To The Right Honourable Theresa May Home Secretary
Dear Home Secretary,
I received a response from Damian Green to my letter of 4th October on 30th December 2012. I am unhappy with the response from the Minister and would like you to consider and reply to the following comments.
The letter states what the Government has done but not what it intends to do. In the Home Affairs Select Committee in December, the Prisons Minster, Jeremy Wright, in response to a question from Jeremy Corbyn MP on the PCC barring legislation said, “this was something the government needed to look at again”. Is this still the case? If so, when will it be looked at, especially now in light of the points in the penultimate paragraph of this letter?
In paragraph four of the government’s response the Minister says: “I can understand how disappointing it must be to have to resign from the PCC candidacy however the Government feels that the nature of this role requires the highest standard of character- similar to that to which a police officer would be held.”
I find this both insulting and disingenuous. To imply that after a successful and blameless career working with young people in trouble in the care and criminal justice systems that I am not of “the highest standard of character” is to condemn everyone with a criminal conviction, no matter how trivial the offence and no matter how long ago it was committed. How does this fit with the Governments rhetoric on the “rehabilitation revolution?”
In looking at recruitment practices for police forces it is clear that these decisions are made locally, as is proper. It’s also clear there must be a difference between someone applying to be a police officer (usually in their early 20s) who holds a criminal conviction committed within the past few years and someone like myself whose offence was committed 46 years ago as a 13 year old. It is also a fact that there are hundreds if not thousands of serving police officers who have been found guilty of imprisonable offences and still continue to serve as officers.
Why when the Home Office has advertised recently for Independent Police Complaints Commissioners, the people who will oversee complaints against the Police and Police and Crime Commissioners, has the barring standard been set at a lower level? It does seem odd that people who have to judge the actions of Chief Constables and PCCs should be judged themselves by a different set of standards.
These arguments have now found support from the Court of Appeal and Lord Dyson in the “T” case. This concerns a 21 year old who had to disclose police cautions received when he was an 11 year old. Lord Dyson has said this is not compatible with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act – the right to a private and family life. A full judgement is expected this week but almost certainly will require further legislation. This is excellent news for those who have criminal convictions (over 30% of adult males) and who have found their lives blighted and stigmatised by convictions when they were young for the rest of their lives.
I would welcome your responses to these points, and, in particular, I would like to know what action the Government will be taking in response to the Appeal Court Judgement. I would also welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss these issues.