Former Norwich City Council leader Steve Morphew announced as Labour’s Norfolk PCC candidate

Former Norwich City Council leader Steve Morphew last night vowed to listen to the concerns of people living throughout the county after he was named Labour's Norfolk candidate for the role of directly elected police and crime commissioner.

Harriet Harmen, deputy leader of the Labour Party, yesterday launched the party's east of England candidates for the controversial role with Mr Morphew being joined on the campaign trail ahead of the November 15 elections by Jane Basham, who was selected as the Suffolk candidate, and Ed Murphy for Cambridgeshire.

Directly elected police commissioners, who take up office on November 22 and serve a four year term, 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. They will have the power to hire and fire chief constables, hold them to account and set forces' budgets.

But critics, including the EDP, have argued the role, with the power to hire and fire chief constables and set police budgets, will put too much power in the hands of one individual and risk politicising the police.

Mr Morphew, who will champion neighbourhood policing and oppose any privatisation of the police service, said finding out the crime concerns of people living in Norfolk - not just Norwich - would be a key part of his 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 its 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.'

Mr Morphew, who saw off a challenge from Stephen Burke, has outlined a five point plan for trying to ensure that the voice of rural communities are heard as loudly as they are in urban areas.

The plan includes developing close links with parish and town councils to help raise local views of crime prevention and policing policy and hosting regular surgeries in each district council area to enable people to speak directly with the PCC.

Mr Morphew would also want to put together an initiatives fund to provide grants to encourage crime prevention activities, assemble an innovation panel made up of rural residents to look at best ways of tackling rural crime and give support to Rural Watch and Home Watch style schemes.

Yesterday's launch also saw Jane Basham, chief executive of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality from September 2006 until April this year, named as Labour's Suffolk PCC candidate and Ed Murphy, a Peterborough City councillor, selected as the candidate for Cambridgeshire.

There is still no word on when the Conservative candidates for the East of England might be announced, but speaking yesterday following the police and crime commissioner candidate launch, Labour leader Ed Miliband, who admitted they did not want the elections, said Labour would make the 'best of a bad job'.

He said: 'We didn't seek these police commissioner elections - we thought that if you were spending �125m most people would want that money spent on the police, not on new elections. But if these elections do go ahead - if the government insists on them going ahead - we, Labour, are determined to make the best of a bad job.

'What we are going to be arguing for in these elections is very, very important.

'First of all we are going to be saying taking officers off the streets is the wrong thing to do - it's not what our communities want, it's not what the police want ...

'We are going to be arguing that we will protect the independence of the police - our police commissioner candidates are committed to that. But also crucially we'll be arguing that we want police commissioners who will work with fantastic city councils like Birmingham to say 'Whatever national government is doing let's join up to cut crime - let's work together against anti-social behaviour.'

<Panel 1>

Labour's East of England police and crime commissioner candidates

Norfolk: Steve Morphew

Steve Morphew stepped down at the local elections in May last year having completed five years as leader of Norwich City Council, nine as the leader of the Labour Group, 11 as councillor for Mile Cross and before that, four years for Nelson ward.

Mr Morphew, who later became Norwich Labour Party president, has spent 20 years as a full time-officer for NALGO/UNISON in East Anglia and 17 years as a consultant in human resources and people management to charities and not for profit organisations.

Born in Tottenham, he is married to Maggie Wheeler and has two children by a previous relationship.

Suffolk: Jane Basham

The Labour Party candidate for Suffolk's police and crime commissioner was chief executive of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality from September 2006 until April this year.

Prior to that she was a director at the Suffolk-based Equal Two consultancy which offered a wide range of approaches that are tailor- made for integrating equality, diversity and inclusion into the day-to-day business of organisations.

The former Suffolk College student also worked as a personnel manager for Suffolk Constabulary between 1996 and 2002.

Cambridgeshire: Ed Murphy

Ed Murphy is a Peterborough City councillor and former chair of the Joint Cambridgeshire District and County Crime Reduction Panel. When a Cambridgeshire County councillor he was the Labour and Co-operative Group spokesperson for Cambridgeshire Constabulary, responsible for setting budgets and recruiting a chief constable and deputy chief constables.

He was Labour's Parliamentary candidate for Peterborough at the 2010 General Election and is currently a governor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust.

<Panel 2>

Police commissioners...The story so far.

Directly elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs) are a key part of the government's radical new vision for policing which, we are told, will see 'remote and invisible' police authorities scrapped.

The government insist PCCs, an integral part of the coalition's Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, will transfer power to the people.

They will also, according to policing minister Nick Herbert, put those living in Norfolk firmly 'in the driving seat' on the way their constabulary is run.

But critics argue the role puts too much power in the hands of one individual and risk politicising the police.

Initially, elections for PCCs were to be held last month, coinciding with local elections, but they were postponed until November after a compromise struck by the Tories with the Lib Dems who were worried councillors might suffer if local election campaigns rested on law and order.

Labour yesterday announced its candidates for the East of England but so far other major political parties, including the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, have yet to reveal their candidates for Norfolk.

Independent candidates are believed to include Mervyn Lambert, who runs a Garboldisham-based plant hire, sales, rental and servicing firm.

The Home Office has revealed that October 19 is the closing date for those wanting to put their name forward for the elections which take place on November 15.

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