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Stephen Watson Joins South Yorkshire Police as Interim Chief Constable

Stephen Watson

The next South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable, Stephen Watson, will take up the post as Interim Chief Constable from Monday 25 July.

Chief Constable Dave Jones, South Yorkshire’s current Interim Chief Constable, will return to his substantive post as Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police, from 25 July when Interim Chief Constable Watson takes up the role in South Yorkshire.

A secondment agreement between Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, and Chief Constable Mike Barton of Durham Constabulary has enabled Mr Watson to assume command of South Yorkshire Police earlier than the expected date in November. Mr Watson will be based at South Yorkshire Police’s HQ in Sheffield from Monday 25 July and will lead the Senior Leadership Group in starting to make fundamental change in the Force. A further Temporary Assistant Chief Constable, Chris Rowley will join the Senior Leadership Team on Monday from West Yorkshire to support Chief Officer resilience.

Dr 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 from next Monday. 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, under Interim Chief Constable Jones, to restore public trust and confidence in the Force.

“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.  Interim Chief Constable Watson will be responsible for leading the Force forward through transformational change and will be working closely with our public, partners and staff, against a backdrop of continued budget pressures and scrutiny.

“I would like to express my sincere thanks to Interim Chief Constable Dave Jones, Assistant Chief Constable Ken McIntosh and the Force’s Senior Leadership Group who have done a considerable amount of work to stabilise the Force, including overseeing the Peer Review, which saw 22 experts from across a range of policing fields come together to assess the Force against areas of national best practice and to talk to officers and staff about their experiences and views of the Force today. This resulted in an honest and frank summary of where the Force is today, and provides the starting point for Interim Chief Constable Watson.”

Interim Chief Constable Stephen Watson said: “I am very much looking forward to moving to South Yorkshire and assuming the role with immediate effect. I have received detailed briefings from both Dr Billings and Chief Constable Jones on the Peer Review findings and on other key areas and I completely understand the scale of the job that needs to be done. However, I am in no doubt that the officers and staff within South Yorkshire Police are hard working, dedicated and ready to support the Senior Leadership Group to make the necessary changes to ensure that the Force is one that the public of South Yorkshire can be proud of.

“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 South Yorkshire Police. I know everyone is eager to move forward and I am confident I can offer the leadership to do so.

“One of the things at the very top of my agenda is to fundamentally improve our neighbourhood policing model. It is absolutely critical that our officers and staff form part of the fabric or our communities. In working with our partner agencies I want us to bring real energy and focus to responding to expressed public concern and, in particular, to caring for victims of crime. Solving problems at the neighbourhood level is essential in preventing small problems from turning into large and serious drivers of demand.”

Current Interim Chief Constable Dave Jones said: “I have spent a lot of time engaging with the officers and staff within the force and, whilst the last few months particularly has been bruising for them, I have been extremely impressed by everyone’s desire to improve and move forward as an organisation.

“I can assure you that you have a police service here that is full of people that care, who want to do a good job and who want to catch criminals and make their communities safer places to live and work. With that level of enthusiasm, I am confident that South Yorkshire Police can become a police service that we can all become proud of.

“As police leaders we need to make sure we give those officers and staff the opportunity to show their skill and enthusiasm every day - that is the task facing the new Chief when he arrives. It may be a long road ahead but my hope is that I have laid a strong foundation on which he can build.”

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

Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Watson was confirmed as the next Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police in a unanimous decision of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel on 8 July 2016. He was named as the preferred candidate by Dr Billings following a challenging assessment centre and interview process, which took place last month.

Mr Watson joins South Yorkshire from Durham Constabularywhere he is currently Deputy Chief Constable. He has held this position since June 2015.

Posted on Friday 22nd July 2016
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