Labour choose former Sheffield parish priest as South Yorkshire PCC candidate

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A former Sheffield parish priest has been selected as Labour’s candidate for the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner election.

Dr Alan Billings, who was deputy leader of Sheffield City Council in the 1980s, is standing for the party following the resignation of Shaun Wright in the wake of the Rotherham abuse scandal.

Dr Billings, who is a regular contributor to Radio 4’s Thought for the Day on the Today programme, said: “My first priority will be to keep the police focussed on doing everything to ensure that all instances of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham are fully investigated with perpetrators brought to justice, officials held to account and victims fully supported. There must be no complacency but also no witch-hunting.

“At the same time we must start to rebuild trust between the police and the community. A decent and law-abiding society is built on trust between citizens and the police. Re-building trust will be my key objective.”

Dr Billings was until recently a board member of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, which oversees the work of the criminal justice system for the under 18s. He is also a former member of the England Committee of the Big Lottery Fund and Director of the Centre for Ethics and Religion at Lancaster University.

He has been given the backing of former Home Secretary David Blunkett, MP for Hillsborough and Brightside, and Clive Betts, MP for Sheffield South West.

Mr Blunkett said: “Alan Billings has just the right skills and relevant experience to make a success of Police and Crime Commissioner at this difficult time for and with, the people of South Yorkshire. He has a strong track record of commitment to justice, crime prevention and cutting re-offending.

“He’s also tough in his insistence on efficient, effective and responsive services.”

The announcement from Labour follows Ukip revealing their candidate will be former police inspector Jack Clarkson, who currently represents Stocksbridge on Sheffield Council,

The by-election is on Thursday 30 October.