Ex-officer claims new Met chief must be white male who can admit past prejudice

11 February 2022, 13:27 | Updated: 11 February 2022, 15:34

By Amelia Isaacs

This is James O'Brien's exchange with a former police officer who said the Met chief "has to be a white male" who will hold his hands up to past prejudices because "we've all done it".

Speaking to LBC's James O'Brien, this ex-Met police officer said "the buck must stop with Cressida Dick" and for things to charge, the person in charge "has to be a white male."

The caller, John, claimed "we've all done it", referring to the culture of racist and sexist jokes in the police force.

This comes after Dame Cressida announced she is stepping down as Metropolitan Police commissioner after the force was engulfed in scandals.

She said Mayor of London Sadiq Khan left her "no choice" after it was clear he had no confidence in her leadership.

John said: "The culture within the Met is very much down to her.

"One point that I wanted to make is that in order for things to change, and this is going to sound really odd, but the person that needs to be in charge of the Met has to be a white male.

"And the reason why I say that is because we need somebody who's willing to put their hands up and say 'You know what, I've been really silly in the past and I have been like this. I have had these thoughts. I have been prejudiced in the past, but what I did was very, very stupid and I shouldn't be like that.'"

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James O'Brien pushed back at the former police officer: "It wouldn't work.

"Drawing on my professional expertise such as it is, if stories emerged like that, even if it was a ten year old WhatsApp group, I don't think you would be able to stay in post, however sincere you are."

John said: "I'm being honest, because we've all done it, haven't we?"

James said: "Well no, no. I don't think we all have done it.

"It depends what you're talking about but there's many people who've never been publicly racist. Or even privately racist."

The caller clarified that he wasn't just talking about racism, but people who have "in some some way been bigoted [or] sexist", giving the example of ignoring someone or laughing along.

James agreed, noting comments that get passed off as banter.

He quipped: "I've actually written a book about this so I don't know why I'm disagreeing with you."

But he firmly clarified that's it's all "to varying degrees", saying "I don't want to get distracted or confused".

James said that he agreed that the police commissioner should have the space to admit where they've gone wrong, but said "I just don't think they'd be allowed the space to do that."

The former police officer said: "I think that the culture has to be set by the person at the top and it has to permeate.

"The person at the top, Cressida Dick, should have said to officers below her, the senior management, 'Look, this is what I expect. If people below you are behaving in such a way you can expect your jobs are going to go as well.'

"And I can guarantee you as soon as she said that things would have changed, things ought to have changed, but she wasn't able to do that."

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