Jonathan Maunders looks at Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick’s sordid record and her relationship with the Tories
Throughout Monday’s sideshow in parliament, Boris Johnson consistently clung to the ongoing Metropolitan Police investigation as he dodged questions about Sue Gray’s ‘update’. Indeed, it is this investigation that ensured a more detailed assessment couldn’t be released.
There was bemusement and anger last week when it became clear that the Met had requested Sue Gray’s report be limited while the investigation took place. Even a string of Tory MPs, lawyers, and other establishment voices criticised the move, some going as far as suggesting a cover-up.
It’s not hard to see why. The Met spent weeks dismissing calls to investigate the sixteen parties now revealed by Sue Gray. Then, amid growing rumours of the report being particularly damning, Cressida Dick abruptly announced that the Met would be investigating after all. This was followed by the news that Sue Gray now couldn’t publish those details being investigated.
Justified claims of a cover-up have raised yet more questions about Cressida Dick and her relationship with the government. Even on the left, some won’t call out the police and its leadership, swallowing myths of independence and justice. However, a quick look at Dick’s record should blow those myths to pieces.
Jean Charles de Menezes
Cressida Dick, in her role as commander of the violent and nonsensical Operation Kratos, led the control room during the fatal shooting, by police, of innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes on 22 July 2005.
In a statement made to the 2008 inquest investigating de Menezes's death, Dick said, "If you ask me whether I think anybody did anything wrong or unreasonable on the operation, I don't think they did.” This is despite an unnamed police surveillance officer revealing, to the same inquest, that he deleted a digital record quoting Dick as being aware that de Menezes was unarmed during the operation.
Instead of being sanctioned for her role in the killing, Cressida Dick spent the following years enjoying consistent promotions, much to the dismay of de Menezes’s grieving family. She went on to oversee security operations at the 2012 Olympics, and even spent time in an unspecified security role at the Foreign Office, before becoming Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in 2017.
Stop and search
As Met Commissioner, Cressida Dick has overseen an increase in the awful use of stop-and-search powers that constantly reveal the institutional racism of the police. Analysis has shown that young black men were stopped and searched by police more than 20,000 times in London during the first coronavirus lockdown in 2020, equalling more than a quarter of all black 15 to 24 year-olds in the city.
Despite such damning statistics and the alienation the policy continues to create in minority communities, Dick regularly defends its use and has been joined in doing so by successive Home Secretaries. Indeed, the shielding relationship between the Met Commissioner and government has extended beyond just stop and search.
In March 2021, Sarah Everard was brutally murdered by a serving police officer. Since her murder, the scale of the abuse of power and violence against women perpetrated by police officers has come to the fore. It has since been revealed that over 600 officers faced allegations of sexual misconduct since 2018 and several serving officers have been charged for rape and sexual assault in recent months.
On Tuesday, the Independent Office for Police Conduct released on a report which highlights the institutional culture of misogyny, racism and homophobia within the Met’s ranks. The report states, “We believe these incidents are not isolated or simply the behaviour of a few ‘bad apples’”, and goes on to say, “The culture of bullying appears to have been accepted and not challenged.”
At the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard, Cressida Dick presided over police officers aggressively storming those protesting, violently pinning women to the floor and arresting four people on the flimsy grounds of violating Covid-19 rules.
This clear attack on the right to protest, as well as its sheer insensitivity, naturally led to widespread calls for Dick to resign. Not only did she refuse, but she was backed by both the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, and Boris Johnson. Patel then compounded the sense of injustice further by announcing a two-year extension to Cressida Dick’s contract.
Anyone still expecting Cressida Dick to be a fair and objective arbiter on Tory rule-breaking will be disappointed. There is little to suggest from her record that she will be anything of the sort.
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