A former police officer has been chosen as the Conservative candidate for next May’s police and crime commissioner election in Nottinghamshire.
Tony Harper, 56, was born and bred in Hucknall and began his policing career in 1975 as a cadet, rising to acting chief inspector over the next 35 years.
The father of two was selected by Conservative Party members following a Hustings at Epperstone Village Hall.
He said: “It is a great honour for me, as the son of a Hucknall miner, to have come this far and I hope it shows that with a bit of hard work, no matter your background, anything can be achieved.
“I have spent 35 years in frontline policing, solving crimes and helping communities, and it is important that we have a police and crime commissioner who is fully experienced and knowledgeable in this field.
“It is also essential we have a commissioner who can work with Government to get the best possible deal for Nottinghamshire rather than someone who just shouts from the sidelines.”
Since 2010 Nottinghamshire police has been tasked to find £43m in savings. A quarter of the county’s police community support officers will be cut despite 21,000 people calling for an increase in council tax to keep them. The force is set to reduce the number of PCSOs to 251 from 331, with 44 people facing redundancy.
Nottinghamshire’s current police and crime commissioner Paddy Tipping, who promised to increase the number of PCSOs when he was elected in 2012, said he had been forced to reduce them because of Government cuts.
Mr Harper said: “We have a national deficit. I believe that the police should receive their fair share of cuts. I think most people are in favour of balancing the books. But I don’t think the police force should be cut disproportionately.”
He believes savings can be found by replacing PCSOs with special constables in response to calls for more neighbourhood policing and improved response policing.
He added: “I am passionate about policing. I have invested 35 years of my life into it, I would be the last person to try and dismantle the police service. It is safe in my hands.”
Responding to criticism of the £75,000 role of the commissioner, which was created in 2012 to secure the efficient and effective policing of a police area, he said: “Commissioners have replaced police authorities - which were made up of magistrates and councillors not directly elected for that role. The system of having a commissioner is much more democratic and costs no more than having an authority.”
The new candidate, who retired in 2011, has gained experience of many different types of policing - from fighting organised crime to road and neighbourhood police work.
Mr Harper has also worked for national crime prevention charity – ‘Crimebeat’ – and helped disadvantaged young people as part of the Princes Trust.
He now lives in Watnall and is currently a Broxtowe district councillor representing Eastwood and sits on the Nottinghamshire police and crime panel.
He is also a member of a number of local charities – including Age Concern – and has raised money for Children in Need.
In his spare time, he enjoys walking and keeping fit and has even run the New York Marathon.