Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Watson has been selected as the preferred candidate for new Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police by the Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings.

Dr Billings announced the selection decision following a challenging assessment centre and interview process, which involved representatives from a range of sectors including the National College of Policing, the South Yorkshire local authorities, the National Probation Service, a current Chief Constable and an independent representative.

Mr Watson is due to join South Yorkshire in November from Durham Constabulary where he is currently Deputy Chief Constable. He has held this position since June 2015.

After starting his career with Lancashire Constabulary in 1988, Mr Watson joined Merseyside Police in December 2006 as Chief Superintendent and has since worked for the Metropolitan Police where, as Commander for the East Area he held command of 6,250 police officers and staff.

As a senior member of the 2012 Olympic Command Team he was awarded the Commissioners Commendation in recognition of his role which involved the planning and delivery of all territorial policing across London throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In June 2015 Stephen returned to the north of England when he was appointed Deputy Chief Constable for Durham Constabulary.

Dr Billings said: “South Yorkshire Police is one of the most high profile forces in the country at the present time and I am confident that, subject to Police and Crime Panel approval, we have selected a Chief Constable who will be able to lead the force through transformational change as we continue to restore trust and confidence with our public, partners and staff.

“We assessed and interviewed three high calibre candidates who all performed exceptionally well. Mr Watson impressed us all with his experience, energy, drive and leadership qualities and I am confident that we have selected an outstanding candidate who can take the force forward, against a backdrop of continued budget pressures and scrutiny.

“Mr Watson has been an excellent Deputy Chief Constable for Durham Constabulary – a high performing force – where he has demonstrated strong and effective leadership and is very highly regarded. I congratulate him on his appointment and I look forward to working with him, and the rest of the Senior Leadership Group, to deliver a long-term strategy for policing in South Yorkshire.”

Mr Watson said: “I am delighted to have been selected as the preferred candidate for Chief Constable and am looking forward to taking up the role later this year, subject to approval from the Police and Crime Panel. I fully recognise the difficulties that the force has faced in recent times and I am committed to leading the organisation through times of change.”

Under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, Police and Crime Commissioners are responsible for selecting chief constables. Following the decision, the Commissioner must then confirm an appointment with the Police and Crime Panel.

Mr Watson’s selection will be considered by the Police and Crime Panel in a private hearing on Tuesday 28 June, where Panel members will be able to ask questions of the preferred candidate before giving its view on whether or not the candidate should be appointed.

The Chief Constable will be appointed for a five-year term.