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South Yorkshire chief is preferred choice to head up GMP

National crime prevention lead ?has proven record in improving performance? says Mayor
Published - 24/03/2021 By - Gary Mason

The preferred candidate for chief of GMP is South Yorkshire’s Steve Watson who heads up the only force in England and Wales assessed as ‘outstanding’ in respect of ethical and lawful leadership.

If Mayor Andy Burnham’s choice is ratified by the Police Crime and Fire Panel later this week, CC Watson will take up the vacancy which arose when Ian Hopkins suddenly left the troubled force following a highly critical report by HMICFRS at the end of last year.

The report showed that the force had failed to record more than 80,000 offences and it became the second force in the country to be placed on special measures.

It has also experienced major difficulties caused by the delayed introduction of its iOPS computer system which services most of GMP's day-to-day activities.

Under CC Watson South Yorkshire has been rated by HMICFRS as the most improved force in the country for three consecutive years.

He holds the national lead for Crime Prevention and is the chair of the National Counter Corruption Advisory Group.

His formal management qualifications include a Master's Degree in Business Administration.

Prior to joining South Yorkshire, he gained experience in Lancashire and Merseyside before working at the Metropolitan Police in London, including as a senior member of the 2012 Olympic Command Team for which he was awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation.

In 2011, he was appointed Metropolitan Police Commander for the East Area, with responsibility for all aspects of operational policing across nine London boroughs. This area is home to over 2.3 million Londoners and he held command of 6,250 police officers and staff with a total operating budget of £325 million.

During his time in London, as a qualified firearms and public order commander Watson regularly performed Gold Command roles in several high-profile policing operations and critical incidents, including a fatal helicopter crash in central London and in working with partner agencies across East London to restore public confidence in the aftermath of the 2011 riots.

In June 2015 he was appointed Deputy Chief Constable for Durham Constabulary and a year later took up his appointment as Chief Constable at South Yorkshire Police.

Following interviews earlier this week Chief Constable Watson received the support of Mr Burnham and Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire.

A report outlining the preferred choice for Chief Constable will go to the Greater Manchester Police, Crime and Fire Panel which meets at the end of this week. The preferred candidate will present to the Panel, which will then discuss and vote on whether to ratify the nomination.

Mr Burnham said: “This has been a challenging period for Greater Manchester Police but I am confident that we have found the right person to lead the force into a new era.

“Chief Constable Watson has a proven record of improving police performance and establishing the positive, accountable, victim-centred culture that I have said I want to see. I hope the Panel will support our recommendation and open a new chapter for policing in Greater Manchester.”

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