Security expert in bid to become police commissioner
Ex-prison governor wants to be the ‘voice of the people’ in Devon and Cornwall.
A Honiton man is seeking the Conservative Party nomination in a bid to become Devon and Cornwall’s first Police and Crime Commissioner. The successful candidate will be chosen by the public during elections in November.
Paul Biddle MBE, an international security and justice consultant with the Government’s Stabilisation Unit, is currently deployed in Iraq, but told the Midweek Herald: “I believe that the elections are an opportunity for the public to regain the ability to choose the manner of policing they need to feel safe and secure.
“The selection of the new chief constable should reflect that.”
He added: “I do not have the answers to cutting crime, but I strongly believe the candidates should listen to the public, businesses and organisations, including the police, who are involved in criminal justice so as to formulate a definitive policy.
“I see this as a full-time job, with no distractions, and with all expenses (if any) and salary details made available to the public.
“This job is about public service, pure and simple.”
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Born in Brighton in 1956, Mr Biddle moved to the West Country in 1982.
He has been married to Anne for 26 years and has two daughters.
He began his career in the regular Army, serving from 1971 to 1977 in Germany, Denmark and Northern Ireland, and then with the Territorial Army Parachute Regiment until 1983
Mr Biddle joined the Prison Service in 1985, working in all types of prisons, including HMP Dartmoor and HMP Exeter, along with secondments to the Probation Service, and was the first person from the UK criminal justice system to be seconded to the Commission for Racial Equality.
He co-wrote the highly influential document The management of race relations in prisons.
He has also worked in the National Operations Unit as a “use of force advisor” and was awarded the MBE in 2002.
He completed his career in 2007, seconded to the National Offender Management Service.
During his prison career, Mr Biddle was also seconded to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, serving in Iraq (2004-5) and Palestine (2005) as Head of Mission, supervising a joint UK/US monitoring mission of Palestinian Terrorists, and twice to Afghanistan where, in 2006, he was cited for brave conduct for negotiating with the Taliban during the 2006 four-day riot at Pul-e-Charki prison, near Kabul.
Phil Weatley, the then Director General of the Prison Service, told him in a letter that his actions had been “a tremendous achievement that undoubtedly saved many lives”.
Since retiring, Mr Biddle has worked in Indonesia, advising the Government on terrorism, and was deployed to Afghanistan with the UN Assistance Mission and with the EU (2011).
In 2010, he was deployed at short notice to respond to the breakdown in security in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti.
His last missions were advising the governments of Moldova and Saudi Arabia .
He is currently working in Iraq on a UN justice project.
Mr Biddle has also been involved in the local branch of the Royal British Legion and has been a Poppy seller in Honiton for the last five years.
l Police and Crime Commissioners will not run the police, but will aim to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account.
They will make the police answerable to the people they serve and provide stronger and more transparent accountability.
According to the Home Office, they will ensure community needs are met as effectively as possible and will improve local relationships through building confidence and restoring trust.
A Home Office spokesman said: “They will also work in partnership across a range of agencies at local and national level to ensure there is a unified approach to preventing and reducing crime.
“Police and Crime Commissioners will aim to cut crime and deliver an effective and efficient police service within their force area.”