London’s Metropolitan Police Service, better known as Scotland Yard, is Britain’s oldest and biggest police force. More than 43,000 officers and staff work for the organization.
On Wednesday, Cressida Dick, 56, was named as the first female police commissioner in the organization’s 188-year history.
In a statement, the former beat cop from London’s West End, said she was “thrilled and humbled” by the appointment.
From 2011 to 2014 Dick was head of counterterrorism, and among other operations, she oversaw security for the 2012 London Olympics.
The Associated Press reports Dick’s record is not without controversy:
“She has drawn criticism for commanding an operation after the July 2005 London bombings in which an innocent Brazilian man, Jean Charles de Menezes, was shot dead by police after being mistaken for a suicide bomber.
“A jury cleared Dick of blame, but relatives of de Menezes’ had called for her not to be given the top job at Scotland Yard.
“In a statement issued by cousin Patricia Armani, the family said they had ‘serious concerns’ about the appointment.
“‘The message of today’s appointment is that police officers can act with impunity,’ they said.”
Dick worked for Scotland Yard for 31 years. In 2014, she left to become general secretary at the Foreign Office.
The Guardian newspaper reports:
“Dick’s appointment means five of the top posts in the criminal justice system in England and Wales are now held by women. Lynne Owens is director general of the National Crime Agency, seen as a rival to the Met for prestige. The other women leading the justice system include Alison Saunders at the Crown Prosecution Service, [Home Secretary Amber] Rudd and [chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Sara] Thornton.
“In all, six candidates applied to be commissioner. It was the first time foreign police chiefs would be considered but none applied despite the government changing the law. The Guardian understands that one U.S. police chief was sounded out but declined to apply.”
Dicks succeeds Bernard Hogan-Howe, who steps down next week after being Britain’s top police officer for more than five years.