Nacro’s Paul McDowell and Jon Collins from The Police Foundation wrote a joint letter to the Times expressing their disappointment about the case of Bob Ashford, who committed a minor crime at 13 and now may not stand as a Police and Crime Commissioner candidate.
Sir, We are disappointed about the case of Bob Ashford, a former director of strategy at the Youth Justice Board, who committed a minor crime at 13 and now may not stand as a Police and Crime Commissioner candidate, some 46 years later (report, Aug 9). An expired conviction like this would not prevent somebody from becoming Prime Minister or Home Secretary, so it surely cannot be right that it permanently bars them from becoming a Police and Crime Commissioner.
The decision to block anyone who has ever committed an imprisonable offence from standing as a Police and Crime Commissioner will exclude many talented and capable people from this important job. We believe that if someone has made a mistake in the past, but put their offending behind them, then they should be encouraged to make a contribution to society.
The role of Police and Crime Commissioners is to make policing democratically accountable to the electorate. It should be the right of the public to decide who is suitable for this role, and this is a missed opportunity for the Government to set an example on the employment of ex-offenders.
It is too late to change this regrettable situation in time for November’s election, but politicians of all parties should ensure that this legislation is amended in time for the next round of PCC elections.
Paul McDowell, Chief Executive at Nacro, the crime reduction charity
Jon Collins, Deputy Director at The Police Foundation