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Sympathy for Chief Constable over decision
Outgoing West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison has been described as an honourable man who has chosen to quit his job rather than cause embarrassment to his force.
John Christopher, newly-appointed chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said it was a shame the Chief Constable was going, following the furore over the recent Hillsborough disaster report.
Sir Norman, an off-duty South Yorkshire inspector at the ground on the day of the Sheffield football disaster, was criticised in the report for his role in an internal inquiry by senior South Yorkshire Police officers. He was referred last month to the Independent Police Complaints Commission over his conduct in 1989.
He further angered families of victims last month when he said the Liverpool fans' behaviour made policing the tragedy “harder than it needed to be”.
There were demands for his resignation, including from Keighley businessman Trevor Hicks, whose teenage daughters Sarah and Victoria were among the 96 people who died.
Sir Norman announced on Thursday that he would retire next March.
Mr Christopher said Sir Norman had been under intense pressure.
He said: “I am disappointed it has come to this. We have got the Police Commissioner elections coming up next month, so there is going to be a lot of upheaval in a short space of time.
“The reduction in crime is down to the working practices of Sir Norman and his command team, and I will be personally sad to see him go.
“From a policing point of view, perhaps he didn’t have to go. Being an honourable man, he has chosen to save any further embarrassment, and go.”
West Yorkshire Police Authority chairman, Councillor Mark Burns-Williamson, said it was the right decision by Sir Norman to retire.
He said: “The bottom line has to be what is best for policing in West Yorkshire. Sir Norman has been a very valued and effective Chief Constable.
“West Yorkshire is much the better for his leadership over the past six years or so, particularly the development of Neighbourhood Policing Teams throughout the county and the confidence it has generated from the public.”