The new man in temporary charge of crisis-hit South Yorkshire Police has pledged to listen to people ‘let down’ by the force.
Dave Jones has said he will be speaking to communities in South Yorkshire and rank-and-file officers - as well as the families of those who died in the Hillsborough disaster and those campaigning for an inquiry into the policing of the Battle of Orgreave in 1984.
Mr Jones - the current chief constable of North Yorkshire Police - has been appointed to run the force on a temporary basis and is to oversee a review of the force’s leadership and culture which will be conducted by a yet-to-be appointed senior police officer from another service.
It comes as the force prepares to advertise for a new permanent chief constable, with police commissioner Alan Billings hoping an appointment can be made by the summer. Mr Jones’ arrival follows the suspension on full pay of David Crompton last week in regard to his handling of the Hillsborough inquest process and the force’s response to the unlawful killings verdict.
Dr Billings initially appointed deputy chief constable Dawn Copley as Mr Crompton’s temporary replacement - but she offered to stand aside just 24 hours later after it emerged she was subject to a misconduct investigation over allegations made in relation to her time at Greater Manchester Police.
Mr Jones told a press conference in Sheffield: “There is no question that this is a very difficult period, both for South Yorkshire Police as an organisation, and for the communities it serves locally and further afield.
“Nevertheless, I believe there is a strong desire - both inside and outside the police service - for the force to move forward in a positive direction.
“First and foremost, I will engage with those communities both inside and outside of South Yorkshire who have been let down by the police service. I want to understand how their confidence in policing has been affected, and work with them to build it back up and restore pride back into the police service.
“It is also important that officers and police staff are supported to get on with the day job, which is to serve the public of South Yorkshire and keep people safe.”
Mr Jones added: “I need to hear from the families of the Hillsborough disaster, the truth and justice committee for Orgreave and also the public of South Yorkshire about how they experience policing and what they think’s not working.
“But crucially, I also think that the workforce need to be able to get a voice into that review to make sure we fully understand, warts and all, what we think is actually happening in policing in 2016. It is just not South Yorkshire Police and we do need a national response to that issue.”
Dr Billings said: “The last week has been very turbulent for South Yorkshire Police and I am well aware of the anguish felt by the communities of South Yorkshire and police officers and staff. I will be working closely with the force to establish stability as soon as possible.”
Mr Jones has arrived at South Yorkshire Police following a torrid four years for the force under the leadership of the now-suspended David Crompton.
Since 2012, the organisation has been criticised for a range of different controversies.
As well as the policing of the Hillsborough disaster and the events that followed the 1989 tragedy, the force has been at the centre of the scandal over child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, the controversy surrounding a search of Sir Cliff Richard’s house and ongoing questions about the policing of the miners’ strike.
Mr Jones said: “It is not going to be a short journey. There is also a responsibility for central Government around the resourcing situation in South Yorkshire.
“We need to start to understand what it is we need to try and fix.”
He added: “I joined the police service to make a difference and to keep people safe, and that will be my focus at South Yorkshire Police.
“I am not under-estimating the scale of the work ahead, but part of the reason why I have taken on this interim role is that I believe that the policing as a whole has a duty to help the service in South Yorkshire to move forward. It is vitally important and it is the bedrock of British policing that we have the trust and confidence of the public.”