Dorchester residents grill county's police and crime commissioner

Dorset Echo: answering questions: PCC Martyn Underhill holding forum in Dorchester answering questions: PCC Martyn Underhill holding forum in Dorchester

DORSET Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill faced a grilling from Dorchester residents and community leaders at a forum.

Among the questions asked of the Dorset PCC as he explained his role was: “Do you think you’re value for money?”

Mr Underhill held the forum at the Dorset Youth Association in Lubbecke Way.

He replied: “I’m no more expensive than the police authority was, and they were arguably invisible. I’m doing three jobs instead of one.”

Those who attended the event – including councillors, residents, faith leaders and people representing neighbourhood watch schemes – were asked questions ranging from how they felt about the safety of the county town to what they thought of new schemes such as police body cameras and the proposed creation of forums where community leaders would dish out penalties to those who admit low-level anti-social behaviour.

Neighbourhood Sergeant for Dorchester and Sherborne Rachel Goodwin also spoke about the work of her team and was on hand to answer questions.

She said: “We have received a lot of complaints about noise, vehicle noise and anti-social behaviour in the Market Car Park and that has been a priority for some months.

“My team have been working very hard and the council have agreed to close the car park at 10pm.

“They are very specific issues which we try to address as best we can.”

Questions were asked about the desk sergeant at Dorchester Police Station and the use of tasers in the town.

Sergeant Goodwin said the person who manned the front desk is off on Sundays and Mondays and there may not be a person in the office if the officer is called out.

Replying to the question on use of tasers, Mr Underhill said he had received a number of complaints and he would raise the issue with the Chief Constable.

Mr Underhill described the forums as a chance for him to meet as many people in the community as possible, particularly older people.

The over-50 age group makes up one in three people in Dorset, he added, and engaging with them is his ‘biggest challenge’.

Speaking after the event, Dorchester Town Councillor Molly Rennie said: “It’s great that people were invited to come here and engage and realise the sort of work the PCC does.

“Whether you think it’s a good role or not, it’s here to stay, and it’s a great opportunity for people to ask questions.”

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