Home Editor's View Taking The Reins

Taking The Reins

by Brian Sims
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI: Editor of Risk UK

Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI: Editor of Risk UK

Late last month, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced that Cressida Dick CBE QPM would be taking office as the first-ever female Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service. The appointment was ratified by Her Majesty The Queen following a recommendation from Rudd. The views of Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, were also considered by the Home Secretary as part of this recommendation, with the new incumbent taking over the role from (then) current Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM on Wednesday 22 February.

Working with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and, indeed, partners from right across the criminal justice system, Cressida Dick is now responsible for overseeing the Metropolitan Police Service’s crucial work in preventing crime and bringing offenders to justice, while also continuing to ensure an effective national response to the ongoing threat posed by terrorism.

An exceptional leader with a demonstrably clear vision for the future of the Metropolitan Police Service, Cressida Dick is absolutely the right choice to lead the Met as this present Conservative Government continues its detailed task of reforming the police service. Experience gained as the Met’s national policing lead on counter-terrorism will help her to meet head-on the myriad threats posed to security in London.

Before 2005, Cressida attracted relatively little media attention, but became well-known as having been the officer in command of the operation which led to the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. Some four years further on, she was promoted to the rank of Assistant Commissioner, thus becoming the first female to hold this rank substantively.

Referencing her new responsibilities in an official statement, Cressida Dick – who departed the Met back in December 2014 after a 31-year career to pursue a role with the Foreign Office – duly observed: “This is a great responsibility and an amazing opportunity. I’m looking forward immensely to protecting and serving the people of London and working again with the fabulous women and men of the Met.”

The appointment now means that five of the most senior figures serving in the British criminal justice system are women, with Lynne Owens presently heading up the National Crime Agency, Sara Thornton – who was in the running for the Met Commissioner’s role along with Essex Police chief constable Stephen Kavanagh and Scotland Yard’s Mark Rowley – chairing the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Alison Saunders presiding over the Crown Prosecution Service and Rudd in charge at the Home Office. “A brilliant beacon,” opined Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, “for women within and beyond this force.”

The Met is a policing force like no other. It employs no less than 43,000 people and operates on a budget of £3 billion. That’s a jaw-dropping sum of money, but doesn’t prevent the incoming Commissioner from facing an immediate budgetary crisis, with the Met now having to save hundreds of millions of pounds under austerity measures while contending with political and public pressure to maintain officer numbers on the streets.

Going forward, squaring those two circles will be no easy task.

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