Judgment day looms for candidates hoping to be Conservative nominee for Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner role

PUBLISHED: 16:41 27 July 2012

Norfolk Police Officers. Picture: Ian Burt

Norfolk Police Officers. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2012

Norfolk Conservatives make their choice for the controversial role of Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) tomorrow. Crime correspondent PETER WALSH looks at each of the candidates.

How it works

Each candidate will give a three-minute presentation as to why they want to be the candidate, before being asked 10 minutes of pre-agreed questions then 10 minutes of open questions, after which the candidate will be given two minutes to sum up.

At the end of the interviews those registered to vote will be handed a ballot paper.

The primaries take place at 10am in Norwich and 3.30pm in Swaffham.

A preferential voting system, where the favourite candidate will be ranked with a 1 and least favourite a 4, will be used, meaning the person with the lowest number across the two primaries will win.

Steve Morphew, Norfolk’s Labour candidate for the role of elected police and crime commissioner will be among those keeping a watchful eye on open primaries taking place in Norwich and Swafffham tomorrow.

Saturday is judgment day for the four shortlisted Conservatives looking to be named as Norfolk’s Tory candidate for the role and then go head to head with Mr Morphew for the chance of becoming the county’s first PCC when he or she is elected in November.

Brandon Lewis, Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth, has urged the people of Norfolk to take the chance have their say.

He said: “It is Norfolk’s chance to have a real say on who we pick to be our candidate and for that candidate to then have the mandate to go on to win in November.”

The four shortlisted candidates are:

Stephen Bett

Mr Bett, who lives in Thornham, near Hunstanton, is currently chairman of Norfolk Police Authority which, like other authorities throughout the country, is to be replaced by PCCs in November.

He is a Conservative county councillor for North Coast Division and has been a county council member of the Police Authority since 1996.

He was vice-chairman of Norfolk Police Authority from 1999 to 2005 and was elected chairman in June 2005. He has remained in post ever since. He was re-elected for 2011/12.

Mr Bett’s reason for joining the authority was to contribute towards ensuring Norfolk was a safe place to live and work.

In addition to being police authority chairman, he has chaired the Property and ICT Committee from 2001 to 2005 and the Professional Standards and HR Committee from 1998 to 2004.

He has been on the Senior Officers Executive Panel since 2007 and is chairman of the Strategic Development Group and of the Protective Services Board.

He is also a member of the Eastern Region Counter Terrorism Committee and Protective Services Lead.

Paul Rice

Mr Rice is a Conservative county councillor for South Smallburgh who defected from the Lib Dems last year.

Originally from Essex, Mr Rice worked in retail (toy/model trade) from 1976 for eight years and spent time in estate agency before becoming full time Parks Police Officer, moving to City of London as a Forest Constable until early 2000s.

He then moved to Norfolk to start his own business and joined Norfolk Special Constabulary, where he was a special until 2008, and also worked in the police control room.

A parish councillor for Potter Heigham, Mr Rice has been a county councillor since 2009. He also sits on the Fire and Rescue Overview Scrutiny Panel, A47 Alliance, Planning, is vice-chairman of the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education and a member of the Broads Authority.

Simon Woodbridge

Mr Woodbridge, a former leader of Broadland District Council, is a Conservative district councillor for Great Witchingham and Broadland’s member champion for Crime Prevention and Community Safety.

Born and educated in Norfolk, Mr Woodbridge, who lives in Taverham, served in the 1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, before returning to civilian life to raise a family.

Mr Woodbridge, who owns Canham Hill Cemetery, was elected to Broadland District Council and became leader of the council for 10 years.

After gaining a detailed knowledge of crime management from serving six years as a member of the Norfolk Probation Service, Mr Woodbridge spearheaded a crime prevention initiative, Stairway Out of Crime, in conjunction with the UEA.

James Athill

Mr Athill was brought up at Morston on the North Norfolk coast. He was educated at Gresham’s School before a career in the army, which he left last year as a colonel. Mr Athill then travelled the world as an infantry officer in leadership, management and training positions, serving with British and Gurkha soldiers, before specialising in defence diplomacy, working in embassy and operational appointments in the Ministry of Defence, the Middle East, South-East Asia and Central Europe.

He lives at Gateley with his wife, Mojan, and three children. He enjoys boats, the marsh and history.

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