CRESSIDA DICK has had a year to forget.
The Met Police commissioner oversaw haphazard policing during the Euro 2020 Wembley chaos, teen stabbings in the capital continue to be at record highs and there were ugly clashes with cops, on her watch, at the Sarah Everard memorial vigil.
This week an unlikely group of high-profile people — including the mum of murdered Stephen Lawrence, and DJ Paul Gambaccini — urged the Home Secretary not to extend her contract.
But on Friday she was given a two-year extension to her tenure. And I’m happy that she was. If you are not, then ask yourself the question: Were any of her rivals a better fit for the job?
First you had Neil Basu, until recently the Met’s head of counter-terrorism and now assistant commissioner for specialist operations, which includes responsibilities around national security.
In 2019, he suggested home-grown terrorism was fuelled by a lack of social mobility and inclusion, and said better education and opportunities for young people would do more to fight terrorism than policing.
Is this the soft approach we want from the top of our police force? Also in contention was Andy Cooke, head of Merseyside Police until earlier this year, who said even violent criminals are “not inherently bad people” and that he would rather pump billions into fighting inequality than upholding the law.
For all of Cressida Dick’s perceived flaws, she would never be as soft as this.
What she offers that these others do not is no-nonsense leadership at a time when policing has never been more difficult to do.
The fact she has survived these well-publicised crisis moments is partly because of how well liked and respected she is by other people in the force.
“She’s a good cop, simple as that,” says Ken Marsh, who is chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents more than 30,000 officers.
Dame Cressida had decades on the ground as a policewoman herself, from being a bobby on the beat to a hostage negotiator for years.
When she started the top job in 2017 she faced huge challenges, including an epidemic of knife crime, cybercrime and an elevated terrorist threat, as well as allegations of institutional racism.
Then came the ultimate challenge of policing the pandemic — keeping the peace as well as overseeing the various protests that happened as a result.
MORE RIGHT THAN WRONG
Some of the things she is being blamed for — most notably Operation Midland, which looked into false accusations of child abuse against a series of high-profile people — were inherited.
But also, over the last five years, Dame Cressida has got many more things right than wrong.
Yes, knife crime is still a major issue but London fundamentally feels like a very safe city to live in. And behind the scenes she has lobbied for a substantial recruitment programme, now underway.
Most importantly, public order has, in general, been preserved even throughout the various BLM, Extinction Rebellion and Kill The Bill protests — all of which take up huge police resources.
As a leader, she is consistent. She is stern, with old-fashioned and strong values. And I cannot help but speculate Cressida has had more stick because she is a woman. The same can be said for the Home Secretary.
All leaders have triumphs as well as failures but people seem less tolerant of failure from a woman.
Sometimes it is all too easy to criticise and scapegoat the police but I have total respect for them. They go out every day to work not knowing what they will face or even if they are going to return home.
They run towards danger, not away from it. They come to your rescue when you need them most, a phone call away.
Let us not underestimate how difficult the job of police commissioner is.
Sure, she has made some mistakes. But show me someone in a similar role who hasn’t.
As someone who lives in London, I believe she deserves her two extra years
A SLAP HAPPY STANCE
I LOVE make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury and I love her cosmetics.
However, I was a bit shocked to hear that her husband has never seen her without any make-up on her face.
She even wears it to bed, saying in a recent interview: “I have my bedroom eye. I take off my make-up, do my skincare, then I put on my Colour Theory eyeliner that lasts 16 hours and my mascara.
“George has never seen me without a bedroom eye. Never! I tell you, keep the magic alive.”
Seriously? This seems like a very outdated attitude to me.
Although luckily for me, my husband prefers me without make-up on, which means I get to wear it when I want to – not for my husband or for anyone else.
WINNIE A WOKE VICTIM
I’M sorry to ask yet again if the world has gone mad.
But are we seriously airbrushing Sir Winston Churchill’s full name from the charity that was set up in his memory?
You couldn’t make it up, but this week The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust actually removed pictures of the wartime leader from its website and is changing its name to the Churchill Fellowship.
It has also put a statement on the website saying that Winston Churchill’s views on race are “widely seen as unacceptable today, a view that we share”.
After an outcry, the Trust has reinstated his picture. But it says the name change will remain because the old name was “confusing”.
It claims the change is not an attempt to “disown” him. But you could be forgiven for thinking it is.
The former Prime Minister has frequently been voted the greatest Briton of all-time, steering the nation through our darkest wartime hour. Now we are trying to cancel him.
This feels like wokeness gone mad. We need to remember our history, not rewrite it.
CARE IN SICKER HEALTH
DESPITE massive opposition, including from his own party, Boris Johnson secured enough backing from MPs for his controversial £12billion National Insurance tax raid to pay for health and social care.
The House voted by 319 to 248 in favour of the 1.25 percentage point increase in NI contributions.
Lots of people are deeply unhappy about this rise. The Government’s working majority of more than 80 was reduced to 71, with a number of Tories apparently choosing to abstain.
Others said they were backing it with the greatest reluctance about Boris Johnson abandoning a key manifesto pledge.
I, for one, am happy to pay the additional cost, though I won’t ever use the NHS social care system.
But honestly, if this money is going to make any kind of difference and not be swallowed up into a big black hole, the entire NHS needs a review from top to bottom.
There could be massive amounts of cost savings, streamlining and making it fit for purpose.
At the moment, the NHS gets more money every year – yet the patient care gets worse.
CAN it really be true that the man who posted openly racist abuse on social media about the three black England players who missed penalties did not realise his words were racist?
Scott McCluskey, 43, from Cheshire, pleaded guilty to making the Facebook comments after the Euro 2020 final.
He was very lucky to be spared jail, in my view. McCluskey was sentenced to 14 weeks, suspended for 18 months. When it comes to racism, ignorance is not a defence.
We need to set a zero- tolerance example, as it’s the only way to stamp it out in football.
SUPERMODEL CINDY’S GOT GENES TO DIE FOR
HOW can Cindy Crawford, at the age of 55, look to all intents and purposes the same as she did in 1992?
Deeply unfair, I reckon.
Looking at the photos she posted on Instagram recreating the Pepsi ad she made back then, she is wearing denim shorts, a white vest top and stilettos – and looking a million dollars.
I am sure she has a maintenance regime as long as your arm.
But looking this fresh, dynamic and downright gorgeous in your mid-fifties comes down mainly to one thing: Genes. (Not just jeans.)
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