DORSET Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill has announced he will not be standing for re-election next year.
Mr Underhill (pictured), a former police officer and Detective Chief Inspector of Sussex Police, who retired from the force in 2009 after 30 years of service, said it was time for a “change of direction”.
Standing as an independent, he was elected Dorset’s first Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) when the role was introduced in 2012 with his ‘Keep Politics out of Policing’ campaign, and was re-elected for a second term in May 2016.
Announcing his decision to stand down at next year’s election, Mr Underhill said: “After 40 years of public service, I now feel that a change of direction is called for in my life. After two terms as the PCC for Dorset I am moving on to pastures new.
“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.
“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. I was the first ever PCC for Dorset, and I took up the role at a critical time for policing.
“I am proud I kept my independence and was able to work across political parties for the good of the people of Dorset.
“Sadly, I also took over the reins at the start of austerity and I oversaw the force into sustained cuts. I am pleased to now be leading them back out again with the Chief Constable, James Vaughan.
“In 2012, the force’s youngest police officer was 25 years old, as the Force had not recruited since 2008. Austerity was bedding in. PCSO numbers were under threat, as were police officer numbers. The Marine Section was being disbanded. The Victims Bureau, Cadet Scheme, Rural Crime and Drone Teams were all still in the ether, as was the Strategic Alliance (with Devon & Cornwall Police), Cyber Dogs and Community Speed Watch. Mental Health dominated the policing landscape.
“Seven years later, with reduced numbers, increased workload, and the force well on its way to achieving ‘outstanding’ in policing vulnerability, the force has achieved 10 out of 10 ‘good’ ratings from the HMICFRS Inspectorate. As austerity comes to an end, mental health demand is still there but has changed in nature.
“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.”