Twitter rumours suggested earlier this week that a draft of the rules for Police and Crime Commissioner elections had been “laid before parliament”.
“Laid before parliament” is a counter-intuative and often misleading term which does not mean the document in question has necessarily been, or will be, meaningfully considered by MPs or even published on Parliament’s website.
In fact this document was not, and is not, currently available a far as I can see from the websites of either Parliament, The Electoral Commission or the Home Office. While I can make a copy of the document available on my website, it is awful that it is not available from an authoritative source.
Here’s is what I believe may be a copy of the document:
While a resolution of both the Commons and Lord is required to approve the rules (under S154 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011) that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a debate and opportunities to amend the draft.
Some Key Points
- The nomination paper must be subscribed by 2 electors as proposer and seconder, and
by 98 other electors as assenting to the nomination.
- Candidates require a deposit of £5,000 which can be paid in “legal tender”, or as the returning officer permits. If the candidate does not get 5% of the vote “the candidate’s deposit is forfited to Her Majesty”
- The limitation on candidate expenses is set on a per police area basis. For Cambridgeshire it is £108,754
- 300 word official election addresses can be written and will be posted on a central national website, which will be searchable by postcode (and in other ways).
- Candidates will be able to keep their home addresses secret; those that do will have to declare they live in the relevant force area.
- No member of a police force for any police area may by word, message, writing or in any other manner, endeavour to persuade any person to give, or dissuade any person from giving, his or her vote, whether as an elector or as proxy at a PCC election.
National Website for Election Addresses
A section of the draft order states:
52.(1) Each candidate at an ordinary PCC election is entitled to have an election address included on a website which is maintained by or on behalf of the Secretary of State for the purpose of publishing election addresses of candidates at such an election.
Unlike at general elections where candidates get a free mailing to each household (they still have to pay to print the material) for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections a national, central, website is intended to fulfil that function of giving all candidates access to the whole electorate.
Schedule 8 describes what can be included in the “election address”. A form is reproduced, though it isn’t made clear if this form is to be an integral part of the proposed website, it limits the text to three hundred words, and allows an accompanying photograph.
If the address can include links to candidate’s own websites or social media accounts, and if present if they would be made into clickable links on the central website is for example not specified. The lack of a “Candidate’s website” field is surprising.
There is a provision allowing people to request printed copies of election addresses:
13.(1) The Secretary of State must, on a request made by any person, send to that person a printed version of the election addresses of candidates for any police area in which the person is entitled to vote as an elector.
My own views are:
- A key function of the central website should be directing people to candidate’s own websites, it should have been designed with making this easy in mind.
- I don’t see why an online “election address” should be limited to 300 words, more words online don’t cost anything.
- As material announcing the elections, and explaining how to get hold of a printed copy of the election addresses will be going to each household, I can’t see that it would have taken much more to send the 300 word statements themselves out too.
While I’ve not read all 202 pages of the document yet, the rules are in general appear as expected and unsurprising.