stability as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and recruit 20,000 additional police officers.
“Londoners know there is more to do to keep our capital safe, including by driving down violent crime, and I look forward to continuing to work with the commissioner and mayor of London to protect the public.”
Additional reporting by PA