South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings has launched his new Independent Ethics Panel.

The panel has been established to oversee policing and increase public trust and confidence in the way police officers carry out their duties. It will encourage greater public scrutiny of police operations.

Chief Constable, David Crompton has given his full support to the Panel, which will provide independent and effective challenge and assurance around integrity, standards and ethics of decision-making in policing.

The Panel consists of five independent members and will meet quarterly. It is chaired by Andrew Lockley, a Sheffield-based solicitor and is made up of four other members:  Linda Christon, Ann Macaskill, Mohammad Ismail and Michael Lewis. They each bring with them a wealth of skills and experience which they will use to help improve transparency, accountability and trust in South Yorkshire Police.

A national Code of Ethics was written for all police forces earlier in July 2014. It has been adopted by South Yorkshire Police and the Office of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner. The Independent Ethics Panel will support and monitor work to embed the Code across all the functions and activities of the Force, and also those within the Commissioner’s office.

Andrew Lockley, Chair of the Independent Ethics Panel, said: “Our priority has to be to improve the public’s trust in South Yorkshire Police. The launch of the Independent Ethics Panel makes an explicit and public commitment to transparent and ethical policing that will be subject to rigorous scrutiny. The Ethics Panel will act as a sounding-board for police initiatives and also for proposed action in particular circumstances.

“Due to a number of significant historic and current issues in South Yorkshire, the promotion of ethical standards is paramount to ensure that we learn from the systemic failings of the past.

“The Panel will work with the Chief Constable and his force to support efforts to prevent these mistakes recurring in the future.”

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I hope that the Independent Ethics Panel it will enhance relations between the public and the police by promoting better understanding on both sides.

“In light of  the high profile Hillsborough Inquests, the Professor Jay report into child sex exploitation and the policing of the miners’ strike there are many lessons to be learnt and we need to ensure that they inform the way in which policing is carried out in the future.”

The Panel will have no decision making powers, although they will be able to make recommendations to the Commissioner and the Chief Constable.