Further to my musings on the worthwhileness of the Police and Crime Commissioner elections taking place today, I sent what I consider a not entirely impertinent e-mail inquiry to all six candidates apparently aspiring to become PCC for Hampshire & IoW:
‘Dear Sir/Madam,I would be very grateful if you could kindly provide answer/comment to the following questions:
- What is your position on Section 5 of the Public Order Act?
- What is your take on the lack of adequate public interest defence in the Libel Reform Bill currently in progress?
- Will you uphold the right to free expression, or accede to the ‘offended’ protests of those in your jurisdiction who cry wolf?
With thanks for your time,
I (eventually) received a number of responses (to what was not communicated as an ‘open letter’, so I won’t name whom I quote/paraphrase here).
One reply was in actual fact a copy-in to a response to someone else’s query, deemed as overlapping mine with its included reference to the Public Order Act. However, as this query was from a bleating religious standpoint, with the response revealing the religious bent of the candidate without actually providing an unequivocal position on Section 5, I am none the wiser. My further request for clarification has not been met. I will not be voting for someone (partially) campaigning on a religious platform.
Another reply considered my questions irrelevant to the post of PCC, whose job will be ‘to see that all laws are kept’, emphasising that changes in the law are for parliament. (Indeed. So if people want to see changes to how the law is wrought in their area, surely their elected MP is the appropriate conduit?) It then proceeded with comments on the freedom of speech issue – as ‘opinion’ (with which I largely concur), ending with a commitment to always take the ‘common sense’ line. Hmmm. Whose? Because ‘common’ sense is not always common to all. If common sense is the overriding criterion, then why do we need a PCC? Is the Chief Constable not trusted to sufficiently exercise it?
Another candidate provided more agreeable responses. The only problem I have with the commitment here to investigate and follow up any reported crime is that, if the PCC is to govern allocation of resources, it seems unworkable, because it is largely inadequate resources which have brought the situation where many crimes do not get followed up – hence the elected PCC, to decide which of those crimes will be afforded follow-up, and which won’t. Sorry, am I missing the point here?
One candidate has been disappointingly unreachable: despite repeat re-sending of my queries via both the contact e-mail address and the form facility provided on the website, they have been returned as failed delivery. I note today – the day of the election – that the e-mail address has been changed, so I’ve re-sent, though I’m not expecting response now.
In seeming contrast to that seeming inefficiency, one candidate did provide a receipt acknowledgement (though it took two days to arrive), with the pledge that the candidate and campaign team would respond shortly. Alas, another two days later, they haven’t.
The other remaining candidate has not responded.
I also submitted a shortened version of the previous post as a letter to the Southampton Daily Echo… also met with no acknowledgement whatsoever. Which doesn’t really surprise me.