A strange and regrettable decision has been taken by the British Transport Police. Today’s Sun on Sunday reports that it has decided to dispense with the services of two special constables, David Davies, the MP for Monmouth, and Philip Hollobone, the MP for Kettering.
Our legislators are often accused of being cut off from ordinary people. It is to Davies and Hollobone’s credit that between them, they have accumulated 15 years’ service as specials: a form of public service very different to being an MP, and certainly a way of experiencing the world from a different angle.
Last year, a new code of ethics was introduced for police officers, which says they “must not take any part in politics”. But chief constables are allowed to exercise discretion in individual cases. It seems, to say the least, a great pity that Paul Crowther, chief constable of the British Transport Police, did not decide to keep Davies and Hollobone.
It happens that the two MPs concerned are Conservatives: but the Sun On Sunday reports that Brian Donohoe, the Labour MP for Central Ayrshire, who is himself a former special, has described the chief constable’s decision as “a mistake”. Mike Penning, the policing minister, has urged a re-think, while Davies himself has said he did not want to leave.
No police officer, whether full-time or part-time, should allow his party political convictions to affect the way he carries out his duties, but there is absolutely no suggestion that these two MPs were doing so. It is ridiculous and unjust to imagine that parliamentarians are unable to behave in a strictly unpartisan manner when carrying out roles which require such conduct. Even at Westminster, they quite often have to do that.
It is no good accusing MPs of being cut off, and then stopping them from serving as specials. This decision should be reversed.