Former Norwich council leader in running to be Norfolk’s first police and crime commissioner

Former Norwich City Council leader Steve Morphew, left, is in the running to become Norfolk's first directly elected police commissioner (PCC) after being selected as a candidate by the Labour Party.

Directly elected police commissioners, to be elected in England and Wales in November, will oversee the work of police, which ministers say will make forces more accountable.

The government says commissioners, paid �70,000 and covering each of the forces in England and Wales, will create a more in-touch police service, better equipped to deal with people's concerns.

Commissioners, who will replace 'remote and invisible' police authorities, will have the power to hire and fire chief constables, hold them to account and set forces' budgets.

Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour Party, yesterday announced candidates for the East of England at an event in Cambridge, where Mr Morphew, currently Norwich Labour Party president, was formally revealed as Norfolk's candidate.

Mr Morphew, who stepped down at the local elections in May last year, having completed five years as leader of Norwich City Council, has pledged to champion neighbourhood policing as part of his PCC campaign.

He said: 'I'm delighted to have been selected and as much as people will be aware of my reservations about the police and crime commissioner idea, I think its an important opportunity for us to really get to grips with anti-social behaviour for the long term.

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'I think my campaign will be about a dialogue rather than a diatribe. I'm not going to pretend I'm anything other than a Labour politician, but I want to have a proper debate about all parts of the county as to what processes and priorities there ought to be because this is a Norfolk role and it is Norfolk people who should decide what the priorities are.'

After 15 years as a city councillor and five years as council leader Mr Morphew is a familiar figure with the voting public in Norwich, but he said he would be doing his utmost during the campaign to ensure he raised his profile elsewhere in the county.

He said: 'I want to make sure that people understand that everyone in the county is important wherever they live, and just because my roots have been in Norwich, it doesn't mean to say I haven't been interested in the rest of Norfolk – and now is the chance for me to go out and prove it.

'I based my call for support on my commitment to the peace of mind for all Norfolk residents regardless of where they live – rural, urban, coastal, market town or city, or how well off they are.

'We all deserve peace of mind and that's the message I want to take to the county. In the coming months I will be meeting as many people as I can – individuals, communities, parish and town councils, organisations interested in preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and supporting victims.'

When he stepped down from Norwich City Council last year, Mr Morphew had spent nine years as the leader of the Labour Group, 11 as councillor for Mile Cross and before that, four years for Nelson ward.

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