AN AUTHOR and former police officer has announced he will stand as an independent candidate in this year's Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

Mike Pannett, from York, served with the police force in London and North Yorkshire for more than 20 years, in both community, urban and rural policing, and on murder, robbery and riot squads. In recent years, he has written a series of books detailing his time on the force and is co-owner of Twiggy's children's play centre in Thirsk.

Mr Pannett will stand against Conservative candidate Julia Mulligan, who was elected the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire in 2012. Her office yesterday confirmed she was expected to stand again in the public election in May.

Mr Pannett said: "I cannot stand by and watch policing levels and capacity regressing back to the 1970's. We are all sick and tired of being spoon-fed government spin that crime is falling and all is well in frontline policing. This simply isn't what we are experiencing right in front of our eyes in our own communities.

"Predatory cross-border criminals and reduced police visibility and accessibility has led to a loss of confidence and feelings of vulnerability in rural communities. Recently, in the biggest rural crime survey ever conducted, approximately 70 per cent of those taking part said they had lost confidence in policing. It breaks my heart to hear this. We are experiencing rising crime and anti-social behaviour in our towns and cities - not the picture our Government and some current PCCs paints at all."

Mr Pannett said he would "roll up my sleeves and get stuck in", and said the prospect of standing without the backing of a political party was "daunting".

Mr Pannett said: "I despise political spin and I will make no apology to Westminster for being a plain speaking Yorkshireman fighting for the effective policing of my home county. 'You can either shout from the touchline or put your boots on and get stuck in, lad', as my dad would say.

"I believe that Policing and Politics should be kept separate. Policing should serve and protect all people, regardless of their political stance, and the PCC should represent those people and challenge the policing of the County from an independent position unencumbered by party politics."

Mr Pannett said: "North Yorkshire is one of the safest places in the whole country, yet that doesn't mean we can be complacent. It's a simple age-old truth that criminals will seek to exploit nice places and are only deterred by the risk of getting caught. I am also aware of the under-reporting of rural crime."

Among Mr Pannett's support team are Vice Admiral Bob Cooling, former commanding officer of the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, Phil McNally, who served with Merseyside Police for 30 years, former Europol and Royal Corps of Signals member Andrew Newton, and Sue Bracewell, one of the organisers of the Huby & Sutton Show.

It is not yet known if another candidates are expected to stand.