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West Yorkshire police chief Sir Norman Bettison to retire in March
West Yorkshire's Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison says he will retire next year amid pressure to resign in the wake of the Hillsborough report.
As part of the announcement last night he said “crime is down and public confidence is up” and he added that the record of his leadership “will speak for itself”.
The announcement he will retire on March 31 comes after recent demands from victims’ families, including those in Keighley, that he should go.
But Keighley Conservative MP Kris Hopkins said he will be “disappointed” if Sir Norman is still in his high-ranking post by March.
“He hasn’t resigned at all, he has only announced his retirement at his own convenience. There’s an enormous amount of pressure and there’s an inquiry going on and I hope he gets an opportunity to contribute fully to that.”
Sir Norman was referred to the police watchdog, the IPCC, last month over his conduct following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 when he was an off-duty South Yorkshire Police inspector and later took part in an internal inquiry.
After the report into the football tragedy was published, the Telegraph & Argus reported demands for Sir Norman’s resignation from Keighley businessman Trevor Hicks whose two teenagers daughters died in the disaster.
Sarah and Victoria were among the 96 lives lost – another victim was Tony Bland from Keighley who spent more than three years in a persistent vegetative state after his brain was starved of oxygen. He died in 1993 after his parents won a legal battle to allow a life-sustaining feeding tube to be removed.
Mr Hicks had told the T&A that Sir Norman should “take a look at his own position” after a damning report laid bare a shocking cover-up which attempted to shift the blame for the April 1989 tragedy onto its victims.
The Hillsborough Independent Panel, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool the Right Rev James Jones, revealed South Yorkshire Police had made “strenuous attempts” to deflect the blame for the disaster onto innocent fans.
The panel's report also said 41 of the 96 who died could have potentially been saved if they had received treatment earlier.
In a statement last night Sir Norman (left) said: “My term of appointment with West Yorkshire Police was due to end in January of this year, but was extended with the approval of the Police Authority and Home Secretary. However, recent weeks have caused me to reflect on what is best for the future of policing in West Yorkshire and I have now decided to set a firm date for my retirement. I have offered this proposal to my police authority.”
And he added: “I hope it will enable the Independent Police Complaints Commission to fully investigate allegations that have been raised about my integrity. They need to be fairly and fully investigated and I welcome this independent and formal scrutiny.
“The record of my leadership of West Yorkshire Police will speak for itself. Crime is down and public confidence is up.”