Norfolk commissioner candidates clash over crime figures

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Two of the candidates vying to be Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner have clashed over just how safe the county is from criminals.

There are just under two weeks to go before the May 5 poll, in which six candidates are standing for the post.

But, as campaigning intensifies, Conservative candidate Lorne Green has accused independent rival Stephen Bett of failing to deliver on a pledge to keep Norfolk among the safest areas in the country.

He said latest figures showed the county had slipped from first to 14th in terms of recorded crime rates since Mr Bett was elected as commissioner in November 2012.

Mr Green said: “Norfolk taxpayers have to pay the fourth highest police precept in the country, so expect results.

“Voters should put their trust in a candidate who will deliver better value for money rather than an incumbent that has raised taxes but not delivered low crime.”

In response, Mr Bett reiterated concerns he has previously expressed about changes in the way in which crimes are registered.

He said: “The reporting suggests Norfolk is awash with crime. It’s not. It’s the way crime is recorded.”

He added the force was particularly stretched by the surge in reports of domestic violence and sexual exploitation cases, including many historic allegations.

They were highlighted among the main justifications for an increase in the police portion of the council tax when it was debated earlier this year.

Mr Bett said: “We’re getting things from 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago which have to be recorded as crimes now.”

But Mr Green dismissed that argument, insisting the same problems would be experienced by other forces as well as Norfolk’s.

Meanwhile, another of the candidates standing for the role, the Green Party’s Martin Schmierer, has vowed to support the county’s growing number of homeless people if he is elected.

But he has condemned authorities in other parts of the country, who he claims are looking at the possibility of fining rough sleepers for anti-social activity.

He said: “Remedying the growing problem of homelessness in Norfolk will not be achieved by implementing the kind of policies discussed elsewhere, such as fining those sleeping rough on the streets.

“If elected, I would like to the see the police working more closely with local authorities and charities to ensure that we reverse the growing trend of homelessness in the county and help those most in need of support.”

Elsewhere, Labour’s candidate for the post, Dr Chris Jones, will be holding a campaign event in Lynn next weekend.

He will be meeting voters in the town centre next Saturday, April 30, from noon.

The other candidates standing in the election are Jacqueline Howe (Liberal Democrat) and David Moreland (UKIP).