AS SOUTH Yorkshire’s suspended chief constable David Crompton refuses to accede to calls from his force’s crime commissioner Dr Alan Billings to formally resign his position over his mishandling of the fallout from the Hillsborough inquests, three points need to be re-enforced.
First, police chiefs still appear to be in denial about the scale of this 27-year miscarriage of justice, and its impact on the family and friends of the 96 football fans crushed to death at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.
Newly-released correspondence shows Mr Crompton did not, according to Dr Billings, appear to “appreciate the enormity of the situation” – reference to a fresh inquest concluding that the Liverpool supporters were unlawfully killed – while Sir Tom Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, questioned whether it is right to expect “a chief constable to resign...simply because he is the face of an organisation which is the subject of public criticism”. If the highest-ranking officer isn’t responsible for a constabulary’s conduct, whether it be day-to-day policing or the manner in which the Hillsborough witnesses were cross-examined, who is?
Second, the legal costs from this battle of wills just weeks before Mr Crompton’s official retirement is an unhelpful and unnecessary drain on the public purse when police resources are already so stretched.
Third, this stand-off does, in many respects, justify the advent of crime commissioners. Why? It is far preferable for these matters to be taken locally rather than by Ministers. However it is a sad indictment on the current culture of policing that so many chief officers – Mr Crompton being a prime example – appear to resent the scrutiny that this now entails.
WHAT WILL Brexit mean not just for Yorkshire – but Britain’s trading relationships with Europe and the rest of the world? One hundred days after the electorate defied the political establishment and voted to leave the EU, Theresa May will have to use the Tory conference to outline her vision – or risk voters losing faith in her desire, and ability, to deliver their command.
As she and the Brexit Ministers – Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox – try to devise a negotiating strategy, they should embrace the IPPR North’s call to form a Northern Brexit Negotiating Committee so this region receives the best possible deal. The think-tank’s proposal could not be more timely as splits in the Conservative Party widen.
Not only will the Government’s stance determine whether this region can fulfil its economic potential as Ministers finally recognise the untapped opportunities that exist in the English regions, but it comes as car manufacturer Nissan seeks reassurances from the Government about the impact of Brexit on its Sunderland car plant, not least the consequences of trade tariffs, before committing the company to further investment at the site, one of the North East’s leading employers.
In short, Mrs May needs to utilise every talent available – the Brexit renegotiation is too important, and too big, to be left to Government alone.
A tribute to Amy
MORE than 85 years after her historic solo flight to Australia, and 75 years after she crashed to her death during the Second World War, it is entirely fitting that the pioneering Amy Johnson should be honoured with a new statue in her home city of Hull. It can only help to inspire young women of today to broaden their horizons – and realise that exciting careers in aviation, aeronautics and the like are not the exclusive preserve of their male peers.
What is disappointing, however, is that local authorities and local civic societies still seem to favour prominent males when they decide who to cast in bronze. Though this is changing thanks to the Sheffield Women of Steel statue and Manchester’s enlightened decision to build a memorial to the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, the first female to receive such a honour in the city in more than a century, it’s hardly indicative of equality in this era of opportunity for all.
The facts speak for themselves – 85 per cent of statues in the UK are of men. There are 12 listed statues of women in Yorkshire, but six are of Queen Victoria and the other six are of mythical figures. Youngsters will be even more inquisitive if they see statues of role models who they can relate to. Who in this great county would you like to see bestowed with such a tribute? Let the debate begin.