Dame Cressida has faced a series of scandals during her time leading Britain’s biggest police force – most recently violently racist, misogynist and homophobic messages exchanged by officers based at Charing Cross police station that were published by a watchdog.
The force also faced criticism over its apparent hesitation to launch an investigation into alleged parties held in Downing Street and the Cabinet Office during lockdown.
And there was fury over the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, as well as the force’s actions following her death in tackling a vigil held in her memory during coronavirus restrictions, and issuing clumsy advice telling women in trouble to flag down a passing bus that later had to be retracted.
Last summer the notorious 1987 unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan also hit the headlines, with an independent panel accusing the Metropolitan Police of institutional corruption over the case.
On Thursday evening, in a shock statement, Dame Cressida announced she was stepping down from the job, despite hours earlier having insisted she had no intention of going.
She said: “It is with huge sadness that following contact with the Mayor of London today, it is clear that the Mayor no longer has sufficient confidence in my leadership to continue.
“He has left me no choice but to step aside as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.”
The Mayor of London Mr Khan had earlier this week indicated that Dame Cressida’s future hung in the balance over her response to problems with the culture within the Met, and how to restore the public’s confidence in the force.
On Thursday he said: “Last week, I made clear to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner the scale of the change I believe is urgently required to rebuild the trust and confidence of Londoners in the Met and to root out the racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, discrimination and misogyny that still exists.
“I am not satisfied with the Commissioner’s response.
“On being informed of this, Dame Cressida Dick has said she will be standing aside.
“It’s clear that the only way to start to deliver the scale of the change required is to have new leadership right at the top of the Metropolitan Police.”
He added: “I will now work closely with the Home Secretary on the appointment of a new Commissioner so that we can move quickly to restore trust in the capital’s police service while keeping London safe.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has reportedly had past clashes with Dame Cressida, praised the officer’s “steadfast dedication”.
She said: “I’d like to thank Dame Cressida for the nearly four decades of her life that she has devoted to serving the public, latterly as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.
“She would be the first to say that she has held the role during challenging times; yet for nearly five years she has undertaken her duties with a steadfast dedication to protecting our capital city and its people, including during the unprecedented period of the pandemic.”
Cressida Dick’s statement in full issued by Scotland Yard said: “It is with huge sadness that following contact with the Mayor of London today, it is clear that the Mayor no longer has sufficient confidence in my leadership to continue. He has left me no choice but to step aside as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.
“At his request, I have agreed to stay on for a short period to ensure the stability of the Met and its leadership while arrangements are made for a transition to a new Commissioner.
“Undertaking this role as a servant of the people of London and the UK has been the greatest honour and privilege of my life.
“Throughout my career I have sought to protect the people of this wonderful thriving and diverse city.
“There have been many tough calls. And many challenges. The 2017 terrorist attacks, the Grenfell fire, difficult protests, the pandemic, the murder of serving officers.
“I’m incredibly proud of my team and all they have achieved.
“Since day one tackling violence in all its forms has been my number one priority. We continue to see teenagers murdered on our streets and every attack is a tragedy.
“But we are delivering and overall violence is down. The Met is bucking the national trend. We are achieving remarkable results in key areas of violence, with thousands of fewer victims of knife crime, robbery and other attacks.
“I leave a Met that is growing and will soon record the largest ever number of officers. London is becoming safer. These great people include more women than ever in every rank and role and an increasing number from a broad range of ethnic backgrounds that truly reflect the diversity of London.
“This Met is looking to the future and is ready for threats to come. Officers are better equipped and better informed as we take advantage of mobile and other technologies and forensic capabilities, and introduce better uniform and safety equipment.
“We are delivering enormous transformational change, improving our systems and trialling innovative and state-of-the-art technology including live facial recognition and faster ways to capture and examine digital information.
“Our counter terrorism capability is world leading. Last year I was extremely proud to see the first phase of the Counter Terrorism Operations Centre bringing all agencies together in one place as we adapt to the evolving threat.
“This is the Met where every hour of every day our people perform heroic acts to protect the public. We are more accountable, more transparent and more open than ever – with deeper links to our communities.
“The murder of Sarah Everard and many other awful cases recently have, I know, damaged confidence in this fantastic police service. There is much to do – and I know that the Met has turned its full attention to rebuilding public trust and confidence. For that reason I am very optimistic about the future for the Met and for London.
“Thank you to everyone in the Met and those who work with us for the extraordinary efforts you make each and every day. The public depend on you, for your professionalism, courage, compassion and integrity. You make a huge difference to people’s lives every day. I salute you.”