he Mayor of London Sadiq Khan will oppose any new Met Police chief unless they have a plan to deal with ‘cultural issues’ that have rocked the scandal hit force.
Writing in The Observer, Mr Khan said he was “deeply concerned” that public trust and confidence in the country’s biggest police force “has been shattered so badly”, which he concluded could only be rebuilt with new leadership at the top of the Met.
It came after Dame Cressida Dick dramatically announced she was standing down as Metropolitan Police Commissioner after Mr Khan made clear he had no confidence in her plans to reform the service.
It has become crystal-clear that there are deep cultural issues within the Met
Mr Khan wrote that he will “work closely” with Priti Patel on the selection of Dame Cressida’s successor.
While the Conservative Home Secretary holds the power over the appointment, she must take the Labour Mayor’s preference into account.
Mr Khan wrote: “I will not support the appointment of a new commissioner unless they can clearly demonstrate that they understand the scale of the cultural problems within the Met and the urgency with which they must be addressed.
“In short, they need to get it, and they need to have a proper and robust plan to deal with it.”
The comments could foment tensions that arose between the Mayor and Ms Patel over the manner of Dame Cressida’s departure, just months after the Home Secretary agreed a two-year extension to her contract.
Home Office sources said Ms Patel was angered by Mr Khan’s failure to inform her that he had called Dame Cressida to a meeting on Thursday afternoon, which she considered “rude and unprofessional”.
Dame Cressida, however, chose not to attend after reportedly being informed that Mr Khan had no confidence in her plans for reform.
Her departure follows a barrage of criticism of the force including over its handling of the case of Sarah Everard who was murdered by a serving Met officer.
The force has also been criticised for being slow to investigate reports of parties in Downing Street and Whitehall in breach of Covid restrictions.
The final straw, however, was a report by the police watchdog which exposed violently racist, misogynist and homophobic messages exchanged by officers based at Charing Cross police station.
In his op-ed piece, Mr Khan said the revelations reminded him of “the bad old days of the Met” from his childhood.
He said that when he was growing up on a south London council estate in the 1970s and 80s, it was common to hear “stories of racist, misogynistic and abusive conduct by police officers”.
“One of the things I remember being told as a teenager by my dad was: ‘Don’t make eye contact with the police, don’t give them an excuse’,” Mr Khan wrote, adding that he had “seen and felt the damage that this kind of breakdown in trust can cause”.
He also said: “It has become crystal-clear that there are deep cultural issues within the Met.
“It’s my job as mayor to hold the police to account on behalf of Londoners, so it was my duty to act decisively as soon as I concluded that the only way we were going to start seeing the level of change urgently required was with new leadership right at the top of the Met”.
The process of finding Dame Cressida’s replacement comes as the Met is investigating gatherings, some of which the Prime Minister attended, in Downing Street when Covid-19 rules were in force.
It came as Boris Johnson was urged to “recuse” himself from involvement in picking the next Met chief while under investigation for alleged Covid rule breaches, a former force leader has said.
Ian Blair, a former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said choosing who will be Dame Cressida Dick’s successor is “an enormously important choice”.
Downing Street confirmed on Friday night that Mr Johnson had received a legal questionnaire from Met officers investigating events in No 10.
He now has seven days to adequately explain his attendance or face a fine for breaking his own Covid regulations.