Has Cressida Dick earned her stripes?
24 February 2017
For the first time in its 188 year history, the Metropolitan Police have appointed a woman as their commissioner, Cressida Dick.
Ms. Dick was, of course, not the only woman on the interview list, which is itself, a huge step forward. And, not only does she hold this role as the UK’s top police officer, but the leaders of the three most important policing bodies, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, the head of the National Crime Agency and the president of the National Police Chief's Council are now all women.
How will this change policing? In a recent article in the Guardian, Sara Thornton, president of the NPCC, and one of the other interview candidates, suggested that the days of ‘boss knows best’ policing were outdated. The pressure on policing from scarce resourcing and the tension between traditional crime and 21st century crimes such as cyber terrorism mean that the processes of policing need to be modernised. This will not only require strategic decisions on resourcing, but also cultural decisions on leadership, management and how to enable and engage a workforce faced with new and unknown dilemmas.
Is this an opportunity, therefore, for Cressida Dick to create a paradigm shift in the way that policing is carried out in the capital?
She also has, of course, the opportunity to influence other UK forces and indeed, the global policing landscape, since these more modern crimes have no respect for national boundaries.
Cressida Dick has extensive experience to put her in good stead for this challenge. For some reason, the press want to dwell on her one high profile career error of judgement. They do not defend the fact that she was put into a hair-trigger moment of decision. Nor do they speak highly enough of her considerable achievements as national policing lead for counter-terrorism; or that, since December 2014, she has been working for the Foreign Office, in a Director General position. The specifics of the latter appointment were highly secret, but one can only suppose that she was engaged in operations of national security.
It would seem, once again, that we live in interesting times. The security of our capital and of our wider police force is in the hands of three women and the one with the top job has more than earned her stripes for the responsibility of keeping us safe.