London, United Kingdom | AFP |
A woman will become Britain’s most senior police officer for the first time, the government announced on Wednesday, a controversial move due to her involvement in a fatal London shooting.
Cressida Dick, 56, will succeed Bernard Hogan-Howe as commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, returning to the force after leaving two years ago for the foreign ministry.
Prime Minister Theresa May said Dick had “the exceptional qualities necessary to meet the challenges of leading the Metropolitan Police Service”, while London Mayor Sadiq Khan called it a “historic day for London and a proud day for me as mayor”.
Dick’s appointment is likely to stir controversy because of her involvement in the fatal 2005 shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian who was wrongly identified as a potential suicide bomber the day after four attempted bomb attacks in London.
Dick led the operation but was cleared of blame by a jury.
The family of De Menezes said they had “serious concerns” about the appointment.
“We had to face a tragedy that no family should ever have to experience; the tragic death of a loved one at the hands of those we entrusted to serve us and protect us,” they said in a statement.
Interior minister Amber Rudd said Dick was “an exceptional leader, and has a clear vision for the future of the Metropolitan Police”.
“She now takes on one of the most demanding, high-profile and important jobs in UK policing, against the backdrop of a heightened terror alert and evolving threats from fraud and cyber crime,” Rudd added.
The Metropolitan Police Service is responsible for law enforcement in Greater London but also has major national responsibilities, such as counter-terrorism and protecting the royal family.