By Sanjukta Nathan
Cressida Dick becomes the first woman to be appointed as the Commissioner in the history of the Metropolitan Police.
Ms. Dick beat Sarah Thornton, (chair of the National Police Chief’s Council), Metropolitan Assistant Commissioner, Mark Rowley and Steven Kavanagh, chief constable of Essex police and an ex-Metropolitan veteran to lead one of the most important security positions of London. Her appointment was finalised by the Home secretary, Amber Rudd and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan after several rounds of interview.
According to the Mayor of London, the appointment was not based on her gender but because she stood out among the shortlisted candidates and due to her outstanding role in the Met department so far, Ms. Dick was previously holding the position of Assistant Commissioner of Metropolitan Police until 2014.
Her appointment becomes very crucial for the department after the retirement of Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, a distinguished figure in the security force and in the wake of the present security situation of the city.
Ms. Dick’s appointment has been whole-heartedly accepted by the people of London. Prominent figures like Harriet Harman, Caroline Pidgeon, Lilian Greenwood and James Barry have taken to social media to express their delight over this decision.
However, there might be few sceptics who may question the appointment due to the Cressida Dick’s somewhat controversial history. She was suspended from the anti -terrorism unit by Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe for the shooting of suspected terrorist and a Brazilian origin Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005 at Stockwell tube station. Ms. Dick was at that point of time heading the operation to track down suspects of 7/7 London bombings. It was later declared by the Met department as a serious mistake and that the Brazilian electrician was not connected with any terror crimes.
Therefore, it does not come as a surprise the appointment of Cressida Dick as Commissioner has been opposed by the members of Jean Charles de Menezes’ family, as well as several others.
In my opinion, the appointment is an important landmark in the history of the British police force owing to the gender inequality that has always shrouded the profession. There has always reportedly been a scarcity of female police officers across the city, as in 1977 the number of female officers comprised of 7% of the police population which has risen to 29% today. Therefore, the presence of a female leader for the policing industry is vital to the encouragement of women embracing this profession.
Research has shown in the past that the professional records of female police officers have always been cleaner compared to their male counterparts in terms of regularity of work, better reporting and recording of incidents. They also have less incidents of ramming police vehicles in chases and get into fewer brawls with people on a regular basis. In other words, female police officers seem to be more judicious professionals.
There is a further point to make in terms of this appointment. Ms. Dick was acquitted by the jury in the controversial Jean Charles de Menezes’ case based on human error and therefore the policing industry has a leader who has already gone through the trial and error of making decisions that has helped her learn from the past. In other words, a leader who would be experienced in both success and failure.
Nevertheless, one spot in the shining career of a successful and skilled individual should not be held against their merit. Every individual should always be given a chance to eliminate the unintentional mistakes in their past.