The Home Office and the Electoral Commission have said that a PCC candidate cannot stand if they have a criminal record; this includes juvenile criminal records. This has forced two individuals to withdraw from their candidacy for Police and Crime Commissioner due them possessing a criminal record.
Bob Ashford, former Labour candidate for Avon and Somerset, and Alan Charles, former Labour candidate for Derbyshire, have both stood down as a PCC candidate due to crimes that they committed in their teens.
Bob Ashford committed an offence when he was just 13 years old and resulted in a £5 fine. The result has been that an offence which took place over 46 years ago has had a disproportionate effect on his life now; preventing him from furthering his career.
Alan Charles committed an offence at the age of 17 resulting in a conditional discharge. Charles’s record has thus far has not prevented him from serving as a councillor for twenty years and as vice chairman of the police authority for three years.
Why is it that the Home Office and the Electoral Commission have decided that a criminal record should be an obstacle for an individual wanting to stand as a PCC? After all, you can become Prime Minister with a criminal record.
This raises the inevitable issue of criminal records, especially juvenile records. In most cases is it really right for an individual to pay the price for act of child stupidity all their life? Removing the right of any person (not imprisoned) to stand as a candidate in a democratic election is taking the election of public representatives out of the hands of the voting public. The Home Office and Electoral Commission should be concentrating on implementing policies which promote common sense rather than penalising people for a mistake that they made over forty years ago.