In the Media

Only celebrities and politicians will win elected police roles, says former Met chief

PUBLISHED March 23, 2012

Lord Condon, who served as Met commissioner between 1993 and 2000, said that talented independent candidates would be "frozen out" because voters will be unaware that they are standing.

This is because the Government has ruled out posting the details of candidates for the powerful new role of Police and Crime Commissioner, as happens before general elections.

Information on the polls, due to take place this November in 41 police forces in England and Wales, will only accessible to those who can get online.

Lord Condon said the decision, recently highlighted by the Electoral Commission, would benefit candidates who are already well-known or who have the financial backing of established political parties.

He told the House of Lords: "It seems increasingly likely that the only candidates that will succeed in November will be party political nominees or personalities who are already household names.

"The flaws exposed by the Electoral Commission will actually deter talented independent candidates from either standing or if they do stand they will frozen out of the process."

Lord Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister who is running for police commissioner in Humberside, where he was an MP, said: "This is quite a scandalous decision to deny seven million people, according to the Election Commission, the right to vote because they don't have access to the website.

"In my area of Humberside that will mean 170,000 people, mostly elderly, will be denied their democratic right to information on the candidates."

But Baroness Stowell of Beeston, for the Home Office, said it was for candidates to make their views heard, and that the Government was just trying to make the elections cost-effective.

She said: "The Government is not denying anybody a democratic right. We are putting forward a proposal which will allow very clear and effective communication of candidates via a website. Together with a national helpline that will be well advertised and enable people to ring up and request the information on paper.

"We think this is a cost-effective way. Election addresses, whilst important, are not what will secure success for any candidate.

"It is for the candidates themselves to ensure they communicate very effectively with the electorate."