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What an unlucky police commissioner Cressida Dick has proved to be. She has suffered a litany of catastrophes during her time as head of the Metropolitan police – and to hear her tell it, not one has been her fault.

No: the fact is that her failure to take responsibility is the root of all her problems.

Because she will not accept blame or set an example as a leader, she has lost the confidence of both the public and her own officers.

Her mantra seems to be: ‘It’s not my responsibility, guv. Nothing to do with me.’

She is weak, indecisive and, on the evidence of her own record, incompetent. The time is long past for her to fall on her sword.

Yet astonishingly, reports yesterday claimed that she intends next month to attempt to extend her five-year fixed contract, which is due to expire in April.

Recent calls for her to resign have been brushed away on the basis that her tenure was due to come to an end next year regardless.

Now we know she reportedly intends to continue running the force — a thought that deeply concerns me.

If she cannot recognise that she must resign then, for the good of the force and the safety of all Londoners, it’s up to Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, and the Home Secretary Priti Patel to tell Dame Cressida that she must go. 

But that very honorific must make her feel invulnerable. Only yesterday morning, at an investiture ceremony at St James’s Palace, she was appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire by Prince Charles.

It is inevitable, as night follows day, that Met Commissioners will be honoured by the Establishment, receiving peerages, knighthoods, damehoods and various other baubles.

But the timing of this honour is particularly unfortunate. Coming as it does in the wake of two more deeply embarrassing foul-ups this month alone, her appearance at the palace will leave her officers feeling more exasperated than ever.

Yet astonishingly, reports yesterday claimed that she intends next month to attempt to extend her five-year fixed contract, which is due to expire in April.

Yet astonishingly, reports yesterday claimed that she intends next month to attempt to extend her five-year fixed contract, which is due to expire in April.

Yet astonishingly, reports yesterday claimed that she intends next month to attempt to extend her five-year fixed contract, which is due to expire in April. 

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the Home Office, and Priti Patel in particular, want Dame Cressida to stay.

The accident-prone commissioner makes a convenient human shield. As long as she is absorbing all the flak, senior politicians are out of the firing line.

 I have been demanding her resignation since the debacle of the women’s vigil for murder victim Sarah Everard in March this year.

The 33-year-old marketing executive was abducted and killed by a serving police officer, PC Wayne Couzens, as she walked home.

Cressida Dick and her team seemed to be caught completely unawares by the number of women who turned up to mourn and demonstrate.

At the time, I was staggered that the Met could be oblivious to the depth of public feeling.

The Duchess of Cambridge was one of those, after all, who quietly came to express her sorrow. What clearer indication could there be that the killing touched a national nerve? 

Never was it more important that a protest was policed with sensitivity and respect. A woman was dead at the hands of a policeman.

Yet the Met ordered the cancellation of the vigil and then, when women turned up in defiance, bullied and manhandled them in pictures that shocked the country.

And how starkly those scenes contrasted with the policing of other protests, such as the Black Lives Matter marches last year, when some officers took the knee in sympathy with the crowds and others ran away from protesters. 

Now we had the distressing spectacle of women chanting ‘Arrest your own!’ during clashes with police — on a day when the killer had indeed been arrested and charged.

I believe Dame Cressida’s position became untenable that day. Yet she has clung on for months — and last week, as Couzens pleaded guilty to murder, she had the gall to say she felt betrayed by his actions.

It seems to me that it was Cressida who betrayed her officers. Wayne Couzens should never have been allowed to wear the uniform in the first place. 

Nearly ten years ago, he had such a bad reputation among colleagues at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary for making female officers feel uncomfortable, he was crudely nicknamed ‘the rapist’.

While serving with the Met, he was reported for driving while semi-naked.

Two accusations of indecent exposure were not properly investigated.

The ultimate responsibility lies with Cressida Dick.

If Couzens had been properly investigated and dismissed, as he would certainly have been by most employers, Sarah Everard might well be alive today.

Yet that is far from her only disgrace. The errors of her tenure come thick and fast.

There has already been another major blunder since Couzens appeared at the Old Bailey on Friday.

Scenes at Wembley stadium on Sunday shamed the nation, as hundreds — probably thousands — of football supporters without tickets for the Euro final stormed the gates. After brawling with stewards and overcoming the pitifully inadequate police presence, they gained access to the stands.

After the match, as the crowd tried to leave, we saw more outbreaks of violence and chaos.

The police were powerless to prevent this, because they were not adequately prepared.

Senior officers can hardly blame a lack of prior warning.

The accident-prone commissioner makes a convenient human shield. As long as she is absorbing all the flak, senior politicians are out of the firing line

The accident-prone commissioner makes a convenient human shield. As long as she is absorbing all the flak, senior politicians are out of the firing line

The accident-prone commissioner makes a convenient human shield. As long as she is absorbing all the flak, senior politicians are out of the firing line

Talk of storming the turnstiles had been all over social media at the weekend. It’s one more example of dreadful leadership and inexplicable decisions by the commissioner.

And it’s one for which Britain will pay a high price.

Many believe that the collapse of security at Wembley, together with the vile racism directed at some players, have effectively ended our hopes of hosting the World Cup in 2030.

We now know the final itself came close to being called off. What an international humiliation that would have been. Add to this the epidemic of knife crime, which has seen teenage murders in the capital soar to a 13-year high, the findings of the investigation in to the 1987 axe murder of Daniel Morgan that the Met has been ‘institutionally corrupt’, and numerous other scandals. 

Before she was appointed to the top job, I had great respect for Cressida Dick. When I was Chief Crown Prosecutor, and then chief executive of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners until 2017, I knew her slightly and regarded her as an outstanding investigator.

Unfortunately, her talents have not proved equal to managing the biggest budget of any police force in the country, with tens of thousands of officers under her command.

She complains that she is the target of ‘armchair critics’. As usual, she underestimates the scale of the problem — many of her critics are the people who feel directly let down by her blunders, and we are by no means confined to armchairs.

The basis of good policing is consent. The public must trust their police force, and to do that they must have confidence in its leadership.

If that trust disappears, they will stop reporting crimes or coming forward as witnesses, and the fabric of a secure society will be ultimately at stake.

Just as importantly, the police themselves must believe they are well-led. If they lose confidence, the entire system breaks down.

Right now, thousands of officers are struggling to do their jobs, under the most trying conditions since the last world war.

They cannot cope if their boss is floundering, too.

For everybody’s sake, Cressida Dick must go now. 

Nazir Afzal OBE is a former Chief Crown Prosecutor for North-West England. 

Source: Daily Mail UK

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