COLUMN: It is vital to rebuild confidence in the police

Community Support Officers patrol the city centre
Community Support Officers patrol the city centre

The last month has been a very turbulent one for South Yorkshire Police. As the new interim chief constable I am acutely aware of the effect this will have had on communities and on everyone working for the force. It is vitally important to start building up confidence again both inside and out of the organisation.

The decision to come was one I carefully considered. As the national lead for Citizens in Policing and national lead for volunteering, it seemed appropriate. Also, I am a believer that when your neighbour asks for help, you lend a hand. The agreemen received the support of North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan and I am very grateful for that.Arriving in an organisation with a fresh pair of eyes can be very useful in terms of bringing new ideas, but it is also vital I quickly understand the force and the communities it serves. First and foremost, I intend to come out and meet you, the public of South Yorkshire to understand your views and concerns. I will also be out working with frontline officers as much as I can. I have spent much of last week attending briefings and meeting staff.

I have called for support from both the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs Council and some of the best police leaders in the country will be assisting us. A Deputy Chief Constable from another force will be coming to lead an improvement review, broadly to understand what we do well and where we can improve. We welcome this support and my intention is that this review will provide the new Chief Constable with an informed starting position.

I will also work very closely with the re-elected Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings to try to secure sufficient funding and resources to tackle challenges ahead. There has been plenty of coverage in the last fortnight of civil claims being made against South Yorkshire Police in the wake of the Hillsborough inquest. It is absolutely right these claims are dealt with properly and we will support that process. I am taking advice on how best to do this. I would like to end on a balanced note. There has been a lot of negative media coverage recently and it is important we understand why, but it has been encouraging that we have had a number of messages of support from the public. It is clear many of you feel officers on the streets do a good job. It is important to build on that and while the hard work will continue long after I return to North Yorkshire, I want to set South Yorkshire on a course of being one of the best forces in the country, in the headlines for the right reasons, one that you, the South Yorkshire public can be proud of.