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A high-profile anti-sleaze adviser is to be drafted in to the Met to help root out “predatory” rogue officers and overhaul the force’s culture, Cressida Dick has announced as she vowed to do “all I can” to improve women’s safety.
The Met Commissioner said the new recruit would be a prominent “external figure” who will work alongside her to challenge her and senior officers over the way they deal with “standards, corruption, sexual misconduct” and cases of “officers who have let the public down”.
She said a key aim was to “root out those who display predatory behaviour towards women or express inappropriate views among our ranks”, but that the task would also include carrying out a far wider review of “internal culture” and professional standards within the Met.
Monday’s announcement came as the Met continued to reel from the sentencing last week of former officer Wayne Couzens for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, and a series of further damning disclosures about missed opportunities and alleged misconduct by other officers.
In a further blow, another Met officer, Pc David Carrick, 46, who is part of the same Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command that Couzens served in, was appearing in court in St Albans on Monday, charged with raping a woman while off-duty in Hertfordshire.
In an article for The Standard, Dame Cressida said she was “deeply concerned” about the rape charge and that she understood the “grave public concern” over the “horrific crimes of Wayne Couzens” and the deaths of other women.
But she said that although she recognised her force was “far from perfect”, she was determined to restore faith in the Met and do “more to ensure women and girls are safe and feel safe in public and private spaces”.
This included improving the “response to child abuse, domestic violence, rape and other sexual offences — including indecent exposure” and deploying an extra 650 officers to increase patrols of transport hubs, open spaces, town centres and other locations of potentially vulnerability.
“I will do all I can to improve women’s safety and reduce the fear of violence,” the Commissioner said. “The murder of Sarah Everard does not stand alone. Other women including Nicole Smallman, Bibaa Henry and most recently Sabina Nessa have been killed in our city. I would like to say the murder of a woman in London is rare. Sadly, I cannot.”
Dame Cressida said that a new “action plan for tackling violence against women and girls” would be unveiled, aiming to improve the targeting of offenders and the numbers brought to justice.
Dame Cressida said the blueprint would also help the Met “root out those who display predatory behaviour towards women or express inappropriate views among our ranks” but that she was also ready to take outside advice on how to improve her force’s culture.
“A high-profile figure will be appointed to lead a review of our professional standards and internal culture,” she said. “They will look at our training, leadership, processes, systems and standards of behaviour, and examine cases where officers have let the public down to see how they could have been prevented.”
The decision to bring in an outsider will be seen by critics as recognition of claims that the force has been too tolerant of inappropriate attitudes and conduct within its ranks and too defensive in responding to failings.
Dame Cressida, who has defied renewed calls for her to quit in the wake the sentencing of Couzens to a full life term for Ms Everard’s murder on March 3, insisted, however, that the vast majority of Met officers remained determined to do their best for the public and felt similarly dismayed by the case.
Meanwhile, as the debate about women’s safety continued, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said men needed to acknowledge that misogyny is a problem. “It probably starts with everyone, especially men, acknowledging what a problem this is and making sure we recognise that anxiety,” he said.