‘Listening and responsive’ new chief constable facing battle to restore morale

Mark Gilmore.
Mark Gilmore.
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WEST Yorkshire Police’s new chief constable has been appointed amid calls for him to restore morale in the wake of his predecessor’s resignation.

Mark Gilmore was yesterday named as the successor to Sir Norman Bettison, who stood down in October amid mounting pressure over his role in the Hillsborough football stadium disaster in 1989.

Mr Gilmore, 46, was an officer in Northern Ireland and an assistant chief constable in West Yorkshire before moving to Northumbria Police in 2011 to take up the post of deputy chief constable.

He will be paid £169,000 a year as West Yorkshire’s chief.

Jon Christopher, chairman of the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said he would be a popular appointment but added: “He needs to instil some morale back in the force.

“The demise of Sir Norman has had quite a damaging effect. He needs to look at that and bring some leadership.”

Mr Gilmore, who pledged to be a “listening and responsive” chief constable, admitted morale was low.

“We know morale is an issue across the police service and dealing with that will be one of my challenges,” he said.

Maintaining front-line policing in the face of sweeping budget cuts would be his priority, he said.

“The cuts are extremely challenging, but my role is to make sure we reduce budgets in a way that allows us to maintain a visible presence,” he said.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said selecting the new chief constable from the final four candidates was one of his most difficult decisions.

“Mark has proved himself someone of exceptional ability,” he said.

“Many of us have worked with him in the past and know him to be extremely enthusiastic and committed to policing and crime prevention in the county.”

John Parkinson, who was acting as chief constable and had been interviewed for the permanent position, will return to his job as deputy chief.