Today’s columnist, Dave Jones: Important time for the force

Interim Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police Dave Jones.
Interim Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police Dave Jones.
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I have been reflecting on the six weeks since I took over as the interim chief constable for South Yorkshire Police. In particular, the many police officers, police staff and volunteers I have met who are absolutely passionate about providing the best possible service to the community.

I have also been thinking about the richness and diversity of the communities in South Yorkshire and how we design a service which recognises and reflects those.

A service which has, at its heart, a strong local presence and which balances that against the many other complex demands on us.

That is why I sought support from colleagues across the country to help us objectively review all aspects of South Yorkshire Police.

Over the last few weeks the support team led by Deputy Chief Constable Andy Rhodes from Lancashire have been working with us to identify what we do well as a force and where we can improve. They have looked at culture and leadership, ethics and integrity, organisational learning as well as various operational issues.

We have had initial feedback in person this week and we look forward to the written feedback that will follow.

There will be a lot for the force to digest but we are committed to learning as much as we can from this excellent opportunity and putting into practice the recommendations. The Peer Group will continue to support us moving forward.

We continue to manage a number of operational events, including the recent PEGIDA march in Rotherham. There was a lot of local and media interest in the march and there were calls from many people for the march to be banned. Ultimately, we need to act within the law and our assessment was that the strict criteria for applying for a ban of the march was not met.

We will continue to work with the Home Office to consider the need for potential changes in the legislation. In the meantime, we will continue to work with all groups and communities to ensure we comply with the law, respecting the rights of all to protest peacefully, balanced against those affected.

The process to select the next permanent Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police is under way. It is a process run entirely by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. I look forward to working with the successful candidate in the coming months to ensure a smooth handover.

My hope is that our work in this interim period puts the force on a stronger footing and gives the new chief a clear view of how to take the force forward.