Dr Alan Billings, attended a meeting of the Unite trade union held in Doncaster’s Trades and Labour Club on Friday evening. It was a very frank meeting and members were forthright in their questioning of the Commissioner.
Dr Billings spoke about the issues facing the police and also the new policing model that will be introduced in the Doncaster district next month.
He acknowledged that the number of police officers across South Yorkshire had fallen by about 600 since 2010 and that if reductions in government grant were as severe in the next parliament as they had been in the last, it would be impossible to avoid further staff cuts – because 85% of the funding was spent on personnel.
He said: “By combining the current uniformed response teams and neighbourhood teams into one Local Policing Team and requiring them to have a neighbourhood focus, we can ensure that more police officers will be present and visible in the community this coming year than in the immediate past.”
Dr Billings also said that he remained focussed on the need to ensure that the full extent of child sexual exploitation had been uncovered.
He said: “That is why I am commissioning an inspection of the whole force area – so that I can be sure that we understand the full extent of this in Doncaster, Sheffield and Barnsley as well as Rotherham.”
He went on to explain that he had increased the number of officers dealing with CSE and had set up a panel of victims and survivors to advise him.
Members asked when the results of the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into Orgreave would be known. Dr Billings said he had been told the report had been written, but it was up to the IPCC to release it. He deplored the length of time this was taking.
He said: “I have now met several miners who were involved at Orgreave and they are not getting any younger. They are owed a proper explanation for what happened that day, especially those that suffered injuries.”