Britain’s new most senior police officer has spoken of her “huge concern” about the rise in gun and knife crime and said tackling violence will define her time in the role.
Cressida Dick, who formally began work last week as the first female commissioner of the Metropolitan police, pledged to “bear down across the wide spectrum of violent crime”.
New figures for London showed gun crime was up 42% and knife crime rose 24%. “The figures worry me,” Dick told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
She added: “I’m not sure that whether we can be sure it’s a trend. But if it is the case that gun crime and knife crime is going up, then that’s of huge concern to me, and it will mark out my commissionership trying to bear down on violence in general and those two crimes in particular.”
She paid tribute to her predecessor, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, for leaving the Met in “good shape”, but added that while she thought the Met was the finest police force in the world it “could do better”.
Asked which challenges facing the Met most worried her, she said: “None of them will keep me awake at night. I won’t be a very good commissioners if I am tossing and turning at night.”
On her first day in the new role last week, Dick attended the funeral of PC Keith Palmer, the police officer killed in the Westminster terrorist attack.
Dick cautioned against automatically arming all police officers guarding the House of Commons as many have suggested.
She said: “It is very hard to say that if Keith had been armed he would be alive today … There’s a backdrop of loads of members of the public where he was standing, so even if he had had a firearm it might have been difficult for him to take a shot.”
She added that decisions about arming officers would have to be based on the threats they faced.
The Met’s £3bn annual budget needs to be cut by at least £400m. Dick said she would not be “crying wolf” about challenges facing the Met, and pledged that she would try to find ways of “cutting fat” in the force and promoting innovation.