The controversies of the Metropolitan Police under Dame Cressida Dick's leadership

Protests following the murder of Sarah Everard. Credit: PA

Dame Cressida Dick faced a growing storm of criticism in the years leading up to her stepping down from the top Metropolitan Police Commissioner job.A series of scandals began to snowball under her leadership in the top role in recent months.

The police boss announced she was stepping down on Thursday night, despite insisting earlier in the day she would not be going.

In a statement, she admitted she had "no choice" but to leave as London Mayor Sadiq Khan "no longer has sufficient confidence in my leadership to continue".

Hours earlier Dame Cressida had said: "I have absolutely no intention of going and I believe that I am and have been, actually for the last five years, leading a real transformation in the Met."

ITV News London revisits some of the controversies surrounding Dame Cressida's leadership of the Met.

Handling of Downing Street parties investigation

Dame Cressida faced criticism over the Met's apparent hesitation about opening an investigation into the 'Partygate' scandal.

Boris Johnson and his government have faced lockdown-breaking allegations over a series of gatherings alleged to have been held at Downing Street.

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds outside No.10 Downing Street. Credit: PA

Among them, ITV News exclusively revealed footage of communications staff joking in rehearsals for questions about a 'cheese and wine' event at Downing Street.

Subsequent reports laid bare allegations of more parties on Number 10's premises, including gatherings alleged to have taken place in the Downing Street flat.

It was also alleged Carrie Johnson had helped organise a birthday bash for the PM, ITV News exclusively revealed.

Dame Cressida's force initially hesitated to investigate.

Days before Sue Gray's report into a series of alleged events held during Covid restrictions at Downing Street, the Met intervened and asked the civil servant to withhold details from her report.

The Met is now investigating a series of alleged events across eight dates.

"Disgraceful" bullying, racism, and misogyny within the Metropolitan Police

In one of the most recent scandals, violently racist, misogynist and homophobic messages exchanged by officers based at Charing Cross police station were published by a watchdog.

Details of messages from serving officers' WhatsApp and Facebook groups shed light on multiple references to rape, violence against women, racist and homophobic abuse.

The texts were publicly unveiled by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) last week, and were described by Home Secretary Priti Patel as "sickening".

Officers used what they called "banter" as a cover for bullying, the IOPC found.

Charing Cross Police Station in central London

The watchdog called for an overhaul of the Met after nine linked investigations found evidence of bullying, discrimination, racism, misogyny, harassment and the exchange of offensive social media messages by officers.

It made 15 recommendations, including tackling "underlying cultural issues" in the force.

The offensive messages included references to African children, Somali people and Auschwitz, the IPOC report found.

WhatsApp and Facebook group messages included multiple references to sexual violence including, "I would happily rape you".

One officer bragged that he had hit his girlfriend, and told a colleague: "It makes them love you more".

People gathered on Clapham Common on March 13 last year Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

The murder of Sarah Everard

The 33-year-old woman's death at the hands of a serving Met Police officer shocked the nation.

Wayne Couzens used his knowledge of the UK's lockdown policing powers to falsely arrest Ms Everard and lure her into his vehicle in south London.

He kidnapped, raped and murdered the young marketing executive.

Sarah Everard, 33, was murdered by serving police officer Wayne Couzens

The murder sparked widespread outrage, and reignited concerns over women's safety from violence in public places.

During the investigation, Dame Cressida's police force was heavily criticised first for opposing plans for a vigil for Ms Everard, due to coronavirus rules.

The force then faced condemnation for officers man-handling protesters at the gathering in Clapham Common.

Dame Cressida also faced questions about her judgment, when she described the force as having a 'bad un' amid the outcry over Couzens' actions.

Pc Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to murdering Sarah Everard Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

Couzens' eventual conviction brought more scrutiny for the Met's ranks, as it was revealed colleagues had previously described him as "the rapist".

The force faced accusations it failed to properly investigate claims Couzens had indecently exposed himself in a public place.

The force's reaction to the aftermath - including issuing widely derided advice telling women in trouble to flag down a passing bus - later had to be retracted.

The treatment of the murder scene of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman

The conduct of police officers at crime scenes also came under intense scrutiny in the wake of the murders of two sisters in a London park.

Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were killed in Wembley, north-west London, in June 2020.

Former Met constables Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis were jailed for two years and nine months each last year for taking photographs of the sisters’ bodies and sharing them with friends and colleagues on WhatsApp.

Jaffer and Lewis were assigned to guard the scene after the sisters were found dead in bushes in Fryent Country Park.

Two police officers were jailed after sharing WhatsApp images of the bodies of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman Credit: left

Instead, the officers moved from their posts to take photographs of the bodies, which were then shared with colleagues and friends on WhatsApp.

One was a “selfie-style” image on which Lewis had superimposed his face.

The officers’ behaviour also included describing the victims as “dead birds” on WhatsApp groups.

Afterwards, the Metropolitan Police apologised to the victims’ family for the defendants’ “shameful” and “utterly unprofessional” actions.

The murdered sisters' mother, Mina Smallman, called on Dame Cressida to "get the rot out" following revelations over the officers' conduct.

Serial killer Stephen Port

The Met was accused of homophobia over its failings in the investigation into serial killer Stephen Port.

The force was criticised for missed opportunities to intervene in the killing spree.

In December, inquest jurors found that “fundamental failures” by the police were likely to have contributed to the deaths of three of serial killer Stephen Port’s victims.

Serial killer Stephen Port Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

Basic errors by a string of detectives left Port free to carry out a series of murders as well as drug and sexually assault more than a dozen other men in Barking, east London, between June 2014 and September 2015.

Storming of Wembley Stadium

Over the summer, Dame Cressida's officers were then hit with criticism over security during the final of the Euro 2020 championships, which saw thousands of ticketless fans storm Wembley Stadium.

An independent report castigated police and stadium officials over the incident as nearly 2,000 fans breached security, warning there could have been deaths.

Baroness Louise Casey described the violence at Wembley as "a day of national shame" and said the capital came close to a 'national tragedy.

The Met was singled out for deploying officers too late, amid a series of failings by authorities handling stadium crowds that day.

The Met said it was “deeply sorry” that so many people faced “unacceptable scenes of disorder,” but added it had faced unprecedented pressures from "thuggish football fans".

"Institutional corruption" within the Met

Last summer the notorious 1987 unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan hit the headlines, with an independent panel accusing the Met of institutional corruption over the case.

The family of the private investigator who was killed with an axe 34 years ago said they were set to sue the force over his killing.

Daniel Morgan Credit: ITV Wales

Mr Morgan died in the car park of a pub in Sydenham, south-east London, and a string of unsuccessful investigations into his death since have been mired with claims of corruption.

In June, an independent report accused the Met of institutional corruption over its handling of the case, saying it had concealed or denied failings to protect its reputation.

A Met Police Commissioner for "challenging times"

Dame Cressida was the Met's first ever female, and openly gay, commissioner, and has served more than 30 years in uniform.

In her resignation statement on Thursday, she described her pride at the capital's falling crime rate, tackling knife crime and overseeing challenges such as the Grenfell tragedy, the 2017 terrorist attacks, "difficult protests", the pandemic, and the murder of serving officers.

Priti Patel thanked for her service as her resignation was announced, noting her “steadfast dedication” during "challenging times."

Commissioner Cressida Dick and Mayor Sadiq Khan Credit: Met Police

The 'Spy Cops' scandal

The Met was also condemned during her tenure over the 'Spy Cops' scandal, in which environmental activists discovered the men they thought they were in relationships with were actually undercover police officers.

The Met apologised over the scandal in 2015 following a public inquiry into the force's National Public Order Intelligence Unit's tactics took place in the early-2000s.

But the incident was brought into sharp focus again more recently as some women engaged the force in human rights legal battles, at a time when the Met was facing fresh misogynistic culture accusations.

Academic strip searched

The force also apologised this year after an academic was strip-searched and subjected to degrading language in police cells.

Philosophy lecturer Konstancja Duff had been detained at a police station in the capital in 2013, after being arrested when she tried to offer a teem a card carrying legal advice during a stop-and-search on an east London estate.

Dame Cressida Dick defends her record on policing violent crime in the capital:

Operation Midland

Dame Cressida has also had to oversee the fall-out from Operation Midland, a multimillion-pound investigation which saw detectives duped by false claims of a VIP sex abuse ring made by fantasist Carl Beech.

Dame Cressida had been responsible for supervising the senior investigating officer who said allegations made by Beech, which were subsequently shown to be false, were “credible and true”.

In October 2019, she made a public apology for mistakes in the police investigations.

Two months later, she was referred to the IOPC, but later cleared.

Racial profiling by Met officers

During her term the Met has also continued to face criticism over the relationship between police and black Londoners, although she has repeatedly denied the force is institutionally racist.

The force faced controversy and allegations of racial profiling following a series of high-profile incidents.

However, Dame Cressida has defended the use of controversial stop and search powers to take weapons off London’s streets.

2021: A year of record teen killings in the capital

The outgoing commissioner said the force was "delivering" on its pledge to tackle violence in the capital, after 2021 became the worst year for teenage killings in London on record following 30 homicides.

"Overall violence is down," she said, adding that the force was "bucking the national trend" and "achieving remarkable results in key areas of violence.

There had been thousands of fewer victims of knife crime, robbery and other attacks, she added.

Credit: PA

The shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes

Brazilian man Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead at Stockwell Tube station in south London on July 22 2005 by an officer who mistook him for a terrorist.

Dame Cressida came under scrutiny when she was in charge of the operation that led to his death, but was later absolved of any blame by a jury.

A mosaic of Jean Charles de Menezes displayed outside Stockwell Tube where he was shot down. Credit: Press Association.

Appearing on Desert Island Discs in 2019, she described it as an “awful time”, adding: “I think about it quite often.”

“I wish, wish, wish it hadn’t happened, of course, but if anything it has made me a better leader, a better police officer and it has made me more resilient,” she said.

Why Dame Cressida Dick was asked to 'step aside'

The London Mayor had earlier this week indicated that Dame Cressida’s future hung in the balance because of her response to problems with the culture within the Met, as he demanded she restore the public’s confidence in the force.

On Thursday Mr Khan explained why he asked her to step aside.

He said: “Last week, I made clear to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner the scale of the change I believe is urgently required to rebuild the trust and confidence of Londoners in the Met and to root out the racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, discrimination and misogyny that still exists."

Earlier in the day, she told reporters she remained the right person for the job, insisting to the BBC there was “no place in the Met for sexism or racism or homophobia, for abuse of trust or for bullying”.

Dame Cressida addressed the scandals and the ensuing damage to the Met's reputation in her statement as she announced her resignation just hours later, but said she remained 'optimistic' the Met could rebuild trust.

She said: "The murder of Sarah Everard and many other awful cases recently have, I know, damaged confidence in this fantastic police service.

"There is much to do – and I know that the Met has turned its full attention to rebuilding public trust and confidence. For that reason I am very optimistic about the future for the Met and for London."