Job cuts are to be put on hold at South Yorkshire Police following a new review of the force.
The review is described by interim Chief Constable Dave Jones as an 'uncomfortable read', where job losses and a 'disturbing' move away from neighbourhood policing are highlighted as some of the issues affecting the force.
Mr Jones and Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, asked the College of Policing to assess the force’s operational and organisational capability and capacity in May following the suspension of former Chief Constable, David Crompton, over his handling of the inquests into the deaths of 96 football fans in the Hillsborough disaster in Sheffield in 1989.
A team of 22 experts carried out the review into what South Yorkshire Police does well and where improvements can be made.
It found that decision making has been isolated, staff have not been listened to and action has not always been taken on agreed plans.
The review also found that financial and operational planning have not been linked and there has been an under-investment in key areas.
It claims 'cuts to police staff have not been well thought through' and that 'good people are jumping ship' because of the cuts.
The review recommends halting job losses until a new Chief Constable is appointed with a clear vision for moving forward.
Chf Con Jones said: “When I took on this post I committed to bring together experts from across the country to assist South Yorkshire Police in becoming a better service and to publish their findings.
“Experts from across a range of policing fields came to South Yorkshire to assess the force against areas of national best practice and to talk to officers and staff about their experiences and view of the force today. The report reflects that assessment and those views and is an honest and frank summary of where we are today.
“The report makes clear that decision making has been isolated, staff have not been listened to and action has not always been taken on agreed plans. Financial and operational planning have not been linked and there has been an under-investment in key areas. There has been a disturbing move away from an effective neighbourhood policing model.
Chief Constable Jones added: “The report holds a mirror up to the organisation and reflects the views of the police officers and staff who try so hard to provide the best possible service to the communities in South Yorkshire. I pay tribute to those officers and staff who continue to go the extra mile for the public.
“The report is an uncomfortable read, but an important one if we are to return this service back to the heart of our communities. One where South Yorkshire Police is back as part of the very fabric of neighbourhoods.
“The report will be shared with the incoming Chief Constable and will undoubtedly become his priority in the months and years ahead.”
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The results of the peer review do not provide for an easy read but they do provide solid and comprehensive views from across the organisation that will allow the force to move forward.
"The strength of a peer review is that it is a listening exercise. What the team is reporting on is what they have been told by staff from across the whole organisation.
“There is also a recognition that South Yorkshire Police has many dedicated, high quality people who are doing an excellent job and displaying high levels of public service motivation.
“But it is clear that there has been a lack of direction which has led to a situation where decisions have been made in isolation, rather than collectively, often based on financial targets instead of a clear understanding of demand and sense of purpose.
“The findings provide a picture for the incoming Chief Constable of the strengths and weaknesses within the organisation with recommendations to allow him to hit the ground running when he joins the force in the coming months.”