Dame Cressida Dick, head of London’s Metropolitan Police, has resigned from her job after losing the backing of London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Dick released a shocking statement on Thursday evening, announcing she was stepping down from the job, despite having insisted hours earlier that she had no intention of going.
She said in the statement: “It is with huge sadness that following contact with the mayor of London today, it is clear that the mayor no longer has sufficient confidence in my leadership to continue.
“He has left me no choice but to step aside as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.”
Dick has faced a series of scandals during her time leading Britain’s biggest police force, most recently concerning discriminatory messages exchanged by officers based at Charing Cross police station that were published by a watchdog.
There was also fury over the rape and murder of Sarah Everard in 2021 by serving officer Wayne Couzens, who abducted her by staging a fake COVID-19 arrest.
Sadiq Khan earlier this week indicated that the police chief’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.
On Thursday he said: “Last week, I made clear to the Metropolitan Police commissioner the scale of the change I believe is urgently required to rebuild the trust and confidence of Londoners in the Met and to root out the racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, discrimination, and misogyny that still exists. I am not satisfied with the commissioner’s response.”
“It’s clear that the only way to start to deliver the scale of the change required is to have new leadership right at the top of the Metropolitan Police,” he said, adding that he will “work closely” with Home Secretary Priti Patel on the appointment of a new commissioner.
Patel, who reportedly had past clashes with Dick, praised the officer’s “steadfast dedication.”
She said: “She would be the first to say that she has held the role during challenging times; yet for nearly five years she has undertaken her duties with a steadfast dedication to protecting our capital city and its people, including during the unprecedented period of the pandemic.”
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said Dick has been “much loved” by rank and file police officers.
“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,” he told PA Media.
Susan Hall, the Conservative chairwoman of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee, said Dick’s departure had been handled “extremely badly” by the mayor.
“Confidence in the police at the moment is at an all-time low and this won’t help,” she told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.
“Ninety-nine percent of officers are very good, brave officers. They need confidence, they need support, and to have done this in this way, I think Sadiq Khan is completely wrong. It will leave a void at the top as opposed to a properly managed handover, which is no way to run a service like this.”
The Met said its investigation into alleged parties held at Downing Street during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus lockdown will not be affected by the commissioner’s resignation.
The force said the probe continues as normal under the leadership of Commander Catherine Roper.
PA Media contributed to this report.