A piece in today’s Times:
The Metropolitan Police commissioner considered creating an all-female response team but abandoned the idea after consulting rank and file officers, it emerged yesterday.
Dame Cressida Dick said that she considered the approach before the Clapham Common vigil but concluded it was impractical as well as being “hugely divisive”.
The force came under sustained criticism after male officers were photographed arresting female protesters at the event, held in the memory of Sarah Everard, 33, who was allegedly murdered by a Met officer. The Met’s actions were later exonerated in an independent report.
Asked by MPs yesterday about the number of male officers at the event, Dick said she understood the images “looked very powerful to people”.
She added: “Public order policing … can be quite messy, we are hands on when we arrest people.”
She told the home affairs select committee that she had considered sending only female officers to the event but dismissed the plan.
“One, [it was] not practical for us to do that at short notice. [J4MB: Hmm, why might that be, Ms Dick? Presumably because so few police officers in the evening are women?] And secondly, [it was] hugely divisive among my people,” she said.
“It was considered, but it was not practical and we didn’t do it. It would be wrong to say that there was an unusual number of men there, far from it.”
Dick also denied that the Met had lost its moral compass over the handling of Operation Midland, its disastrous inquiry into false claims of a VIP paedophile ring.
Lord Brittan of Spennithorne, the former home secretary, and Lord Bramall, the former chief of the defence staff, had their homes raided after they were falsely accused by the convicted paedophile Carl Beech. Beech was jailed for 18 years in 2019 for perverting the course of justice.
Sir Richard Henriques, a judge who carried out an independent review into Operation Midland, identified 43 failings and has said that the search warrants were obtained unlawfully.
Dick accepted the way detectives handled the inquiry had harmed confidence in the Met. However, she said: “I do not believe we have lost our moral compass, I don’t believe that anything has been covered up.”
She added that she regretted the impact the inquiry had had on the lives of the falsely accused.
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