THE newly-elected police and crime commissioner for County Durham has made a ‘firm commitment’ to Darlington and pledged to spend part of his working week in the town.

Ron Hogg, who was elected to the post in November, said Darlington was of key importance in the Durham force area as the largest populated area and he felt it deserved more attention.

As part of his commitment to Darlington, and to make himself more accessible to residents, Mr Hogg has arranged with Darlington Borough Council to spend one day a week working out of an office in the town hall.

He hopes to spend time visiting and meeting community groups and learning about what residents want to see from the police in the coming months.

Mr Hogg, who lives in Chester-le-Street, enjoyed a 30-year police career before retiring in 2008, during which time he served as assistant chief constable of Durham and deputy chief constable of Cleveland Police.

The Labour commissioner has put forward a number of policing priorities for his first term, including tackling anti-social behaviour, drug and alcohol misuse and speeding.

He said: “Darlington is the biggest town in the force area and I shall be in the town regularly to show my commitment. I know Darlington quite well as my partner used to live here.

“I sometimes think that under the old police authority that Darlington wasn’t given the attention it perhaps should have been.”

Mr Hogg has already announced plans to meet with community panels, one for each of the constituencies in the force area, to help him connect with the public and listen to their concerns.

He held a consultation event at the Dolphin Centre, in Darlington, last week – one of the first times such an event has taken place outside of Durham City.

He added: “It’s about getting the balance right. The people at the meeting in Darlington also came from surrounding areas such as Bishop Auckland and Newton Aycliffe, which shows that we need to take Darlington more seriously.”

Mr Hogg plans to hold more events involving the public in the New Year.