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Dorset's PCC taking step back from national commitments

Martyn Underhill

6:13pm 11th October 2017
(Updated 10:39am 12th October 2017)

A combination of factors has led Police & Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill to take a step back from his national commitments.

After careful consideration, Deputy PCC Colin Pipe has taken a decision to retire from the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) due to ill health. 

PCC Martyn Underhill said: “Colin has been a valued advocate for my office over the past two and a half years and I wish him well in his retirement. With his oversight, the 101 Service Improvement Panel has delivered changes which have been felt by the public. Over half of participants in our recent summer consultation rated the quality of the service they received in the last year as 7 out of 10 or above. Colin has also put in place a solid foundation upon which the upcoming changes to the police complaints process can be built.”

“In particular, I am grateful to Colin for stepping in as acting PCC when my wife fell seriously ill last year, to ensure that residents continued to benefit from an effective police service, with proper scrutiny and governance.”

The Commissioner’s wife continues to recover and this is another reason why he would like to limit additional commitments that take him outside of the county.

The OPCC is not seeking a replacement deputy commissioner at this time. Rather, PCC Martyn Underhill has opted to reduce the number of national portfolio areas that he is engaged with in order to spend more time focusing on local issues.

The PCC continued: “I will continue to represent my constituents in priority areas. For instance, Dorset’s population has a high proportion of older people who are statistically more likely to be victims of fraud. I will stay closely involved with the Home Secretary’s Fraud Taskforce Oversight Board and the Action Fraud agenda. Additionally, I will continue assisting the National Rural Crime Network in addressing issues that affect a large proportion of Dorset’s communities.”

“However, I am withdrawing from other national activity with the College of Policing and Association of Police & Crime Commissioners (APCC). After nearly five years as the APCC lead on Mental Health, I am passing the baton to my highly capable deputy lead, PCC Matthew Scott, who I am confident will bring fresh-thinking and vigour to the role.”

Under the Commissioner’s leadership, the police service has worked with partners to significantly reduce the number of times a custody suite is used as a place of safety for those suffering a mental health crisis. This has been achieved through bespoke training programmes to help officers recognise the signs of mental health crisis, new street triage services where health practitioners advise frontline officers and the introduction of the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat.

The Commissioner concluded: “I am proud of the achievements I have contributed to nationally, but my role in Dorset comes first. The chief constables of Dorset and Devon & Cornwall Police have recently announced their intention to explore the possibility of a merger. This will require a business case, public consultation and thorough PCC scrutiny to ensure the interests of constituents are fully represented throughout. 

“Against this backdrop, and with Colin’s departure, it is right that local issues are my primary focus and I am excited about devoting even more effort towards improving experiences of policing and crime for Dorset residents.”

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