Tories choose Navy man for commissioner bid

An experienced former military commander has been selected as the Conservative candidate for Devon and Cornwall's first ever police and crime commissioner election in November.

The party held three open "primaries" – at which anyone was free to register and vote – culminating in Saturday's meeting in Plymouth.

Tony Hogg, the former commanding officer of RNAS Culdrose, near Helston in West Cornwall, was selected as the Tory candidate ahead of Torbay Councillor Alison Hernandez and former prison officer Paul Biddle, from Honiton.

More than 500 people attended the debates, which were also staged in Exeter and Fraddon, in Mid Cornwall. The breakdown of the vote, in which people were asked to rank the candidates, has not been released.

Mr Hogg, a former commodore, said: "I am honoured to have been selected by the Conservative party to be their candidate for this election.

"Police and crime commissioners are a new role, but will ensure that the public have a direct say in local policing priorities for the first time.

"I want to cut crime by bringing policing closer to the people, but I also want to boost morale in the police at a time of great change.

"Over the next few months I hope to meet as many residents as possible from both Devon and Cornwall to hear about their concerns and experiences and to start developing the building blocks of a community-led plan to cut crime."

Mr Hogg, who managed 3,000 personnel and an annual budget of £80 million at RNAS Culdrose, was widely regard-ed as the favourite for the nomination.

He captained five ships during his naval career, including HMS Chatham based at Devonport. He also spent several years as the chief executive of BF Adventure, a Cornish charity which uses outdoor pursuits to help turn around the lives of young people at risk of exclusion from school.

Each of the candidates were asked set questions during the "primaries" before being quizzed by members of the audience.

One of the key issues was last week's report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary which said Devon and Cornwall Police was "at risk" of not providing a "sufficiently efficient or effective service".

Crime has risen while the force has lost hundreds of officers in order to meet £51 million budget cuts.

Mr Hogg told the meeting at Exeter: "I am sure we can do more with the numbers than the current chief constable thinks we can."

The commissioners will replace current police authorities and were introduced by the Government to increase accountability in policing.

They will have the power to "hire and fire" chief constables, decide the level of police precept – part of council tax – and determine the strategic policing plan. The chief constable will maintain operational independence.

Mr Hogg will face Labour's Plymouth councillor Nicky Williams in the November ballot, while the Liberal Democrats have indicated they will contest the election but have yet to name their candidate.

Western Morning News