The number of candidates for the Police and Crime commissioner elections on November 15th is coming through thick and fast. The Top of the Cops blog (run by Sam Chapman, himself interested in being the Conservative candidate for Lancashire) and Michael Crick's blog are both trying to keep track. But a lot of the potential Conservative candidates are still teasing about whether they will stand or not. Others have the disadvantage of having opposed the whole concept of elected sheriffs – trying to defend a cosy but ineffective niche they enjoyed in Police Authorities.
Baroness Newlove may be standing in Cheshire. The local police shop steward, Simon Roberts, has warned against celebrity candidates. If he feels a celebrity standing for election would be unsuitable the answer is for him to vote for a non celebrity. A ban on celebrity candidates doesn't sound a very democratic approach.
But we need more candidates who have a real belief in the need for police accountability and who are open about standing. For a start this should mean setting out their stall on a website. Bernard Rix, seeking the Conservative nomination for Bedfordshire has done this and sounds like an excellent candidate. He has done a very good post debunking Guardian hysteria over Police "privatisation" – pointing out that outsourcing is nothing new and that more of it would increase effectiveness in fighting crime.
Cllr Simon Spencer, the Deputy Leader of Derbyshire County Council, is seeking nomination. But where is his website? Ditto Cllr Lance Kennedy in Devon and Cornwall. Ditto Cllr George Beckett for Hampshire. Ditto Cllr Stephen Bett for Norfolk. Ditto, for that matter, Colonel Tim Collins in Kent. None off them seem to have taken this most basic step in their campaigns. Cllr Peter Jones for Sussex has a website with a survey form – but he has not set out any plan at all about what he would do. It is a policy free zone.
But at least these are individuals who are clear about wanting to stand. There are lots of others who are still just "letting it be known" to their local papers that "they might be interested."
They need to stop dithering.