Chief constable suspended over crime inquiry at former force

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WEST Yorkshire chief constable Mark Gilmore has been suspended over alleged “criminal activity during his time in Northern Ireland”.

A Press conference was called yesterday by Mark Burns-Williamson, police and crime commissioner for the county – and the man with the power to hire or fire the chief constable.

Mark Gilmore on his first day in charge of West Yorkshire Police in April 2013

Mark Gilmore on his first day in charge of West Yorkshire Police in April 2013

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “This morning I suspended the chief constable of West Yorkshire, Mark Gilmore.

“The reason for this suspension is as a result of information I have received from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) arising from an investigation announced by them earlier this week.

“I would like to stress that the suspension of the chief constable is a necessity in the public interest until the full facts have been established.

“I have also referred this matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Police crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson

Police crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson

“I sincerely hope that the PSNI investigation is concluded quickly in a way that could allow me to lift the suspension and Mr Gilmore to return to his post and continue the vital work to ensure communities are safer and feel safer.”

Mr Burns-Williamson added: “I will be keeping the suspension under review as the PSNI investigation proceeds and in the meantime I have asked deputy chief constable Dee Collins to act as chief constable for West Yorkshire.”

“It would be inappropriate for me to make any further comments at this time.”

Temporary chief constable Dee Collins said: “I hope to see this investigation brought to a speedy conclusion.

Mark Gilmore with West Yorkshire PCC, Mark Burns-Williamson.

Mark Gilmore with West Yorkshire PCC, Mark Burns-Williamson.

“Until that time I have taken on the role of temporary chief constable.

“A short time ago, I briefed senior colleagues and we are all agreed that the most important thing now is to maintain our focus on serving the public.

“People should feel reassured that day to day service is unaffected and their Neighbourhood Policing Teams will continue to provide the local service they value.”

Mr Gilmore, who has been in his role for just over a year, was born in 1964.

He spent his formative years in the Belfast area.

Originally from the Shankill Road, Mr Gilmore was educated at the Boys’ Model School in north Belfast.

According to the West Yorkshire Police website, he “spent a short period of time working in the Health Service before joining the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1983, which later became the Police Service of Northern Ireland”.

He then went on to become assistant chief constable at the force.

Mr Gilmore has also previously had the role of deputy chief constable for Northumbria Police and served as assistant chief constable in West Yorkshire for two years.

When he was appointed last year, he replaced Sir Norman Bettison, who resigned in October amid mounting pressure following the inquiry into the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster.

Reports in Belfast have stated that an investigation is currently ongoing into the awarding of contracts for police vehicles.

A newspaper has reported that seven people have been arrested in connection with the investigation on suspicion of a range of offences including bribery, misconduct in public office and procuring misconduct in public office.

Raids were carried out at houses and businesses across Northern Ireland as part of the investigation.