Shaun Wright has finally heeded the voice of the people and resigned as South Yorkshire PCC. This creates a number of issues:-
1) No-one is currently doing the job of South Yorkshire PCC, so the Police and Crime Panel for South Yorkshire will have to appoint an Acting PCC. The problem they will have is the lack of an obvious candidate, as South Yorkshire’s Deputy PCC gave Mr Wright an example by resigning while he refused to. Hence she is not available. The Panel may only choose from PCC staff, so the Panel may not find themselves able to appoint a politician to this political role.
2) There will have to be an election. You may remember widespread head-scratching a few months ago when the West Midlands PCC post fell vacant. That example has meant that this time it is much more simple – Barnsley Council’s Chief Executive Diana Terris, has admitted to being Returning Officer and has told the BBC “Upon receipt of a request from two electors in the South Yorkshire police area to the Authorised Officer, Diana Terris, an election will be held within 35 days. The date will be confirmed in due course.”
Those accustomed to parsing such texts will note that the 35 days will only start once two South Yorkshire electors write to Diana Terris to inform her the PCC position is vacant and that they would like an election, which is where you come in…
Last time in the West Midlands the Council were pushed into action when some TopOfTheCops readers sent just such an email to the Chief Executive, and copied those emails to me at Editor@TopOfTheCops.com – to ensure there was someone independent of the Council who could verify it had taken place.
I think the 35-day rule is a bit silly, but also that the people of South Yorkshire really need a new PCC as quickly as possible to lead the fight against Child Sexual Exploitation and other crimes, and to ensure that South Yorkshire Police are held accountable, and the government need every encouragement to get a move on with fixing the bits of the PCC legislation that have been found wanting, so…
…anyone who is a voter in South Yorkshire who wants to call for an election might find it useful to know that the Returning Officer’s email address is email@example.com and I’m happy to count any emails calling for an election that are copied to me at Editor@TopOfTheCops.com
Your email should mention your name, address, the fact you are on the electoral roll in South Yorkshire, that there is a vacancy in the office of South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, and that you want an election to be called as soon as possible.
3) There is one more detail. For the West Midlands PCC by-election the government passed a change to the law allowing for a taxpayer-funded booklet containing candidate statements to be sent to each household, but there was a catch. This law, passed only two months ago, was for one by-election only, so if they want to do that again, they will have to pass it again, pretty damn quick – or maybe just make it permanent, or is that too sensible a suggestion? Of course they could just leave it, but I sense that this by-election has more need of it. This is a chance for the public who badly need someone in whom they have confidence to be governing South Yorkshire police and tackling a massive problem in the area. This is the sort of thing that PCCs were designed for, and that Mr Wright simply could not do – but the eventual winner would also be ill-equipped for this role if no-one knows who they are or what they intend to do.