Cressida Dick

Dame Cressida Rose Dick DBE QPM (born 16 October 1960) is a British senior police officer serving as Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis since 2017. Dick is the first woman to lead the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS or Met) in London.

Dame Cressida Dick

Keith Palmer's funeral (006) (cropped).jpg
Cressida Dick in 2017
Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
Assumed office
10 April 2017
DeputySir Craig Mackey
Sir Stephen House
Home SecretaryAmber Rudd
Sajid Javid
Priti Patel
Deputy MayorSophie Linden
Preceded bySir Bernard Hogan-Howe
Assistant Commissioner
for Specialist Operations
In office
July 2011 – January 2015
Preceded byJohn Yates
Succeeded byMark Rowley
Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
Acting
In office
8 November 2011 – 23 January 2012
Preceded byTim Godwin
Succeeded byCraig Mackey
Personal details
Born
Cressida Rose Dick

(1960-10-16) 16 October 1960 (age 60)
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
NationalityBritish
Domestic partnerHelen
Alma mater
ProfessionPolice officer

Dick joined the Met in 1983, rising in the ranks over time. From 1995 to 2000, she was a high-ranking officer in the Thames Valley Police. After earning a master's degree on criminology, she returned to the Met in 2001, and subsequently held senior roles in the force's diversity directorate, in anti-gang and anti-gun crime operations, and in counterterrorism operations. In June 2009, she was promoted to the rank of assistant commissioner, the first woman to hold this rank substantively. She briefly served as acting deputy commissioner in late 2011 and 2012 during a vacancy in the office. She oversaw the Met's security preparations for the security operations for the 2012 London Olympics. Dick retired from the Met in 2015 to accept a role in the Foreign Office, but returned to the Met in 2017 after she was selected by the Home Office to succeed Bernard Hogan-Howe as MPS commissioner, becoming the first woman to hold this post.

Dick's career has been defined by crises and controversies,[1] as well as a series of career comebacks.[2] In 2005, she headed the operation which led to the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. A subsequent review faulted the MPS for lapses, but Dick was cleared of personal blame in a 2007 trial. As commissioner, she has overseen a service affected by cuts to police budgets and staffing levels. Controversial aspects of Dick's tenure include the MPS's commissioner include the Met's use of stop and search tactics, the handling of recommendations made after the botched Operation Midland, and, in 2021, arrests of attendees at a candlelight vigil for Sarah Everard.

Early lifeEdit

Cressida Dick was born 16 October 1960.[3] She is the third and youngest child of Marcus William Dick (1920–1971),[4] Senior Tutor at Balliol College, Oxford,[5] and Professor of Philosophy at the University of East Anglia,[6] and Cecilia Rachel (1927–1995),[7] a University of Oxford historian, daughter of Wing Commander Denis Alfred Jex Buxton, granddaughter of the banker and politician Alfred Fowell Buxton, and great-granddaughter of Thomas Jex-Blake, headmaster of Rugby School.[8]

Dick was educated at Dragon School[9] and Oxford High School.[9][10] She studied at Balliol College, Oxford, arriving in 1979, where she gained a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Agriculture and Forest Sciences.[11] She obtained a Master of Studies (MSt) in criminology (2000) from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge,[12] graduating at the top of her class.[9] At Oxford, Dick was a wicketkeeper on a cricket team.[3]

Before joining the police, she briefly worked in a large accountancy firm.[2]

Police careerEdit

In 1983, Dick joined the Metropolitan Police as a constable,[2] patrolling a beat in the West End of London.[13] Within a decade, she was promoted to chief inspector.[13] In 1995, she transferred to Thames Valley Police,[2][14] where she was initially a superintendent and then chief superintendent and area commander for Oxford.[14]

She returned to MPS in 2001 as a commander and head of the diversity directorate.[14] In 2003, she became the head of Operation Trident,[9] which then numbered 300 officers.[15] Operation Trident investigates gang- and gun-related crime;[9][15] as head of the unit, Dick was credited with progress in reducing crime among "Yardie" drug gangs.[9]

Dick was commander of Operation Kratos, and in the immediate aftermath of 21 July 2005 London bombings, she was the gold commander[9] in the control room during the operation which led to the police fatally shooting Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian man who had been wrongly identified as a potential suicide bomber.[16][2] In a 2008 statement to the inquest investigating de Menezes's death, Dick expressed deep personal regret over de Menezes' death,[9] but said, "If you ask me whether I think anybody did anything wrong or unreasonable on the operation, I don't think they did."[2] The inquest jury recorded an open verdict.[2] In a separate trial, the Met was found to have committed catastrophic errors that had led to the de Menezes's death, but Dick was cleared of any "personal culpability" for the tragedy.[9][17] The affair nevertheless almost derailed Dick's career.[9][2] In 2019, Dick said, "The events of that day stay with one; I think about it quite often. It was a traumatic period. It was an awful time for so many people, obviously and most of all Jean Charles's family, the people who were there when it happened, the firearms officers, the surveillance officers."[18] De Menezes's family opposed Dick's later appointment as Met commissioner.[9]

In 2006, the Metropolitan Police Authority (led by Len Duvall) promoted her to Deputy Assistant Commissioner Security and Protection.[19] In 2009, the Metropolitan Police Authority promoted her to Assistant Commissioner Specialist Crime, in charge of the Specialist Crime Directorate.[20] She became the first woman to become an assistant commissioner.[17] Within the specialist crime directorate, Dick was trained as a hostage negotiator.[19][21]

In July 2011, Dick was appointed assistant commissioner, specialist operations (responsible for the MPS's counter-terrorism operations) following the resignation of John Yates in the wake of the News International phone hacking scandal.[22] In this role, Dick oversaw security operations for the 2012 London Olympics.[13]

Dick was appointed acting deputy commissioner, and held the post between the retirement of Tim Godwin and the commencement of the new deputy commissioner Craig Mackey's term at the beginning of 2012. She held the rank until 23 January 2012.[23]

Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe subsequently ousted her from her position as the MPS's counterterrorism head after their relationship became strained.[2][24] In mid-2014, Dick had been one of three short-listed candidates for the position of chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland,[2][25] but George Hamilton was selected for the role instead.[26] It was announced in December 2014 that she would retire from the police in 2015 to join the Foreign Office, in an unspecified director-general level posting.[27][13][28] The Foreign Office refused Freedom of Information requests for information on her job title, role and responsibilities, or her wage.[29] In the Daily Telegraph, Martin Evans wrote that she had "an unspecified and rather shadowy security role" at the Foreign Office.[9]

Commissioner of the Metropolitan PoliceEdit

On 22 February 2017, the Home Office and the MPS jointly announced that Dick would be appointed as the next Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Her appointment was supported by the Home Secretary Amber Rudd.[30][31] The appointment was formally made by Queen Elizabeth II,[31] via a warrant under the royal sign-manual,[3][24][32] on the recommendation of Rudd.[31][24] (MPS commissioners are selected by the Home Secretary with input from the mayor of London.[24]) Dick was selected over three other short-listed contenders: Sara Thornton, the chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council; Mark Rowley, an assistant commissioner for counterterrorism at the Met, and Stephen Kavanagh, the chief constable of the Essex Police.[33] The term of the police commissioner is five years, although two of Dick's last three predecessors were ousted early.[24]

Dick assumed office on 10 April 2017; her first official engagement was the funeral of PC Keith Palmer, the officer killed in a terrorist attack at the Westminster Bridge, outside the Palace of Westminster, the previous month.[34]

As commissioner, Dick has criticized police budget cuts, saying that they inhibit the MPS's operations, including counterterrorism efforts; she has attributed rising violent crime in London in part due to budget cuts.[35][36][37] In June 2017, after the terrorist attacks at Westminster, London Bridge, and Finsbury Park, Dick called for the government to give more resources for police; budgets and police force strength had declined from a peak in 2009/2010.[38] In 2018, the number of MPS police officers fell below 35,000 for the first time in 15 years; Dick sought to "get to well over 30,500 officers, more than 500 more than we currently have" by the end of 2019.[37] Dick blamed "the glamorisation of violence" and "social media being used to taunt other gangs" as additional factors fueling an increase in violent crime.[37]

Dick expressed concern in 2018 about the impact of a no-deal Brexit, saying that it would be costly and place the public at risk by reducing or eliminating the UK's access to databases, quick extradition processes, and law enforcement cooperation with other EU member states.[39][40]

To combat an increase in moped crime in London (in which criminals on scooters perpetrated "snatch and grab" phone thefts, other robberies, and acid attacks), Dick allowed pursuing police officers to ram moped-riding suspects off the road. The "tactical contact" maneuver was criticized by some as unduly risky, but Dick defended the practice, citing a decrease in moped-facilitated crime since police began to use the technique. Dick said that "tactical contact" was used to end moped pursuits on rare occasions by well-trained police who assessed all the risks, adding, that police aimed to "put the fear back into the criminal."[41] In late 2018, the Met under Dick approved plans to allow police officers to conduct armed foot patrols of high-crime residential areas, a break from the usual practice of British police not routinely carrying firearms. The plan was controversial; the Met stated that the plan would not be a precursor to routine armed patrols, but rather was a limited measure to combat violent, often gang-related crime in London.[42][43] Dick stated that such patrols would be deployed only in "extreme circumstances" to support the unarmed officers.[43]

Dick's official portrait as commissioner was unveiled in July 2019. The oil painting, which Dick paid for from her salary, depicts the commissioner in front of a map of London, wearing a police shirt rather than full tunic uniform. Dick sat for twenty hours for the portraitist Frances Bell. The painting hangs at the Hendon Police College alongside portraits of her 26 male predecessors. While portraits are usually unveiled after a commissioner has stepped down, Dick's portrait was unveiled as part of celebrations marking the centenary of the first woman joining the Met.[44][45]

Criticism of Dick's tenure has focused on the MPS's actions in the aftermath Operation Midland, a botched MPS investigation into alleged child sex abuse.[24] The investigation, triggered by the false allegations of a fantasist who was later convicted of perverting the course of justice and fraud, collapsed in 2016.[46][47] An inquiry led by Sir Richard Henriques identified 43 mistakes by the MPS and made 25 urgent recommendations for the MPS to adopt, but a Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMIC) report concluded that the MPS had delayed implementing most of the recommendations, with the MPS starting to adopt most reforms in 2019 under pressure from the Home Office.[46] Six former home secretaries said that the police operation undermined public confidence in the police, and Dick faced pressure to resign over the matter.[46][48] In 2020, however, the Independent Office for Police Conduct cleared Dick of allegations relating to the investigation, finding no evidence that she had "deliberately misled the public regarding her role" in the operation,[47] in which Dick had been briefly involved in 2014, before leaving the Met to join the Foreign Office.[49]

During Dick's tenure, racial disparities in MPS's use of stop and search were also controversial; black and ethnic minority Britons are many times more likely than white Britons to be stopped and searched by police. Critics contend that the disparity is caused by racial discrimination among police, and that the tactic alienates minority communities. Dick, with the support of Home Secretary Amber Rudd, staunchly defended the use of stop and search, contending that the measure effectively combats knife crime and saves lives.[50][51][52][53]

In 2018, Dick launched a campaign to increase the proportion of female officers in the MPS. At the time, 27% of Met officers were women; Dick aimed to increase that figure to 50% over time, although she did not set a target date.[54] In 2020, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the MPS announced that that police force would aim to have at least 40% of their recruits be from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds by 2022; Dick said that the MPS was "not free from racism or discrimination" and the MPS was "committed to eliminating the disproportionate use of force on Black Londoners."[55]

Dick has defended the controversial police use of live facial recognition systems.[56][57] In 2018, Dick said that police were "hamstrung" by legal limitations over the use of facial recognition.[57] in 2020, after the Royal United Services Institute issued a report recommending regulations on police use of the technology, Dick said that privacy campaigners were "ill-informed" and that facial recognition was a valuable tool to apprehend "the criminals, the rapists, the terrorists and all those who want to harm you, your family and friends."[56]

Dick has been critical of the depiction of police in the television drama Line of Duty; in 2019, while accepting that the police procedural was "good drama" and could raise public interest in the police, Dick said she was "absolutely outraged" at the show depicting "casual and extreme corruption" as a common occurrence in policing.[58]

In March 2021, Dick was criticised for Metropolitan Police's handling of a vigil for Sarah Everard, where officers arrested four attendees, alleging violations of COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings.[59][60] Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey led calls for her resignation.[59] Dick defended the MPS's conduct; said that policing was "fiendishly difficult"; and criticized what she called "armchair" critics.[2] Opposition Leader Keir Starmer, London mayor Sadiq Khan, campaigners and backbench MPs all criticised the Metropolitan Police.[2] Dick retained the confidence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel. Patel directed HMICFRS to look into the police response to the incident.[61] HMICFRS findings, reported on 31 March 2021, were that the police "reacted appropriately and were not heavy handed" and were "justified" in their stance with respect to the Covid regulations saying that the risks of transmission were "too great to ignore".[62]

Personal lifeEdit

Dick came out as a lesbian in April 2017, making her the highest-ranked gay officer in British police history. Her partner Helen is also a police officer.[63][64]

HonoursEdit

Dick was awarded the Queen's Police Medal for Distinguished Service in the 2010 New Year Honours.[65] She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to policing.[66] In September 2019, she was promoted Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in Theresa May's resignation honours.[67]

In 2013, she was named one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.[68]

Dick was awarded an honorary doctorate by Cranfield University in 2018.[69]

   
     

Ribbon Description Notes
  Order of the British Empire (DBE)
  Queen's Police Medal (QPM)
  Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
  • 2002
  • UK Version of this Medal
  Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • 2012
  • UK Version of this Medal
  Police Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Martin Evans, Dame Cressida Dick's career has been defined by controversy, Telegraph (14 March 2021).
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Vikram Dodd, With confidence in the Met falling, could this be the end for comeback Cressida?, The Guardian (14 March 2021).
  3. ^ a b c Dodd, Vikram (8 April 2017). "Cressida Dick: the Met's new commissioner needs her wits about her". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  4. ^ Building: Letters 1960-1975, Isaiah Berlin, Penguin Books, 2016, p. 248
  5. ^ Jones, John (April 1999). "Memorial inscriptions". Balliol College, Oxford. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  6. ^ Sanderson, Michael (2002). The History of the University of East Anglia, Norwich. London: Hambledon and London. ISBN 1852853360.
  7. ^ Building: Letters 1960-1975, Isaiah Berlin, Penguin Books, 2016, p. 248
  8. ^ Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th ed., vol. 1, ed. Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 2003, pp. 500, 622
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Evans, Martin (22 February 2017). "Cressida Dick - A profile of Scotland Yard's first female Commissioner". Daily Telegraph.
  10. ^ "Pioneer: Cressida Dick". Oxford High School website. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  11. ^ "First female head of the Metropolitan Police". Balliol College website. Balliol College, University of Oxford. 23 February 2017. Archived from the original on 13 April 2017.
  12. ^ Wynter-Vincent, Naomi (2002). "Fitzwilliam Women's Dinner" (PDF). Optima. Cambridge University Press (2): 16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2008.
  13. ^ a b c d Halliday, Josh (1 December 2014). "Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick to leave Met Police". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  14. ^ a b c Hugh Muir, 'If she felt she had made a huge mistake she would have said so and she would not have sought to move forward', The Guardian (15 September 2006).
  15. ^ a b Cindi John, The force behind Operation Trident, BBC News (19 October 2004).
  16. ^ Edwards, Richard; Rayner, Gordon (12 December 2008). "Jean Charles de Menezes inquest: Jury reaches open verdict". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  17. ^ a b Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick to leave Met Police, BBC News (1 December 2014).
  18. ^ Mark Townsend, Cressida Dick says death of Jean Charles de Menezes stayed with her, The Guardian (10 February 2019).
  19. ^ a b Profile: Commander Cressida Dick, BBC News (6 October 2008).
  20. ^ "Metropolitan Police Authority appoints new MPS Assistant Commissioner Specialist Crime" (Press release). Metropolitan Police Authority. 30 June 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  21. ^ Christina Lamb, Cressida Dick on lockdown, protests and London’s difficult year, The Times of London (November 28, 2020).
  22. ^ "Phone Hacking: botched de Menezes operation officer now counter-terrorism head". The Daily Telegraph. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  23. ^ "Acting Deputy Commissioner Cressida Dick". Metropolitan Police Service. 27 December 2011. Archived from the original on 23 December 2011.
  24. ^ a b c d e f Vikram Dodd, Cressida Dick walking a tightrope over policing of Sarah Everard vigil, The Guardian (14 March 2021).
  25. ^ Henry McDonald, Met's Cressida Dick faces interview for top Northern Ireland police job, The Guardian (29 May 2014).
  26. ^ Henry McDonald,George Hamilton to be chief constable of Police Service of Northern Ireland, The Guardian (29 May 2014).
  27. ^ "Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick to leave Met Police". BBC News. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  28. ^ Peachey, Paul (2 December 2014). "Britain's top policewoman quits Scotland Yard for the Foreign Office". i.
  29. ^ Gallagher, Ryan (10 April 2015). "Secrecy Shrouds Unknown Role of Top UK Government Official". The Intercept.
  30. ^ "Met Police appoints first female chief Cressida Dick". BBC News. 22 February 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  31. ^ a b c "UK Appoints First Woman Scotland Yard Chief in 187-Year History". Indo-Asian News Service. 23 February 2017.
  32. ^ "No. 61905". The London Gazette. 20 April 2007. p. 8434.
  33. ^ Vikram Dodd, Two women among final four for Metropolitan police top job, The Guardian (2 February 2017).
  34. ^ Davies, Caroline (10 April 2017). "PC Keith Palmer funeral: police pay tribute to officer's heroism". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  35. ^ "UK's terror fight 'puts unsustainable strain on police'". BBC News. 22 September 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  36. ^ Dodd, Vikram (31 October 2017). "Met police chief warns further cuts will make it harder to fight crime". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  37. ^ a b c Met chief says budget cuts have contributed to rise in violent crime The Guardian. 18 May 2018
  38. ^ Frances Perraudin & Alan Travis, Cressida Dick calls for more money for the Met after terrorist attacks, The Guardian (20 June 2017).
  39. ^ No-deal Brexit could put public at risk, says Met police chief, The Guardian (27 December 2018).
  40. ^ Danny Shaw, Cressida Dick: post-Brexit information sharing 'clunkier', BBC News (4 July 2018).
  41. ^ Lizzie Dearden, Police 'must put fear back into criminals', Met chief says after officers start ramming mopeds, The Independent (30 November 2018).
  42. ^ Vikram Dodd, Met police push ahead with armed patrols despite backlash, The Guardian (1 December 2018).
  43. ^ a b Jane Howdle, Police plan of armed patrols would turn residential streets into 'battlegrounds' say critics, Yahoo News UK (30 November 2018).
  44. ^ Martin Bentham (12 July 2019). "Cressida Dick portrait marks 100 years of women in the Met". Evening Standard.
  45. ^ "Portrait unveiled of the first female Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police". ITV News. 12 July 2019.
  46. ^ a b c Martin Evans, Robert Mendick & Charles Hymas, Cressida Dick faces fresh demands to resign after report into Carl Beech blunders, The Telegraph (13 March 2020).
  47. ^ a b Met Commissioner Cressida Dick cleared over paedophile ring inquiry, BBC News (9 March 2020).
  48. ^ David Brown & Fiona Hamilton, Operation Midland hurt faith in police, say former home secretaries, The Times (8 March 2021).
  49. ^ Matthew Weaver, Cressida Dick criticises PM over speech to police recruits, The Guardian (17 September 2019).
  50. ^ Dipesh Gadher and Christina Lamb, Cressida Dick: Black boys 'nine times more likely to be murdered', The Times of London (28 November 2020).
  51. ^ Mark Townsend, Black people '40 times more likely' to be stopped and searched in UK, The Guardian (4 May 2019).
  52. ^ Jamie Grierson, Met carried out 22,000 searches on young black men during lockdown, The Guardian (8 July 2020).
  53. ^ Matthew Weaver & Rowena Mason, Amber Rudd backs Met police chief on use of stop and search, The Guardian (9 August 2017).
  54. ^ Vikram Dodd, Met police launch drive to balance the gender ranks, The Guardian (22 November 2018).
  55. ^ Elian Peltier, London Police to Recruit 40% of Officers From Minority Backgrounds, New York Times (13 November 2020).
  56. ^ a b Met Police chief defends facial recognition from 'ill-informed' critics, BBC News (25 February 2020).
  57. ^ a b Damien Gayle, Police 'hamstrung' over facial recognition tech, says Met chief, The Guardian (10 November 2018).
  58. ^ Ben Quinn, Met chief 'outraged' at Line of Duty over corruption portrayal, The Guardian (25 September 2019).
  59. ^ a b "Sarah Everard: Met criticised over Clapham vigil policing". BBC News. 14 March 2021. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  60. ^ Da Silva, Chantal (14 March 2021). "Sarah Everard vigil - latest: Cressida Dick under pressure to resign after 'disturbing' police response". The Independent. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  61. ^ Sarah Everard: Met Police chief will not resign over vigil scenes, BBC News (15 March 2021).
  62. ^ Osborne, John; Stone, Jon (31 March 2021). "Police 'acted appropriately and were not heavy handed' at Sarah Everard vigil, review says". Independent. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  63. ^ Gerdes, Stefanie (19 April 2017). "London's highest ranking police officer quietly comes out". Gay Star News. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  64. ^ Tom Harper (30 September 2018). "Keep sexuality undercover, Met police boss Cressida Dick told Brian Paddick". The Times. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  65. ^ "No. 59282". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2009. p. 25.
  66. ^ "No. 61092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2014. p. N9.
  67. ^ "Boycott 'doesn't give a toss' about award critics". 10 September 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  68. ^ "The Power List 2013". Woman's Hour. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  69. ^ "UK's most senior police officer awarded honorary degree from Cranfield" (Press release). Cranfield University.
  70. ^ "Resignation Honours 2019" (PDF). gov.uk. Cabinet Office. 10 September 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019. KBE/DBE Cressida DICK CBE QPM Commissionerof the Metropolitan Police Service. For public service.
Police appointments
Preceded by
John Yates
Assistant Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
(Specialist Crime Directorate)

2009–2011
Succeeded by
Lynne Owens
Assistant Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
(Specialist Operations)

2011–2015
Succeeded by
Mark Rowley
Preceded by
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe
Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
2017–present
Incumbent