Decision to sack South Yorkshire Chief Constable reaches £450,000

Former Chief Constable David Crompton during his time at South Yorkshire Police
Former Chief Constable David Crompton during his time at South Yorkshire Police

The decision to sack South Yorkshire Chief Constable David Crompton after the Hillsborough disaster inquests has cost taxpayers more than £450,000 – so far.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, axed David Crompton over a statement he issued at the end of the inquests into the deaths of 96 football fans in the Hillsborough disaster.

A jury concluded that police conduct contributed to or caused the deaths of the football fans in the stadium disaster in 1989 and the families of those who died complained that a line of questioning by South Yorkshire Police during the inquests was designed to try and blame the supporters.

After the inquests, Mr Crompton issued a statement viewed by some as appearing to justify the questioning of the fans’ conduct.

Dr Billings suspended him and later ordered his resignation, claiming the statement showed Mr Crompton did not ‘grasp the gravity of the situation’ and that it was ‘insensitive and damaged both the force and the Chief Constable himself’.

But Mr Crompton challenged the decision and took his case to judicial review in the High Court, where judges ruled in his favour. They said the sacking was ‘wholly disproportionate’.

The Star can reveal that so far the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has mounted up legal costs of £157,000 in ousting Mr Crompton from his job and the judicial review process.

The PCC’s office will also have to reimburse Mr Crompton for his legal fees, which are expected to mirror Dr Billings’, which would be another £150,000.

During the time Mr Crompton was suspended before he was forced to resign, he was on his full salary of £143,916 a year.

He was suspended last April and resigned from his post on September 29 after the PCC called for him to go.

Two interim Chief Constables were appointed to cover Mr Crompton’s absence, with Dave Jones, from North Yorkshire Police, paid £43,717 between May 3 and July 24 and Stephen Watson, who was later officially appointed, paid £68,171 between July 25 and November 30.

Chief Con Jones brought an Assistant Chief Constable with him to South Yorkshire while he was there – at a cost of £33,808 between May 3 and July 24 last year.

Mr Crompton, who had 30 years’ service, had already announced his intention to retire last November before he was suspended.

Dr Billings, who is considering appealing against the High Court judgement over his decision to sack Mr Crompton, said he does not intend to resign himself.

“It is not my intention to resign, for two main reasons. First, it is well over a year since these events and South Yorkshire Police have moved on and are now in a better place. I have appointed a Chief Constable who has begun to make important improvements, including the restoration of neighbourhood policing. The last thing the force needs now is another period of uncertainty and turbulence,” he said.

“Second, a resignation would trigger a by-election. This would be across 14 constituencies and cost in the region of £1.5 million. I doubt whether the public of South Yorkshire would consider this a good use of public money which could be better spent on public services.”

Former South Yorkshire police officer Ian Wallace, who served between 1976 and 2006, including 10 years as a detective, has called for Dr Billings to resign.

“I am a member of the National Association of Retired Police Officers having served the people of South Yorkshire proudly for more than 30 years. I am also a council tax payer in Sheffield and as such part of my council tax goes to funding the South Yorkshire Police.

“As the person elected to provide South Yorkshire with an effective and efficient police service Dr Billings has utterly failed.”