The man barred from commissioner job for 46-year-old fine

By Georgie Keate

"Flawed" police elections have barred a second candidate in two months from standing as a police and crime commissioner (PCC) due to convictions received in childhood.

Bob Ashford said the rules preventing candidates with juvenile records from standing for office were "an infringement of the rights of young people".

The former director of strategy at the Youth Justice Board was disqualified from running as Labour PCC of Avon and Somerset after admitting to a conviction of trespass when he was just 13 years old.

Only last month, Falklands war hero Simon Weston was also banned from standing as PCC of South Wales for a conviction as a passenger in a stolen car aged 14.

The Home Office rules stipulate that if someone has been convicted of an imprisonable offence, regardless of age, they cannot run for the post.

However, Ashford has worked as a senior government executive, vetted by the Home Office and signed the Official Secrets Act since the fine.

"It is ironic that after a professional and political career spanning my entire life I am now going to be brought down by a piece of legislation which absolutely contradicts the tenets that every individual has worth and the ability to change their lives," he said.

Ashford argued his disqualification highlighted the lack of opportunity young people face if they run in with the criminal justice system.

"At the time I was 13 and living on a council estate in Bristol,” he said, explaining his conviction.
“I had no previous involvement with the police and came from a good and caring family."

He was then forced to accompany a group of boys with an air gun because he knew if he "refused they could make [his] life difficult."

“I went to court and was to the best of my knowledge charged with trespass on the railway and possession of an offensive weapon. I was told to plead guilty to the two charges even though I had never touched the air gun.

"I was fined £2 and 10 shillings on both counts. Both of these offences are to the best of my knowledge 'imprisonable' offences.”

The Home Office have defended the rule made in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 saying: "This high standard was set with cross-party agreement because PCCs will hold police forces, whose duty is to uphold the law, to account."