Your paper carried two headlines on Wednesday which suggested that I criticised South Yorkshire Police for holding an awards ceremony in Rotherham.
The same theme was picked up in an editorial where you state that I ‘criticised the force for daring to hold a celebration for its officers’ in Rotherham.
This is completely untrue. On the contrary, I attended the event, I spoke at the event, I presented an award at the event. I fully supported the event; that is why I was there.
I told the officers present that I recognised how sensitive they were to the situation in Rotherham – which the District Commander spoke about very movingly – but nevertheless it was right to hold the event and recognise good work and achievement. Indeed I said it was essential for morale to do so.
The Star ‘s page one story: ‘Misguided’ Rotherham police awards publicity criticised
The Star’s opinion: OPINION: Credit the good cops
My only criticism was that by using Facebook on the night they would invite some criticism. The editorial seems to have elided the two and as a result was misleading.
So perhaps you will let me put the record straight since I shall also be attending the Sheffield awards ceremony this Friday.
I fully support the recognition of good policing through the awards ceremonies.
I am prepared to criticise the police when they make mistakes – that is my job. They will hear that criticism if I am seen as acting fairly. But it does not help me or the force if attitudes are attributed to me that are not true.
Dr Alan Billings
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner