Crime commissioner may face competition to become Labour’s candidate in next year’s elections

South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner will not be Labour's automatic choice of candidate for the next four year term of office, it has emerged.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 19 April, 2019, 07:58
Dr Alan Billings

Dr Alan Billings took over mid-term after predecessor Shaun Wright resigned from the post in the aftermath of the Rotherham sex abuse scandal and was then re-elected.

But the veteran politician failed to win a 'trigger ballot' within Labour, meaning the selection process will be open to other candidates, should any decide to bid for the job.

Because he is the sitting PCC, he will be automatically entered for the selection process, it is understood.

Dr Billings has steered the force through the demands of the austerity years and employed current Chief Constable Stephen Watson on the understanding he would re-introduce neighbourhood policing, which had been scrapped by his predecessor on cost-saving grounds.

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That move has been regarded as a great success, with officers taking a 'problem solving' approach to community problems which has helped reduce demand on 'response' officers who answer 999 calls.

Under his stewardship the force has found the money to recruit 55 additional officers this year, though South Yorkshire councillors who make up the Police and Crime Panel, a watchdog body which holds the PCC to account, had wanted more.

A new computerised communications system has also been installed at the Atlas Court communications centre, a major investment aimed at helping police deal with soaring demand from members of the public wanting help.

The next Police and Crime Commissioner elections are due in May next year.