South Yorkshire PCC
Theresa May has just said in an interview that it’s not for her to call for the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright to resign over the Rotherham abuse scandal but went on to say in barely disguised language that that is exactly what he should do.
In law, she was quite right in the first part of that statement. The police reform and social responsibility act which her department led through the parliament virtually bomb-proofed PCCs from calls to resign.
The act allows the oversight panel for a PCC to suspend a PCC if they so choose but only if the PCC is charged with an offence which carries a maximum term of 2 years jail.
At one point in the bill’s passage, the then shadow policing minister Vernon Coaker pointed out this meant that a future PCC could be charged with assaulting a police officer and still not be removed from office.
Julian Huppert, for the Lib Dems, pointed out in debate that the provision meant a PCC couldn’t even be considered for removal if he or she had been charged with racially or religiously aggravated assault or harassment, aggravated vehicle taking, causing damage to property and causing injury.
Mr Wright is being told to go because of the tragic abuse that happened on his watch in his previous position as the Labour councillor with responsibility for children’s services so there are no grounds in law to remove him.
But he’s now been told to go by just about anyone with authority to speak on the subject within his own party and you have to think it must be a question of time before Mr Wright takes the hint and stands down.
Turnout in the South Yorkshire poll for PCC was 14.5 per cent (close to the national average of 15 per cent). Mr Wright was elected with a vote of 70,000 out of a potential electorate of 1 million.
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