London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been accused of leaving a “void” at the top of the country’s biggest police force after Dame Cressida Dick was dramatically forced out as Metropolitan Police Commissioner.
Dame Cressida quit on 10 February after losing the support of Mr Khan over her plan to reform the force following a string of scandals, accusations of a toxic working culture - and the murder of Sarah Everard.
Home Secretary Priti Patel was said to have been angered by Mr Khan’s failure to inform her of his intention to request a meeting with the commissioner, which she considered “rude and unprofessional”.
So, who is in the running to take over as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner?
Why has Cressida Dick resigned?
Dame Cressida has faced a series of scandals during her time leading Britain’s biggest police force – most recently concerning violently racist, misogynist and homophobic messages exchanged by officers based at Charing Cross police station that were published by a watchdog.
And there was fury over the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, as well as the force’s actions following her death in tackling a vigil held in her memory during coronavirus restrictions. There was also clumsy advice telling women in trouble to flag down a passing bus that later had to be retracted.
In her statement, she said: “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.”
Who is set to become the new head of Scotland Yard?
It’s not yet known who will become the new leader of the Met Police.
However, a few big names in the policing world have been thrown into the spotlight to take over the beleaguered force.
According to The Guardian, the potential candidates include:
- Martin Hewitt - current chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council and former senior Met officer, with a military background. He is recognisable from pandemic TV briefings - and consequently has spent hours with ministers at No 10 in the past year.
- Neil Basu - current assistant Met Police commissioner and ex-head of counter-terrorism. He would be the first Met commissioner with Asian heritage, is reportedly seen as widely capabale among colleagues and is in the running to also be the next head of the National Crime Agency.
- Simon Byrne - chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and a former assistant Met commissioner.
- Mark Rowley - former head of counter-terrorism and lost out to Cressida Dick as the pair went head to head for the job last time.
- Matt Jukes - assistant Met Police commissioner and now interim head of counter- terrorism. Previously, Jukes was police chief of South Wales police force.
- Louise Rolfe - assistant Met Police commissioner and highly regarded with a focus on tackling violence against women.
- Dave Thompson - West Midlands police chief is set to stand down this year, although he’s a top candidate he might turn the position down to take on a role within force watchdog.
- Andy Cooke - the former chief of Merseyside police is now with the policing inspectorate and has a strong focus on taking on tackling violent crime.
Can the mayor of London sack the Met Commissioner?
Dame Cressida announced she was stepping down from the job on Thursday just hours after insisting she had no intention of going during an interview with the BBC.
It is understood she was called to a meeting with the mayor at 4.30pm on February 10 over the reforms, but declined to attend and offered her resignation instead, catching the Home Office by surprise.
The Commissioner is accountable in law for exercising police powers and to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).
Ms Dick was held to account for the delivery of policing by the Home Secretary and the Mayor of London - therefore they both have the power to find new recuits for the job.
Who will appoint the new Met Police Commissioner?
Ms Patel will oversee the appointment of the new commissioner and more details on how she will set about searching for a replacement are expected to be confirmed in due course.
She has the final decision on the next appointment, although the process requires her to consult Mr Khan as Mayor, who said he would be “working closely” with the Home Secretary to find a successor.
She has the final decision because the Met has roles beyond London which touch on national security.
The search for a replacement by Ms Patel comes as the Met is investigating government officials over lockdown-busting Downing Street parties, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The Met, which was heavily criticised for an apparent hesitation to launch a probe into the alleged parties, said the investigation continues as normal and remains under the control of Commander Catherine Roper.
Ms Patel, who reportedly had past clashes with Dame Cressida, praised the officer’s “steadfast dedication”.
The Home Secretary added: “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.”
A message from the editor:
Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.