Both candidates running for South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner want the job scrapped

Dr Billings (right) listens as he is endorsed by David Blunkett MP
Dr Billings (right) listens as he is endorsed by David Blunkett MP

Both of the candidates in the running to replace Shaun Wright as South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner want the controversial posts to be scrapped.

Labour’s Dr Alan Billings and UKIP’s Jack Clarkson have both said separately they oppose the roles – but want a suitable person in the job while it still exists.

PCCs were introduced by Home Secretary Theresa May in 2012 as a way of making forces more accountable. But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has said Labour would scrap them.

Speaking at a press conference in Sheffield yesterday, Dr Billings said while he supports the idea of the posts being axed, he is still convinced of the importance of the roles in the short-term.

“Having got them, you have to take them seriously and do a serious job until the point where they come to an end. You have to make sure the powers are used responsibly as well. It would be quite negligent for Labour to walk away even if it doesn’t support the idea,” he said.

“I see it as a two-year term. My view is we are going to get a Labour government and they will abolish it and then I go.”

Dr Billings, aged 70, from Crookes, Sheffield, is a former parish priest and deputy leader of Sheffield Council in the 1980s. He was on the shortlist to be Labour’s candidate for PCC in 2012 but Mr Wright was chosen ahead of him. He said he wants to ‘rebuild trust’ in both Labour and the police.

Mr Clarkson, 57, a current Sheffield councillor and a former police inspector, said he was also opposed to the principle of PCCs.

“While the role is there you have got to make the best of it,” he said. “I would like to see the role of PCC scrapped and I would like to see a watchdog figure instead. At the moment, it is political and policing shouldn’t really be political.”

Mr Clarkson said if elected his focus would be on catching perpetrators in Rotherham and holding senior police officers to account.

The by-election is to take place on October 30.