The South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner has established an Independent Policing Protests Advisory Panel to work with South Yorkshire Police in the planning and learning stages of managing protests and marches.

Dr Alan Billings asked for the Advisory Panel following a recommendation in a report into the engagement of South Yorkshire Police with communities following the protest in Rotherham on 5 September.

The Panel will be chaired by Andrew Lockley, Chair of the Independent Ethics Panel, who was also author of the original report that was published on the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s website on 1 March 2016:

Supporting Andrew will be six other members who have been drawn from the existing Independent Ethics Panel and the Independent Minority Communities Advisory Panel.

These are: Abdul Khayum, Chair of the Minority Communities Panel, Sahir Ali and Renata Atkins, both members of the Minority Communities Panel and Michael Lewis and Linda Christon, Independent Ethics Panel members.

The Panel will convene to provide advice to South Yorkshire Police when a group indicates it will be protesting on any issue within South Yorkshire. Members will support the Force by offering comment on proposals for handling the event and work with them in advance of any protest, as well as being in attendance to observe on the day and helping to learn lessons from the event and make recommendations for managing future protests. The intention is for the Force to learn from Panel advice but the Panel will not make decisions on operational matters.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said:” In looking at the recommendations of Andrew Lockley’s report I felt that Andrew would be the best person to Chair this new Panel, supported  by colleagues from my existing advisory panels.

“The members that have been appointed represent a cross-section of our communities from across South Yorkshire and I expect them to be able to bring knowledge and expertise to make recommendations regardless of the objective of the planned protests.

“For some time now there have been a number of protestors travelling regularly to Rotherham to protest against the Force’s handling of child sexual exploitation matters. Last Saturday members of the Panel assisted with the arrangements for the EDL protest for the first time. In the future we don’t know what issues might be the subject of protests or where they might be in the county. This new panel with its diverse membership should be able to assist and advise when necessary.”