Cressida Dick offered two-year extension as Met police chief

Extension said to have been granted because those most likely to replace her are not yet seen as suitable

The government has offered the Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, a two-year extension to her term in office.

The decision was made by the home secretary, Priti Patel, in consultation with the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, and Downing Street.

Those with knowledge of the process say Dick was granted an extension because those most likely to replace her were not yet seen as being suitable for the job.

Dick became commissioner in April 2017 and was the first woman to lead Britain’s biggest police force since it was established in 1829. She had a five-year contract that was due to expire in April 2022.

The decision followed talks between Dick and Patel late last month and it is understood all parties have agreed terms. The extension has to be formally approved by Buckingham Palace as the commissioner of the Met is an appointment by royal warrant.

The extension to Dick’s time as commissioner will be formally announced next week. The only thing that could stop it is a cabinet reshuffle in which Patel was replaced as home secretary and her replacement ripped up the deal. This is thought to be unlikely.

Dick’s tenure has been controversial. She angered some with an expansion of stop and search, with community confidence in the Met dropping and the force’s chequered history on race under the microscope.

Others believe she has escaped having to properly account for her role in Operation Midland, the disastrous Met investigation into a nonexistent VIP paedophile ring in which prominent individuals were falsely suspected.

Detectives fell for the lies of a fantasist who was later jailed. Dick was also personally criticised by the official report into the Daniel Morgan murder, which accused her of obstructing its work, a finding she denies. She oversaw the fallout after a serving Met officer kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard in south London this year.

Dick is seen as having struggled to get a grip on violent crime, which she came into office saying was her top priority.

Only John Stevens and Bernard Hogan-Howe have completed their full five-year term as Met commissioner in the 21st century. The commissioners Ian Blair and Sir Paul Stephenson both resigned midterm amid controversy.

The commissioner of the Met is appointed by the home secretary, who has to have due regard for the views of the mayor of London, Labour’s Khan.

The extension for Dick appears to be, at best, a lukewarm vote of confidence. However, given the fact two of her last three predecessors were ousted from office midterm, it is still an achievement.

While publicly the Home Office, Downing Street and London mayor have voiced their confidence in Dick, all three institutions contain key figures who have doubts about the Met.

“Some in government view it as a basket case,” said one source, with its problems being seen as endemic and the force lurching from crisis to crisis. Others are concerned by what they claim is Met “arrogance”.

The Met sees itself facing challenges and scrutiny like no other force, and some senior policing figures believe it is no longer a shining example of the best of British policing.

Dick rejoined the Met to become commissioner in 2017, having left the force for a senior job at the Foreign Office. Her exit followed her falling out with then commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, who ousted her from a role she loved as head of counter-terrorism. Hogan-Howe earned a single year’s extension to his commissionership, half that granted to Dick.

Possible future commissioners include Martin Hewitt, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, and the assistant commissioner Neil Basu, until recently head of counter-terrorism, who would be the first minority ethnic commissioner. Andy Cooke, a former chief of Merseyside police now with the policing inspectorate, is another possible candidate, as is Matt Jukes, an assistant commissioner in the Met after serving as chief of South Wales police. Simon Byrne, the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, could also be a contender.


Vikram Dodd Police and crime correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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