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Dick: victim of a “PR-obsessed mayor”?

London’s police chief: unfairly ousted? UK Press Pool/Getty

The ousting of Cressida Dick is outrageous, says Libby Purves in The Times: a fine police commissioner “spiked by a lightweight, politically anxious and PR-obsessed mayor”, Sadiq Khan. Nowhere in the commentariat’s “knee-jerk rejoicing” is any mention of her successes: cutting violence and robbery in London, a “swashbuckling swoop” against moped attacks, and “ingenuity” in coping with swingeing budget cuts. Instead, she has been “damned” for all manner of problems in which she was not directly involved: officers taking photos of corpses and sharing the images on WhatsApp; detectives missing a serial killer of young gay men. As so often, when “the sea is rough and there’s been a brawl in the engine-room”, too many people think the answer is to “throw the captain overboard”.

The loudest cry is that “women have lost trust in the police” after the “awful and unusual” murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer. And probably Dick should have kept a tighter eye on policing the vigil that followed, given the risk that hostility to the police would push it out of control. But she was at the sharp end of unprecedented lockdown laws and a “general and woeful lack of clarity” about how they were to be enforced. Whatever went wrong, surely the answer is not to “humiliate and sack” the most powerful woman in the force. Try telling that to our “ineffective mayor”, who thinks demoralising the Met will make him look strong.

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