1st woman to head Scotland Yard in 188 years

Ms Dick, who spent 31 years in Scotland Yard, was a one-time beat cop in London's West End.
Ms Dick, who spent 31 years in Scotland Yard, was a one-time beat cop in London's West End.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • When Cressida Dick left Scotland Yard three years ago, she said she hoped that, one day, a woman would lead Britain's biggest police force to show that it was "modern and representative".

On Wednesday, those hopes were realised when Ms Dick herself was named the first female police commissioner in Scotland Yard's 188-year history.

A one-time beat cop in London's West End, the 56-year-old said she was "thrilled and humbled" by the appointment. "I'm looking forward immensely to protecting and serving the people of London," she said on Wednesday.

Founded in 1829, Scotland Yard, as the city's Metropolitan Police Service is known, is the recipient of roughly a quarter of all police spending in England and Wales.

Scotland and Northern Ireland, the other two nations in the United Kingdom, have their own legal systems and police forces.

An Oxford and Cambridge graduate, Ms Dick was head of counter-terrorism at Scotland Yard from 2011 to 2014, overseeing security for the London Olympics in 2012.

She left Scotland Yard in 2014 after 31 years to become general secretary at the Foreign Office.

Ms Amber Rudd, the home secretary who appointed Ms Dick with London mayor Sadiq Khan's counsel, called her an "exceptional leader" and also implicitly highlighted her gender as a possible asset in some pressing issues facing Scotland Yard.

Of the 43 police forces in England and Wales, several have been led by women. But never London.

House of Lords member Alex Carlile, who served as an independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said it was "a very positive thing" that Scotland Yard had women in leadership roles. "But Cressida Dick has not been appointed because she's a woman," he added. "She's been appointed because she was the pre-eminent person for the job."

With her appointment, three of the most senior figures in British policing are now women, with Ms Lynne Owens heading the National Crime Agency and Ms Sara Thornton the chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline '1st woman to head Scotland Yard in 188 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe