Dorset Police commissioner Martyn Underhill to quit in 2020

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Martyn Underhill
Police and crime commissioner Martyn Underhill (left) has worked alongside Dorset Chief Constable James Vaughan

DORSET Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill has announced he will not seek re-election to the role in 2020 after serving two terms.

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He confirmed his decision a day after appealing to Dorset residents to back his proposal that average properties in the county should pay £1.25 extra towards the costs of the force in its share of the council tax.

“After two terms as the PCC for Dorset I am moving on to pastures new,” the first ever PCC for Dorset wrote in a letter to residents across the county.

“I am keen to identify new challenges and new opportunities at a local and national level, and to build on my local charity work, and my role as a lay canon for the Salisbury Diocese.”

Mr Underhill was first elected as PCC in 2012, when he stood as an independent candidate. In 2016 he retained his post, beating Conservative rival Andrew Graham.

The next election for the PCC role is in 2020 and Mr Underhill’s seven-year spell has seen him preside over a period when Dorset Police has had to endure government cuts.

During his previous policing career Mr Underhill was a detective chief inspector with Sussex Police and worked on high-profile investigations, including the murder of schoolgirl Sarah Payne in 2000.

Reflecting on his time as Dorset PCC, Mr Underhill said: “There is no doubt about it. My seven years working with Dorset Police has been eventful. I feel I can leave with my head held high.”

Acknowledging it had been a “critical time” for policing, he continued: “I am proud I kept my independence and was able to work across political parties for the good of the people of Dorset.”

Hailing his own achievements, Mr Underhill claimed when he first took up the role in 2012 the youngest officer on the force was 25, and he had removed the threat to PCSO numbers and several units including the marine section, victim’s bureau and rural crime teams.

The force has achieved 10 out of 10 ‘good’ ratings ratings from the national inspectorate, he said, and was “well on its way” to achieving ‘outstanding’ in policing vulnerability.

However, during his time in the post he received criticism for employing a costly deputy, Colin Pipe, while the force was having to deal with cuts and despite him previously promising he would not do so.

There was also embarrassment when a proposed merger Mr Underhill had pushed for with Devon and Cornwall Police failed to go through.

Turning to the future, Mr Underhill went on: “None of us know what the new government has in store for policing, but I do know I leave Dorset Police as a good organisation that punches above its weight.

“Having said that, I have six months of office remaining, and there is much more to do. I will continue to focus on the job at hand and will be publishing a review of my second term around April next year.

“Please look out for it, and in the meanwhile I thank my team for all that they do and you not only for your support over the past seven years, but also for your continued support of Dorset Police.”

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