I’ve now had confirmation from both the Home Office and the Electoral Commission that youth convictions for imprisonable offences WILL bar people from becoming a police and crime commissioner.
Hopefully, this will clear up the mess caused by conflicting messages from ministers wishing they could exclude Simon Weston from the harshness of their own policy – see my article here for the background on this.
You can see the text of my original letter to the Home Office here. Their official response came in a brief email, reading:
‘I can confirm our understanding of the law is the same as yours, although this is dependent on Parliament approving the draft Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2012.’
The Electoral Commission’s Legal Counsel confirmed his understanding was also the same in a similarly brief email. The brevity implies to me that there isn’t room for doubt and no detailed comment is needed.
The draft order referred to does not affect the substance of the bar in relation to juvenile convictions. It just tidies up the rest of the law to enable checking of past convictions and put beyond doubt the fact that all spent convictions for an imprisonable offence result in disqualification. Otherwise, the 2011 Act conflicts with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 which stops spent convictions being used to bar people from employment in most circumstances.
On a legal note, the more recent statute would prevail anyway. but it’s best to achieve complete consistency. On a practical note, Parliament can either adopt the draft in full or kill it completely (and I can’t remember if that’s ever happened!)