Martyn Underhill Is Dorset's New PCC

The Conservatives have been dealt a blow in Dorset as independent candidate Martyn Underhill clinched the county's first police and crime commissioner role ahead of Tory representative Nick King.

Former senior detective Mr Underhill put keeping politics out of policing at the heart of his campaign, also making pledges to keep officers on the streets and on the supervision of offenders to reduce reoffending.

The 54-year-old, who led the investigation into the disappearance of missing schoolgirl Sarah Payne 12 years ago, beat former Bournemouth councillor and businessman Mr King by more than 17,000 votes at the end of the second round.

Mr Underhill said the battle with the Conservatives - whose candidate had left before the winner had been declared - had been ''bloody'', but said:

''The voters of Dorset, in every voting area of Dorset, have sent a clear message to the Government that they do not want or will support any more political interference in the day-to-day running of the police.

''They have voted for Dorset solutions for Dorset people, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that happens.''

Mr King was much-fancied heading into the election, in a county where seven of the eight MPs are Conservative.

Mr King, Mr Underhill and Labour candidate Rachel Rogers all took to social networking sites in the months leading up to the election, encouraging awareness of their individual campaigns as well as the elections in general.

However, while the candidates reported soaring ''hits'' on their various websites and profile pages, only 16.6% of the electorate voted.

Mr Underhill, who has a son and a step-daughter and lives in Poole, was the only one of the four Dorset candidates to stand as an independent, and his call appeared to resonate with a public he said were concerned by recent political scandals.

Mr Underhill finished the first count with 43,425 votes, ahead of Mr King (31,165), Mrs Rogers (11,596) and Liberal Democrat candidate Andy Canning (9,963). After the second preferences of the eliminated candidates were distributed, Mr Underhill finished with 51,930 and Mr King with 34,451.