South Yorkshire's new Chief Constable not expecting an 'easy life'

Stephen Watson
Stephen Watson

South Yorkshire's new Chief Constable has admitted he isn't expecting an 'easy life' as head of one of the country's most controversial forces.

Stephen Watson, who has been brought to replace Chief Constable David Crompton, is suspended, said: "This is not a job I've taken on because I want an easy life."

With the HiIllsborough disaster, child sexual exploitation scandal and Battle of Orgreave having tarnished the reputation of the force, Mr Watson said: "I know, as does everybody else, that public confidence in South Yorkshire Police has suffered.

"I think I have the experience and the ability to offer leadership to the force and in that I'm really optimistic given that the vast, vast majority of people who work for South Yorkshire Police are good, dedicated, professional, resilient, purposeful people."

He added: "The in-tray is a bit full at the moment but, in truth, you have to start at the beginning, you have to start with 'what are we here for; what are the things the public expect of us, and are we equal to the expectations that they place upon us?'."

"The importance of our legacy cannot be overstated. The truth is that no successful organisation exists that doesn't learn lessons from the past and I'm very clear that we cannot be in a place where folks can legitimately accuse us of just not getting it, not understanding the importance of the past."

Mr Watson said he recognised lifting morale would be a critical part of his role.

"Our organisation consists of human beings and it would be very unusual if they weren't to feel a little beleaguered at the moment and some of them will feel a little tarnished by the misdeeds of those who have gone before," he added.

"I think people do feel a bit battered and bruised but actually that's bringing out in them a real spirit of positivity.

"They know that the vast majority of them do a great job and they're very eager to be able to satisfy what are perfectly legitimate public expectations of us as an organisation."