DORSET’S police and crime commissioner is stepping down from the role – days after asking residents to pay an extra £1.25 per month so the force can recruit 50 new officers.

Martyn Underhill announced yesterday he will not stand for re-election in May 2020 for a third term as PCC.

He said he feels a “change of direction is called for” and will look to build on his charity work, as well as his role as a lay canon for the Salisbury Diocese.

“My seven years working with Dorset Police has been eventful. I feel I can leave with my head held high,” he said.

“I am proud I kept my independence and was able to work across political parties for the good of the people of Dorset.”

The news comes days after Mr Underhill proposed to increase the precept. The £1.25 figure is based on a band D property and remains subject to funding announcements from central government which were delayed as a result of the general election.

Mr Underhill said: “Although this situation is far from ideal, it is essential that I take a prudent approach and make sure the force is able to deliver a balanced budget.

“A key part of my role is to understand the views of Dorset’s communities, so rather than rush through this important piece of engagement at a later date, I am basing this year’s survey on what the force currently requires to make ends meet.

“While of course I welcome recent announcements of extra police officers, I need to make sure the force can pay for them in the long term and that has also been taken into consideration.”

Mr Underhill added: “Dorset Police is faced with the additional costs of nationally agreed salary increases and pension liabilities, as well as new training and recruitment requirements, all of which means that simply providing the current service will cost millions more than it did this year.

“In order that the Force can not only maintain that service, but also enhance it with new officers, additional funding is required and I fear this will not come from central government when the settlements are announced.Mr Underhill said he is “frustrated” at asking for more money.

“I know many families in Dorset are struggling, and I remain immensely frustrated that the financial burden for policing appears to be getting passed to local taxpayers once again,” he said.

“I will continue to demand a fairer settlement for Dorset Police, which remains one of the lowest funded forces in the country.” To have your say, visit dorsetpoliceprecept.com.