Press Release 8/08/12
It is with great regret that today I am standing down as the Labour Party Candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset. I have received confirmation that a criminal offence I committed as a 13 year old in 1966 for which I was fined £5 and would today almost certainly not lead to a court case has now barred me from standing for the PCC post. I have always declared this previous conviction throughout my career and during the selection process but it is only now that the Labour Party has received clarification from the Home Office and the Electoral Commission that youth convictions for imprisonable offences will bar people from becoming a police and crime commissioner.
As you might imagine I am both unhappy with the circumstances which have led to this position and apologetic to all those supporters who have backed my campaign for a position I felt passionate about and for which I believed I was well qualified.
I have spent my entire life working with young people who have been disadvantaged by their family or social environments firstly as a social worker and for the past 15 years in the field of youth justice. In doing so I have had an rewarding career which has led to me working with ministers and other agencies to create national programmes designed to improve the lives of some of the most disadvantaged young people and deprived communities. A basic foundation of that work, underpinned by legislation and societal norms, is the belief that all young people have worth and the ability to reform and lead productive and valuable lives as I have done. It is deeply and bitterly ironic that I now find myself in a position where my prospective career and my work to date is to be overshadowed by an event which occurred 46 years ago and a piece of legislation which completely undermines those basic human rights.
The principles here go way beyond those relating to the post of Police and Crime Commissioner and are an infringement of the human rights of young people. Young people with criminal records are continually and additionally disadvantaged by the need to declare these convictions for even the most trivial of offences as they mature and become adults. This acts as a bar to employment and becoming responsible and productive members of society. Are we to forever brand young people as offenders regardless of their wish to reform? Whilst stepping down I intend to fight this ruling to the highest level, not just because of the impact this has had on myself but because this and other legislation which penalises and stigmatises children and young people who offend is fundamentally bad and discriminatory law.
In terms of the campaign for PCC I will offer my full support to the new candidate who the Party will select.
For a fuller statement go to my website: bobashford.co.uk