Changes to the Membership of the Commissioner’s Independent Ethics Panel

After five years of supporting the Police and Crime Commissioner to provide scrutiny and effective challenge of South Yorkshire Police the membership of the Independent Ethics Panel is due to change as members, including the Chair, come to the end of their terms of office.

This week, Andrew Lockley took part in his final meeting as Chair along with Imam Sheikh Mohammad Ismail.

The Police and Crime Commissioner’s Independent Ethics Panel was established to provide independent scrutiny, challenge and assurance around the integrity, standards and ethics of decision making within policing in South Yorkshire in order to increase public trust and confidence in the way police officers carry out their duties.

During the last five years the Panel has scrutinised the performance of South Yorkshire Police in areas including Stop and Search, the Use of Force and the handling of Hate Crime.

It has also undertaken in depth reviews of the Professional Standards Department complaints information, the Force’s community engagement in relation to the far right protests in Rotherham, the protests against tree felling in Sheffield, the ethical issues in relation to body worn video cameras and more recently, the approach to Covid19 policing.

Sheffield-based solicitor Andrew Lockley has been Chair of the Panel for the last five years and has led the Panel’s work and scrutinised police functions objectively, yet supportively, ensuring the Panel provides the role of ‘critical friend’.

Mr Lockley said: “The role of this Panel has been unique in policing and I am honoured to have been entrusted to be a part of that.

“During my leadership my priority has been to ensure the Panel maintains its independence and objectivity and I have been impressed by the ability of our members to make robust challenges in the scrutiny of those areas of policing that impact upon our communities.

“The Force itself has been open and willing with its transparency and has opened itself up to scrutiny. It has improved considerably over the last three years and is rated as ‘good’ in all areas by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services and ‘outstanding’ at developing and maintaining an ethical culture. Myself and my fellow panel members are proud to have served on the panel at this time and to support the Police and Crime Commissioner in the crucial role of holding the Force to account.”

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The Panel has played a crucial role in the significant journey that South Yorkshire Police has been on and helping to increase public trust and confidence in its work.

“I thank Andrew Lockley and Mohammad Ismail for their commitment and input into the Independent Ethics Panel. They have both carried out their roles with enthusiasm and professionalism as well as wholly independently and I have immensely valued their input and the contributions and wish them both well in their future endeavours.”

Chief Constable Stephen Watson gave personal thanks to the departing members for their work which he said they had carried out thoroughly and with independence.

“We all care about what we do, we care about the public and we care that what we do is done to the very best of standards. Your contribution is well received. You have made a real difference and positively influenced that way that we as a force do business” said Chief Constable Watson.

Professor Ann Macaskill, one of the original panel members, has been appointed Interim Chair of the Panel until May 2020 and will be joined by Michael Lewis who will also be continuing his role alongside Janet Wheatley (appointed last year).

New members are currently being recruited.

The Independent Ethics Panel meets five times a year and includes the Deputy Chief Constable, Mark Roberts and officers and staff from South Yorkshire Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. The Chair reports on a bi-monthly basis to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Public Accountability Board.