Out Met police chief Cressida Dick: Attitudes towards gay officers have changed

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick inspect police cadets at the Metropolitan Police Service Passing Out Parade to mark the graduation of 182 new recruits from the Metropolitan Police Academy, at Hendon, northwest London on November 3, 2017.

Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police (Met), has spoken about being the first out LGBT+ person to hold the role.

In an interview with the BBC’s Desert Island Discs on Sunday (February 10), the police chief spoke about her work and life with partner Helen, and how being visible was important to future generations.

When she was appointed in 2017, Dick became the first-ever female Met police commissioner, as well as the first out person to hold the role of Britain’s most senior police officer.

Cressida Dick: There are ‘lots’ of openly gay officers in the Met

Asked by host Lauren Laverne how attitudes towards LGBT+ people had changed during her three decades in the police force, Dick said: “Enormously, as it has for women as well.

“I think particularly for gay men, it’s changed enormously in that time.

“I would be naive if I thought it’s all plain sailing for everybody, but what I can say is that if I take you to see my response teams, there are people of all shapes and sizes, and lots of openly gay people.”

“I happen to love Helen — she’s my partner. On we go.”

— Cressida Dick, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service

She added: “The guys and girls don’t think twice about it.

“I want everybody to thrive, I want people from all backgrounds—ethnic backgrounds, religious backgrounds, sexuality, gender—to feel the Met is their Met, and that it’s a safe and good place for people to come to work. And I think it is.”

Speaking about the importance of being a visible LGBT+ figure, the police chief continued: “Sometimes people say to me that they think it’s important, but to be honest, for me, I think it’s one of the least interesting things about me! I happen to love Helen—she’s my partner. On we go.”

Cressida Dick: I am seen as a ‘bit different’

She added: “The fact that I am seen as a bit different in some respects I realise on some occasions makes young people think ‘I could have a go’ or ‘I might try, I feel different but I might try.’

“I know that lots and lots of women and men around the world aren’t able to do a job that they love and be themselves, and there’s a lot more for us to do.”

Dick confirmed that she is in a relationship with a female colleague, Helen, in a 2017 interview with London’s Evening Standard newspaper.

Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Cressida Dick

Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Cressida Dick (CHRIS J RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty)

She said of her partner: “I’m incredibly well-supported. I am a very happy person.

“I have a lovely life, very privileged. I came from a warm, close family who for generations were involved in public service.

“I joined the police because I wanted to be involved with a much wider range of people. I wanted to be in a team and doing something important.”

She added: “I long for the day when we can all be ourselves, whoever we are, and express ourselves in whatever way we like, and we don’t have these kinds of funny constraints in our heads that make us feel ‘Ooh, there’s a different power relationship because that’s a man and that’s a woman.’

“And we still get that. It’s not helpful.”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) recently concluded an investigation over potential lapses within the Metropolitan Police that allowed serial killer Stephen Port to evade authorities despite murdering four gay men between 2014 and 2015.

A probe was launched by the body into alleged police failings connected to the case, but 16 of the 17 officers involved refused to answer questions in interviews with the police watchdog.

The IOPC report was completed in August 2018 but it is yet to be published.