Dame Cressida Dick’s term as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has been extended by two years despite a continued backlash over her leadership.
The force has come under heavy fire in recent months, with criticism directed towards its handling of protests in the wake of the Sarah Everard case and the 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan.
A long-awaited report on the latter, published in June, branded the Met as “institutionally corrupt” and prompted calls for Dame Cressida to resign.
But it was confirmed on Friday that the UK’s top officer will continue in her job until April 2024 after a recommendation by the Home Secretary was approved by the Queen.
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Whispers about Dame Cressida’s extension emerged earlier this week, which saw a group of victims – including the mother of murdered Stephen Lawrence – write an open letter in objection.
The letter – shared with the Daily Mail – said the commissioner “must be properly investigated for her conduct”, along with her “predecessors and those in her inner circle, who she appointed and who have questions to answer”.
Announcing the extension, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I am pleased to announce that Dame Cressida will continue to lead the Metropolitan Police until April 2024 and wish to thank her for her service to date.
“Her extension will provide continuity and stability as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and recruit 20,000 additional police officers.”
Dame Cressida said she was “immensely honoured and humbled” to continue in the role and said her officers would “strive to prevent and reduce violence and the crimes Londoners care most about”.
The murder of Ms Everard by a serving constable in March sparked widespread anger across the UK, which was compounded by the Met’s perceived heavy-handedness at protests which followed.
Thousands of people marched on Clapham Common, in south-west London, and across the capital to campaign for greater protection for women against violence.
But the event was marred by jarring images of officers arresting protesters at the scene – many of them women – in an apparently forceful manner.
The report into Daniel Morgan’s murder in Sydenham, south-east London, 34 years ago was then published a few months later – which brought more flak for Dame Cressida.
The Met has also faced ongoing accusations of racial bias in its use of stop and search powers and was hit with criticism over the security of Wembley stadium during the final of the Euro 2020 championships.
And Dame Cressida has had to deal with the fallout from Operation Midland, a multimillion-pound investigation during which detectives were duped by false claims of a VIP sex abuse ring made by fantasist Carl Beech.
But Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents more than 30,000 officers in London, said the commissioner had the “full support of the rank and file”.
And Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he also supported the decision, adding: “This will provide the experienced and strong leadership we need as our city emerges from the pandemic.”
Dame Cressida, who became commissioner in April 2017 and was the first woman to lead London’s force since its inception in 1829, had been due to vacate the role in April next year.
She added: “I look forward to continuing to work with my dedicated, courageous colleagues and the public to create an even more visible, stronger and professional Met.”
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