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With Cressida Dick gone, will the Met regain the public’s faith?

24 February 2022

By James Surallie

In her resignation letter as Metropolitan Policy Commissioner, which surprised many as only hours before she declared her intentions to carry on, Cressida Dick stated that she had been left with “no choice” after London Mayor Sadiq Khan made it clear to her that he had no confidence in her leadership. This apparent lack of faith seems to have stemmed from her response to the latest damning report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which unearthed evidence of racism, misogyny, and harassment within the Met.

Although the report was mainly focused on police at Charing Cross station, with the Met apportioning blame to a “small number” of officers for their inappropriate attitudes, the publicity surrounding the report did not make for easy reading, nor fill members of the public with much confidence that this was just a few ‘bad apples’, and this was the latest in a long line of communications blunders from the institution. 

Policing in the UK is by consent, which means that the trust and confidence the public has in the police service is vital. However, it appears the public’s faith in the police is rapidly evaporating, as a recent poll discovered that half of the public have less confidence in the police than they used to, and this has certainly not been helped by its comms strategy to date. 

Yesterday, Metropolitan Deputy Commissioner, Sir Stephen House said Dame Cressida Dick had been removed without following the “clear procedure laid down in statue to allow for the replacement of a police chief officer” and demanded that Home Secretary Priti Patel review her dismissal. If this turns out to be true, then it won’t just be a communications crisis, but a political one. 

As the bookies start to predict who will be next commissioner, and with Priti Patel promising to bring in a leader who can tackle the “stark and sobering” challenges facing the force, there will be hope among members of the police that Cressida Dick’s resignation will help to restore the public’s faith in their abilities. Whoever it may be that takes up the helm, it is vital that they tackle this problem head on, and communicate this strategy to the public.