Will the next Met Commissioner be even woker? From the counter-terror chief who threatened to jail journalists and blamed terrorism on social mobility to the Merseyside cop who said violent criminals were ‘NOT inherently bad people’
- Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey among those calling for Dame Cressida to go amid a growing wave of opposition
- However, it is understood both Home Secretary Priti Patel and Sadiq Khan want her contract to be extended
- Senior figures want to ‘use that time to make sure other candidates are ready’, MailOnline understands
- One Tory MP said Dame Cressida needed to be replaced but the current crop of candidates are ‘too woke’
- Her possible successors include Neil Basu, Andy Cooke, Simon Byrne, Martin Hewitt and Matt Jukes
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey was among those calling for Cressida Dick (pictured) to go, saying ‘hard-working Met officers… deserve far better’
There was growing opposition today at the prospect of Cressida Dick’s likely reappointment as Metropolitan Police commissioner when her contract comes up for renewal in April.
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey was among those calling for her to go, saying ‘hard-working Met officers… deserve far better’.
He told MailOnline: ‘They need new leadership that will change the culture and rebuild the public trust and confidence that officers need to do their jobs and keep us all safe.’
However, it is understood both Home Secretary Priti Patel and Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, support the extension.
One source told MailOnline there was ‘no alternative’ – suggesting that Dame Cressida wanted a longer term.
Senior figures want to ‘use that time to make sure other candidates are ready’.
Meanwhile, a senior Tory MP said Scotland Yard desperately needed a new leader for Britain’s biggest force after a series of scandals but the alternatives to Dame Cressida, 60, were far too ‘woke’.
Dame Cressida suffered a fresh blow today after a landmark panel of victims of police corruption, incompetence and malpractice issued a bombshell letter to Boris Johnson calling for her head.
Led by Stephen Lawrence’s trailblazing mother, Baroness Lawrence, and Lady Brittan, widow of Tory home secretary Leon Brittan, the signatories all give Dame Cressida a resounding vote of no confidence.
In the letter, revealed by the Daily Mail, they also demand an overhaul of the Met’s senior team, ‘urgent and long overdue’ reform of the police complaints system and a shake-up of the ‘unfit for purpose’ Independent Office for Police Conduct.
If she is not ousted, Dame Cressida may also still down the £230,000-a-year role, paving the way for another senior officer to take her place.
Likely replacements range from a counter-terror chief who threatened to jail journalists and blamed terrorism on a lack of social mobility to a Merseyside cop who said violent criminals were ‘not inherently bad people’.
The senior MP who fears the current crop of senior police may be ‘too woke’ told MailOnline: ‘The problem with Cressida is she has presided over a series of disasters, and then says it is not her fault.
‘It is difficult when we always take the same view that operational decisions are a matter for the police not politicians.
‘She has presided over some humdingers, not just as commissioner but in her career. The time is right to get a new commissioner. But we don’t want to replace her with ”commander woke”.’
Below, MailOnline scrutinises some of the likely candidates for the top job in UK policing.
Neil Basu: Former anti-terror chief who called for journalists to be prosecuted after publishing leaked cables criticising Trump
Neil Basu, who has been at the Met for nearly 30 years
Until recently the Met’s head of counter-terrorism, Mr Basu is now assistant commissioner for specialist operations, which includes responsibilities around national security.
The 53-year-old, who has been at the Met for nearly 30 years, is the most senior serving British officer of Asian heritage, and was tipped for the top job in 2017 before losing out to Dame Cressida.
In February this year, he called for laws in the Equality Act 2010 that restrict positive discriminations to be relaxed in order to boost the number of BAME recruits.
He was immediately shot down by policing minister Kit Malthouse, while Home Secretary Priti Patel was also said to be against the idea.
Mr Basu faced fresh accusations of meddling in politics in July 2019, when he threatened to prosecute journalists for publishing leaked cables from Britain’s ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch.
Former Tory cabinet minister David Davis said the intervention ‘strayed well beyond his brief’, and represented an attack on the free Press.
Mr Basu’s comments came after Scotland Yard launched a probe to find who leaked Sir Kim’s memos calling the Trump administration ‘clumsy and inept’.
The revelation called an international sensation and soured the Special Relationship.
Mr Basu, who has spent his whole career at the Met, made another controversial intervention in August that year when suggested homegrown terrorism was fuelled by a lack of social mobility and inclusion.
He said better education and opportunities for young people would do more to fight terrorism than ‘the policing and state security apparatus put together’ – adding that he was not trying to excuse any acts of violence.
He also said British Muslims should not be forced to ‘assimilate’, adding: ‘Assimilation implies that I have to hide myself in order to get on. We should not be a society that accepts that.’
A 2019 profile of Basu in the Mail On Sunday described him as well-liked within the force and by intelligence officials at MI5.
But he has attracted criticism for some of his operational decisions, most notably as head of Operations Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta.
The three inquiries into phone hacking, computer hacking and alleged payments to police officers by newspapers cost around £19.5 million and were criticised for criminalising journalists.
Critics at the time said the Met could have spent the money going after terrorists, murderers and drug dealers.
Mr Basu also raised eyebrows when he criticised the Prevent programme – which tries to detect and deradicalise Muslim extremists – as ‘toxic’.
‘Government will not thank me for saying this, but an independent reviewer of Prevent… would be a healthy thing,’ he said.
A Hindu, born to an Indian doctor father and a white British mother, he has said he has encountered racism over most of his life.
He grew up in Stafford, where he studied at Walton High School before reading economics at Nottingham University.
He became a Met police officer in 1992, serving first as a beat bobby in Battersea, South London, then swiftly moving through the ranks as a borough commander in Barnet, North London, and a Commander of South London in 2012.
His first major high-profile Met post came in 2014, when he was appointed Commander – Organised Crime and Gangs.
Three years later, as a Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Mr Basu was tested as Britain was hit by an unprecedented five terrorist attacks in one year, including the Manchester bombing that killed 22 people and the Westminster attack, which killed four, including a police officer.
The most-high profile counter-terrorism investigation overseen by Mr Basu in his current role was the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury last year, which the Met says was directed by the Kremlin.
A father with three sons, Mr Basu is married to Dr Nina Cope, a senior official at the National Crime Agency, often described as Britain’s FBI.
Andy Cooke: Former Merseyside chief who insists even violent criminals are ‘not inherently bad people’
Andy Cooke, who now serves with the police inspectorate
While head of Merseyside Police, Andy Cooke sparked anger when he said even violent criminals are ‘not inherently bad people’ and he’d rather pump billions into cutting poverty than upholding the law.
The officer, marking his retirement as Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, said if he was given a £5 billion budget to cut crime, he would spend £1 billion on crime and £4 billion on tackling poverty.
He now serves in the role of Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Inspector of Fire and Rescue Authorities in England. He will be overseeing inspections primarily in the North of England.
Mr Cooke was chief constable for five years, during which time he has overseen the jailing of dozens of multi-millionaire drug laws, including Liverpool’s most notorious drugs boss Liam ‘the Lam’ Cornett, who was transported to court in a huge armed convoy every day, and the jet-setting Mulhare brothers, who were caught abroad in Thailand after being informed on by a ‘supergrass’.
Murderers jailed during his tenure include George Leather, 60, who brutally killed his Asda worker wife, 56, by stabbing her 300 times in an ‘episode of unspeakable and barbaric savagery’, and Robert Child, 37, who was jailed for life for striking his 64-year-old mother Janice with a hammer 31 times.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said of Mr Cooke’s plans for the police budget: ‘In that case would he be quite happy to sack 80% of the officers. Reducing poverty is not a function of the policing budget, it’s the job of other agencies and government.
‘I’m not convinced that this change would be welcomed by the vast majority of the UK population. They want to see the police protecting citizens and property and crime. He sounds like someone who would have taken the knee for BLM and defunded the police.’
Under Mr Cooke, Merseyside Police gained a reputation for tough policing and for being a keen user of stop-and-search powers. He was also the first commander of Merseyside’s Matrix unit, set up to tackle gang crime and violence.
The number of crimes reported during his time in charge has dipped slightly from 167,151 in 2016/17 to 166,837 last year.
In 2020, a National Crime Agency report revealed that organised crime gangs from Liverpool are dominating the firearms and drugs trade outside of London.
The NCA analysis of encrypted messages from a communications system used by criminals revealed that the city is the top location for powerful gangs sourcing high-volume importations of drugs and automatic weapons.
He told the Guardian: ‘The best crime prevention is increased opportunity and reduced poverty. That’s the best way to reduce crime. So there needs to be substantial funding into the infrastructure of our inner cities and our more deprived areas.’
It was not the first time Mr Cooke had hit the headlines after making several outspoken comments during the coronavirus pandemic.
He previously condemned the ‘sneering culture’ against people who tip off police about coronavirus rule-breakers and called on Britons to report restriction-flouting neighbours.
Mr Cooke said: ‘People are doing a civic duty in contacting us for the right reasons.
‘The vast majority of people across the country are really concerned about this. Any information that you can give us in relation to breaches will save lives, and that’s why people are doing it.’
He also warned his own officers that they could face misconduct charges if they post TikTok and Instagram videos of themselves dancing.
Sir Ed Davey is a vocal critic of Dame Cressida due to a series of controversies including the Met’s handling of the Sarah Everard Vigil. Pictured right: Priti Patel
He said: ‘We have reminded all officers and staff that such behaviour is wholly unprofessional and will not tolerated by the force.
‘As a force, Merseyside Police holds clear policies about standards of behaviour, including the inappropriate use of social media, and anything which breaches these standards would be subject to potential disciplinary proceedings.
‘This is a challenging time for policing. Above all else, we are here to support the NHS and keep policing our communities, many of whom would be rightly appalled to see police officers failing to show respect for the uniform they wear.
‘We simply don’t want anything to detract from the outstanding work our officers and staff are putting in at the moment.’
Throughout his long career, Mr Cooke has served as a detective at every rank. In 2008, he was appointed Assistant Chief Constable of Lancashire Constabulary. He returned to Merseyside in 2012 and in 2016 he was appointed Chief Constable.
The officer has been commended on 10 occasions and in 2014 was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal.
He is married with twin daughters, according to an online profile. He has a passion for football and rugby league and is chair of the British Police Rugby League Association.
Simon Byrne: Top Northern Ireland cop ‘with a reputation for being like Darth Vader’
Simon Byrne became chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in May 2019
Simon Byrne became chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in May 2019, arriving at the force with 36 years of policing behind him.
After holding senior roles at GMP and the Met, he became chief constable of Cheshire Police from 2014 to 2017. That role ended in controversial circumstances after he was accused of bullying and humiliating staff.
A misconduct hearing was told he had a reputation for being like Darth Vader and treated junior officers and staff like ‘roadkill’.
The hearing was told he handed pictures of Dad’s Army characters to officers after he became angry when flooding made him late for work.
However, he was cleared of misconduct, with the tribunal concluding that much of what was claimed was either exaggerated or most likely didn’t happen.
During his time as chief constable, Mr Byrne revealed he had considered breaking the law in order to hire more officers from ethnic minorities. At that time the force only had three black officers.
He told the BBC in 2017 that the law should be changed in England ‘for a certain period of time’ to allow the hiring of minority candidates to speed up. This would ensure that ‘for every white officer, we recruit one black officer.’
Mr Byrne said: ‘I’ve even taken legal advice about breaking the law, which might sound crazy as a senior police officer.
‘But if we’re put under pressure to change, then what are the consequences, other than reputational, from breaking the law?’
Under current equality rules employers cannot employ a job applicant because of characteristics like race, sexual orientation or gender, if other candidates are better qualified.
At PSNI he attracted controversy for suggesting the children of paramilitaries could be taken into care.
He was also forced to apologise after tweeting a photo of himself with officers holding rifles outside a PSNI station on Christmas Day, the BBC reported.
Martin Hewitt: NPCC chief who backed crackdown on Covid sceptics and said officers felt ‘undervalued’ amid anger over pay
Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council
As chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) throughout the Covid crisis, Martin Hewitt has made a number of high-profile interventions in politics.
Amid fury last month at officers being hit by a pay freeze, Mr Hewitt told Priti Patel that many officers believed the decision was ‘unfair’ and they felt ‘undervalued’ after their efforts during Covid.
Mr Hewitt said: ‘For many it feels unfair and that their contribution is undervalued.
‘And, unlike other parts of the public service, officers do not have the option of industrial action to make their case more strongly.
‘As the Government makes spending decisions over coming months, we urge you to fund a settlement which properly reflects the important and complex work police officers do, and starts to address the pay shortfall.’
In January, he backed a crackdown on lockdown sceptics and said officers would no longer ‘waste time’ trying to reason with them amid soaring death rates.
Speaking at a Downing Street press briefing, he gave examples of shocking ‘irresponsible behaviour’ from people not heeding warnings – even with more than 1,200 people dying every day.
They included a £30-per-head boat party in Hertfordshire with more than 40 people, a Surrey house party whose host tried to claim it was a business event and a minibus full of people from different households caught travelling from Cheltenham into Wales for a walk.
Mr Hewitt was appointed in April 2019. He began his policing career with Kent Police in 1993 and transferred to the Metropolitan Police Service in 2005.
As an Assistant Commissioner for five years, he led frontline and local policing, specialist crime and professional standards.
He led the national police response to adult sexual offences and kidnap between 2014 and 2019, and served as a Vice-Chair for the NPCC from 2015 before taking on the chairmanship.
Matt Jukes: Assistant commissioner credited with leading crackdown on Rotherham child grooming gangs
Matt Jukes joined South Yorkshire police in 1995 three years after graduating with a degree in mathematics from Oxford.
He worked as a detective and rose through the ranks to represent UK police forces at G8 meetings and lead on national anti-terror strategy.
Mr Jukes is best known for tackling Rotherham grooming gangs while borough commander in the Yorkshire town from 2006 to 2010.
More than 1,000 children were exploited in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, with local authorities, schools and police among agencies that failed to tackle the problem.
A report on the scandal by Professor Alexis Jay suggested that Mr Jukes’ leadership marked a point where police became more proactive in dealing with the abuse.
After serving in South Yorkshire Police, he moved to South Wales, with the police and crime commissioner there Alun Michael backing him as an outstanding leader.
Mr Jukes worked his way up to the top post in South Wales Police, becoming Chief Constable in January 2018.
He is also chairman of Police Sport UK.
Mr Jukes moved to the Met in November 2020. He was awarded a Queens Police Medal in the New Year Honours List 2018.
Source: Read Full Article