Keep politics out of policing says former detective chief inspector Martyn Underhill

9:00am Sunday 4th March 2012

By Diana Henderson

Keep politics out of policing – that’s the plea of a retired top cop who intends to throw his hat in the ring to become Dorset’s elected Police Commissioner.

Former detective chief inspector Martyn Underhill, who lives in Poole, intends to stand for election as Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) on November 15.

“I want the public to have a choice, away from politicians,” said Mr Underhill, 53, who backs the role of PCC, which he says is “huge”.

With 30 years of fighting crime under his belt – five years with the Metropolitan Police and the rest with Sussex police – he is convinced that an independent commissioner is the best option.

Mr Underhill, who led the high profile inquiry into the murder of Sarah Payne, right, and whose expertise led to his involvement in the Soham murders and that of Millie Dowler, has joined forces with Falklands veteran Simon Weston, who is standing for South Wales Commissioner.

“We only have to look at London and America to see politics and policing is a disaster,” he said.

“I’m absolutely convinced that the people of Dorset need a non political commissioner who values the wishes of the community and can balance that against financial restraint, to create a realistic policing plan that keeps the people of Dorset safe, and improves the outcomes of the lives of the people of Dorset.”

He moved to Dorset three years ago and is a consultant to ITN News and BBC Newsnight, a guest lecturer at Portsmouth and Bournemouth Universities and part-time teacher at two language schools, he is a lay member of the local safeguarding children’s board, does voluntary work and is involved in a number of local organisations.

Paul Morris, Borough of Poole’s returning officer who will be running the election for five police forces in the south-west said the deadline for nominations would be in October.

Voice of the people

PCCs will not be expected to run the police, their role is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account.

They will have responsibility for: l Appointing the chief constable l Setting a five-year police and crime plan l Setting the annual precept and force budget l Making grants to organisations such as community safety partnerships Elections will take place every four years. Candidates have to stump up £5,000 and get five per cent of the vote, get 100 people to sign their nomination form and there is no free mailshot of electoral material.

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