A statement by Commissioner Cressida Dick on working with all of London’s communities to build further trust and confidence in police
I am incredibly proud of the work police officers and staff in London undertake every day and the challenges we have experienced in 2020 have been unprecedented.
Over the last eight months colleagues have achieved fantastic results tackling violence on our streets, dismantling serious and organised crime networks, dealing with some very challenging protests and supporting our communities through the Covid-19 pandemic. The Met has been very flexible, very resilient and a constant reassuring presence for the public, despite the risks.
And of course this week has been no different, with officers putting themselves in harm’s way tackling a man with a machete in Southwark, arresting multiple gang members and those running county lines, seizing guns, knives drugs and cash from violent criminals, protecting Remembrance events and dealing with unlawful demonstrations, and of course the dreadful incident when a car was driven into Edmonton Police Station. Last night we were called to the tragic murder of a 17-year-old boy.
My officers and staff all joined the Met to make a difference, to protect and assist our public and to be a part of keeping this fantastic, global capital city safe. But of course it is not easy, and policing London comes with significant challenges and complexities that we contend with each and every day.
I believe the Met is the finest large city police service in the world. It is more professional than it has ever been. But we always want to be even stronger.
I want the Met to be the most trusted police service in the world. We have made a lot of progress over many years, but there is much more to be done. I have been committed to this work throughout my service as a police officer and that commitment is as strong as ever.
I recognise trust in the Met is still too low in some black communities, as is their trust in many other institutions. I feel very sorry about that. It is something I have worked to change and I commit now to stepping up that work further. Lower levels of trust create challenges to keeping Londoners safe – be it a reluctance to share information, to report crime, or to support our work to tackle violence. Sadly this leads to more black victims of crime.
My top two operational priorities are reducing violence and increasing public confidence in the Met, particularly the confidence of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. Actions are more important than words and, as I have said before, we can do more and we will.
George Floyd’s death was utterly awful. We all recognised the strength of feeling over the summer here in London and elsewhere. I fervently believe that UK policing is entirely different from policing in the US, but I do understand that what happened has reignited questions on policing and black communities, both now, and in the past. I recognise and regret the pain and anguish felt by many in our black communities. Some people have a strong sense of injustice and unfairness – for some that is historic and for some that is today. Let me assure you, we in the Met are listening and want to work with our black communities to accelerate change.
Our job is to protect all of London’s communities – and to do so with professionalism and empathy. Levels of violence and crime generally are too high. I have met too many grieving parents, grieving mothers, of murder victims to not know the devastating impact of people carrying knives and guns. Sadly the most serious violent crime on our streets, knife and gun enabled, affects our black communities more than others.
As police, we have exceptional powers vested in us, in order to prevent crime and disorder, keep the public safe and to bring people to justice. Sometimes we have to use those powers swiftly and firmly. When we use those powers we must do so carefully, without bias and with compassion. That is why we are redoubling our efforts to explain why we do what we do, to make improvements where necessary and to build confidence. Along with a great many other people and institutions in London, we have a duty to do all we can to ensure London remains a safe and free global city.
The Met is not free of discrimination, racism or bias. I have always acknowledged that and do now again. In the Met we have zero tolerance of racism. My job is to continue to try to eliminate any such racism and discrimination, however it appears.
I also firmly believe the Met has come a very long way, in our understanding of our communities and how we involve them in our work, in our improved community relations, and how we recruit, celebrate and engage a more diverse workforce. We have transformed our training and education on diversity and inclusion, and how we listen to our black colleagues and communities.
Today we have over 8,000 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues, including 5,000 police officers, half of England and Wales’s total “BAME” officers, in the Met. Those numbers will increase further over the next few years as we recruit in large numbers from London. The Met is a place where black Londoners can and do thrive.
I am committed to redoubling our efforts to deliver a better service for, and with, black Londoners, to doing all we can to help them be safe, to thrive and to increase their trust in us. I am sure that will be good for all Londoners and it will help us achieve our mission of making the Met the most trusted police service in the world. We have a lot more to do, and I am excited about leading further change.