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Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick admits there is ‘unwitting sexism’ in the force

Written by on 20 October 2021

The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has admitted there is “unwitting sexism” within the force.

Dame Cressida Dick was giving evidence to the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee on the safety of women and girls in the capital, following the deaths of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.

During the evidence session, she said there can be “unwitting sexism” in the force, that “people just don’t really think is inappropriate”, adding the Met needs to “improve and get better”.

Sabina Nessa's body was identified on Monday. Pic: Met Police Image: Sabina Nessa was on her way to meet a friend when she was killed. Pic: Met Police

She said “there is no place in the Met for people who display racist, sexist, homophobic behaviour”, and said violence against women and girls is “something everybody has to get involved in tackling”.

The commissioner accepted that the police force can appear defensive, but said it wants to be the “most open police service in the 21st century”.

She gave an “absolute assurance” that the Met will cooperate fully with the independent inquiry into the culture and standards of the force.

The commissioner was also asked about the widely criticised advice, following the sentencing of Wayne Couzens for the murder of Sarah Everard, for women to flag down a bus or call 999 if concerned by a lone officer.

33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard was murdered by former police officer Wayne Couzens Image: 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard was murdered by former police officer Wayne Couzens

She said that advice was “not intended” and “not how we see things”, adding the question would be addressed differently in the future.

Reiterating that it is “extremely unusual” for a plain-clothed officer to approach a woman alone, she said officers “will go to every length they can to reassure people”.

Commissioner Dick said the force has “a hill to climb” to restore trust with “women of colour and black women in particular” and it is on a “journey” to make sure they give a “top-quality response‚Ķ to all our communities”.

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When asked about the dramatic rise in stalking cases, she said the Met has “led the way nationally” on stalking, and the rising figures are partly down to more reporting and better responses from officers.

However, she added there may also have been an increase in cases.

At the London Assembly, Dame Dick also spoke about the recent killing of Southend West MP, Sir David Amess, calling it “the most dreadful thing”.

File photo dated 17/09/03 of David Amess, MP for Southend West in Essex, outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London. Conservative MP Sir David Amess has reportedly been stabbed several times at a surgery in his Southend West constituency. Issue date: Friday October 15, 2021. Image: Sir David Amess was stabbed to death at his constituency surgery

She added the force takes the security of MPs “extremely seriously” and said officers have spoken to all London MPs in the last few days to discuss their security arrangements.

The force is also speaking to the Home Office to make sure there is a “joined-up approach” to MP security.

The commissioner said: “We are also making sure we have good community engagement, are monitoring any tensions and monitoring any rise in hate crime.”