Under-fire South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner (PCC) Dr Alan Billings passed the litmus test of public opinion today — at the ballot box.
Still in a job: Dr Alan Billings
The Labour PCC candidate held on to his job despite a series of controversies over the Hillsborough disaster, the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal and calls for an inquiry into the 'Battle of Orgreave'.
As polling day approached, families of the Hillsborough victims called on him to resign for “failing to hold the force to account” over the way it conducted the latest inquests into the catastrophe which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool football fans.
The former priest, who brought pastoral support to the injured at Britain's worst sporting disaster in 1989, has been re-elected to the post with more than 50 per cent of the first preference vote.
He received 144,978 votes with Conservative Ian Walker next on 29,904 votes. Twice the number of voters turned out for the latest poll to elect the PCC in South Yorkshire compared to the last ballot.
In his acceptance speech, Dr Billings said he hopes South Yorkshire Police — which saw three senior officers hold the post of chief constable in less than a week following the fall-out from the Hillsborough inquests — can become one of the best forces in the country.
In aiming for an "exemplary" force despite a tidal wave of criticism, he promised: “Whatever these issues are, we have to face them, understand them, understand what the lessons are to be learned and take it forward from there.”
Dr Billings has held the PCC reins for less than two years after the man elected as first police and commissioner — Shaun Wright — stepped down in September 2014 following weeks of pressure over a report into child abuse in Rotherham.
The Alexis Jay Report revealed that more than 1,400 children in the town had been sexually exploited by gangs of men.
Mr Wright had been the councillor who oversaw Rotherham's children's services between 2005 and 2010.Click here for results service