Police and Crime Commissioners: Register of Interests - Home Affairs Committee Contents

4  PCCs' Profile

35.  Analysis of the professional experience, gender and ethnicity of police and crime commissioners is relevant for assessing whether they genuinely reflect the diverse public whom they are elected to represent.

36.  Thirty-five of the new police and crime commissioners are male, six are female. 15 seats were contested by an all-male line-up of candidates. We note that the small number of women elected stems from the fact that 18% (35) of candidates were women, rather than an expression of voter preference.
PCCs' previous experience
Local politician 19
Military 7
National politician 6
Magistrate[30] 5

51.56% of candidates (99 candidates) had been elected politicians (councillors, MPs, MEPs, Assembly Members). Of those that were elected, 25 had a background in politics.

  • Over 50% of candidates had experience of working in the fields of policing or criminal justice.
  • Thirty nine (20.3%) candidates are known to have served on a police authority.
  • Thirty two (16.6%) candidates are known to have been employed by or served within the police service (predominantly former officers but also some Special Constables). Eight of those elected were former officers.
  • Sixteen (8.3%) candidates are known to have served in the armed forces. Seven were elected.
  • Sixteen (8.3%) candidates are known to be, or to have been a Magistrate. Five of those elected were magistrates.
  • Thirty five (18%) candidates are women. Six of those elected were women.
  • Twenty candidates were from ethnic minorities. No elected PCCs are from an ethnic minority.[31]

37.  The diversity of candidates may have been affected by the election entry requirements. To stand for election as a police and crime commissioner, 100 signatures were required to support a nomination to stand, along with a £5,000 deposit. In an election for the House of Commons, candidates need ten signatures and a £500 deposit to validate their nomination. Candidates themselves believed that these barriers to entry were a problem, especially for independent candidates of whom three quarters (74%) considered that this had been a barrier.[32]

38.  The election was also marked by a significant number of disqualifications. No one convicted of any imprisonable offence was allowed to stand for election, even if they were not actually imprisoned or the conviction had been spent. This included offences that took place as a juvenile.[33] The Electoral Commission highlighted that the PCCs election was characterised by stricter disqualification rules for people with certain previous convictions than most elections and it suggested that the rules were not well-understood by candidates.[34] Two candidates withdrew their candidature before the deadline for withdrawal passed and one candidate later declared himself disqualified.

39.  The first police and crime commissioners are a monoculture. Only 1 in 7 are women and there is a complete lack of representation of ethnic minorities amongst the commissioners. All national political parties have made a virtue of the importance of diversity, but this does not seem to have extended to the candidates for police and crime commissioners. There was clear cross-party support for the conclusions of the Speakers Conference on Parliamentary Representation, which highlighted the barrier to diversity created by costly election processes—the implications for diversity of a high-cost election should not have come as a surprise.

40.  In future, where local parties are involved in the selection of candidates for police and crime commissioner, they should certainly take an active role in increasing the recruitment pool at the start of the electoral process to reflect the diversity of the electorate.

41.  High barriers to entry—the requirement for 100 signatures and a £5,000 deposit—are intended to uphold the integrity of the office of Police and Crime Commissioner and to discourage frivolous candidacies. Although this may well be appropriate, it might also have an effect on competition and diversity in the PCC elections. Therefore, it is our intention to return to this question later this year, in our inquiry on PCCs. While we recognise that PCCs must be of the highest integrity, we also believe that the rules barring anyone from standing who has a criminal conviction for an imprisonable offence, even as a juvenile, are excessive and should be brought into line with the rules for other public offices.

Further scrutiny

42.  Police and crime commissioners are a lynchpin in the new landscape of policing. The next PCC elections in three years (2016) will be an appropriate time for an overall assessment of what has actually been achieved by the Commissioners, and whether the change which has occurred could be considered a successful alternative to the previous arrangements. In the meantime, we will return to this issue in a major Report a year on from their appointment: we will be looking at the effectiveness of the current commissioners and how their work is contributing to crime reduction and cost efficiency.

43.   In order to hold the Commissioners to account, this Report sets out the first register of PCCs' interests. It is clear that this kind of national picture will be valuable to the electorate and to the commissioners themselves. In future, we expect an independent national body such as HMIC to take on the responsibility for compiling a complete register. This will complement and strengthen the system of local accountability that is already in place.

30   Some may fall into more than one category; for example, the office of magistrate is a part-time office often held alongside other employment. Back

31   Association of Police and Crime Commissioners-data derived from election addresses Back

32   Electoral Commission, Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales: Report on the administration of the elections held on 15 November 2012, March 2013 Back

33   Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 Back

34   Electoral Commission, Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales: Report on the administration of the elections held on 15 November 2012, March 2013 Back

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Prepared 23 May 2013