‘Imminent’ decision on future of Cressida Dick as Met commissioner

Ministers and the Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, have begun discussions about whether her turbulent term in charge of Britain’s biggest force will be extended, with a decision said to be “imminent”.

Dick, the first woman in charge of the London force since it was established in 1829, is on a five-year contract that expires in April 2022. She could step down then or have the contract extended for a period.

The commissioner of the Met is appointed by the home secretary, who has to have due regard for the views of the mayor of London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan. Downing Street is also expected to have a say. Dick and Priti Patel, the home secretary, discussed the commissioner’s future last week, it is understood.

The Home Office is more determined to decide the Met’s future leadership than in 2017 when Dick was selected, it is understood. Then, Khan was in the driving seat, with the Conservatives preaching a doctrine of “localism”. One source stressed this was a “different Home Office” that believed it should be more involved in shaping the direction of policing.

Sources said discussions between Patel and Khan, and between Khan and Dick, were scheduled and covered “a broad range of topics” but would give no more detail.

Dick’s tenure has been controversial. She angered some with an expansion of stop and search, with community confidence in the Met dropping and the force’s chequered history on race under the microscope.

Others believe she has escaped having to properly account for her role in Operation Midland, the disastrous Met investigation into a VIP paedophile ring that falsely suspected prominent individuals. Detectives fell for the lies of a fantasist who was later jailed.

Dick was also personally criticised by the official report into the Daniel Morgan murder, which accused her of obstructing its work, a finding she denies. She oversaw the fallout after a serving Met officer kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard in south London this year.

Dick is seen as having struggled to get a grip on violent crime, which she came into office saying was her top priority.

Possible future commissioners include Martin Hewitt, the chair of the National Police Chiefs Council and a former senior Met officer who joined policing from the military.

Assistant commissioner Neil Basu, until recently head of counter-terrorism, is another frontrunner, and would be the first minority ethnic commissioner. Andy Cooke, a former chief of Merseyside police, now with the policing inspectorate, is another possible candidate, as are Lynne Owens, the director general of the National Crime Agency, and Matt Jukes, an assistant commissioner in the Met after serving as chief of South Wales police. Simon Byrne, the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, could also be a contender.

The Home Office has been deciding whether it wants a reformer to change the Met. “Some in government view it as a basket case,” said a source, while another said ministers were unconvinced that only someone with extensive experience of the force could lead it and shake it up.

The Home Office and Downing Street have voiced their confidence in Dick. The Met declined to comment on speculation about her future.

A five-year term is normal for a Met commissioner. This century only John Stevens and Bernard Hogan-Howe have completed their term, with Ian Blair and Sir Paul Stephenson both resigning amid controversy.

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