CONSERVATIVE Party members have tonight chosen their candidate for next May's election for the post of County Durham Police and Crime Commissioner.

Darlington-born Peter Cuthbertson, 32, has been selected on a "zero tolerance" ticket to stand for the position currently held by Labour candidate Ron Hogg.

Mr Cuthbertson, an anti-tobacco campaigner in his day job, founded the Centre for Crime Prevention two years ago. It is a group campaigning for zero tolerance policing and much tougher sentences for serious, repeat offenders.

He has campaigned against what he calls "revolving door community sentences", highlighting cases where the most prolific criminals received community service more than 20 times before they went to prison.

Mr Cuthbertson ran as the Conservative candidate for Darlington MP in May's General Election, reducing the majority of Labour's Jenny Chapman to 3,158.

He said: "I am delighted to have this chance to campaign for robust, zero tolerance policing. I disagree 100 per cent with Jeremy Corbyn's softly-softly approach to crime, including votes for prisoners. Hardened criminals will have a very tough time if I win in May.

"I want to do everything I can to restore police to a local beat. Ray Mallon proved zero tolerance policing works in deterring and catching criminals. It also means police really get to understand an area, and who the known troublemakers are.

"Often, it is the so called "minor" offences and anti-social behaviour that ruin quality of life most - police must always take them seriously."

Mr Cuthbertson promised he would, if elected, concentrate more police time on anti-social behaviour and illegal traveller sites, free more police from paperwork and their cars and avoid treating the motorist like a cash cow.

He pledged to publish all expenses online and to go on patrol with local police at least one day per week.