Future of Metropolitan Police chief hinges on message scandal response – Khan

The future of Metropolitan Police chief Dame Cressida Dick hangs in the balance over her response to outrage sparked by racist, misogynist and homophobic messages exchanged by officers.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on Wednesday said his continued trust and confidence in Dame Cressida hinges on how she addresses problems with the culture at the force and her plan to win back the trust of the public.

Mr Khan is responsible for holding the Commissioner to account and is consulted by the Home Secretary over who is appointed to the role.

His comments came after a series of disturbing messages exchanged by a group of officers, primarily based at Charing Cross police station, were published by a watchdog last week.

Mr Khan said he has demanded answers over how Dame Cressida will reform the culture in the Met and restore public confidence
Mr Khan said he has demanded answers over how Dame Cressida will reform the culture in the Met and restore public confidence (Victoria Jones/PA)

Asked if Dame Cressida still has his trust and confidence, Mr Khan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “That will be contingent upon the response from the Commissioner the next time I see her.”

Mr Khan said he sees the Commissioner “on a regular basis”, adding: “The next time I see her I’ll expect to see a response to the two big questions that I posed.”

He told the programme: “So the first part of what I expect to see is – what is the response from the Commissioner as to how she intends to address the culture, address the situation, where too many police officers are behaving in a way that’s unacceptable?

“And by the way, nine of those 14 police officers – you mentioned Charing Cross – are still serving.

“And secondly, what is the plan to win back the trust and confidence in the public in relation to the police service that police our capital city?”

Mr Khan told the broadcaster two of the nine officers still serving after being caught up in the scandal have been promoted, while a 10th – a former officer – is still employed by the Met as a contractor in a staff role.

The officers from a now disbanded team were primarily based at Charing Cross Police station
The officers from a now disbanded team were primarily based at Charing Cross Police station (Michael Stephens/PA)

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) took the unusual step of publishing the WhatsApp and Facebook messages, which were uncovered as part of a probe into behaviour within the Charing Cross team between 2016 and 2018.

Some 14 officers were investigated as a result, with two found to have a case to answer for gross misconduct. One was sacked and another resigned before he would have been dismissed.

Asked if all of those involved should be sacked, Mr Khan said: “I think Londoners can’t understand why nine of these 14 police officers are still serving.

“I’ve asked that question.”