‘Trust’ pledge as new chief takes up reins of scandal-hit force

Stephen Watson
Stephen Watson
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The new chief constable of South Yorkshire Police says trust and confidence are at the top of his agenda as he prepares to take up his role on an interim basis next week.

Stephen Watson, formerly of Durham Constabulary, will take up the post on Monday – months earlier than his previously agreed permanent start date.

He replaces David Crompton, who was suspended from his £195,000-a-year job, following the Hillsborough Inquests.

Current interim chief Dave Jones will return to North Yorkshire Police next week.

The force is facing major IPCC investigations relating to corruption allegations in connection to both Hillsborough and the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal, as well as a potential new independent inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said this week she would consider the case for an inquiry into Orgreave over the summer before meeting campaigners in September and making a decision as soon as possible after that.

Police and crime commissioner Dr Alan Billings said: “I am very grateful that Durham Constabulary has agreed to release Mr Watson early to allow him to take over the reins in South Yorkshire.

“This move will enable South Yorkshire Police to immediately begin to take forward the recommendations from the recent peer review and to continue the work already started to restore public trust and confidence.

“The last few months have been very turbulent for South Yorkshire Police, and whilst there has been considerable progress made, the force still has a long way to go to establish stability.

“I would like to express my sincere thanks to interim chief constable Dave Jones, assistant chief constable Ken Mckintosh and the force’s senior leadership group who have done a considerable amount of work to stabilise the force.”

Mr Watson, who has been deputy chief constable at Durham since 2015, said: “Trust and confidence are at the forefront of my agenda and I intend to spend time with officers in all areas of the force, and to actively engage with the public and partners.

“I want to ensure that the people of South Yorkshire are proud of their force and that our dedicated staff are proud to work for us.”

The peer review, carried out by the College of Policing, warned last month that good officers were “jumping ship.”

It also attacked the decision to cut £8 million from neighbourhood policing budgets by removing dedicated teams of knowledgeable local officers who dealt specifically with longer-term community issues instead of just responding to crime reports.

Mr Watson will take up the permanent chief constable role for a five-year term from November, when Mr Crompton is due to retire.

North Yorkshire Police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan welcomed back Chief Constable Dave Jones.

She said: “It’s rare for a chief constable to spend time leading another force in the way Dave Jones has and he will be bringing the benefit of that experience back to North Yorkshire with him. I am sure he will put that to good use in moving forward our vision for North Yorkshire.”

Acting Chief Constable Tim Madgwick will return to his Deputy Chief Constable role at NYP.