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Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011

Police and Crime Commissioners: Elections and Vacancies

Section 50: Ordinary elections

184.Under section 50 an election for police and crime commissioners for all police areas will be held in 2012. Elections will then be held in each subsequent fourth year. Subsection (2) provides that the date of the poll in 2012 will be 15 November, and subsection (3) that in subsequent years (subject to an order made under subsection (4)) the poll will be on the ‘ordinary day of election’ in that year. ‘Ordinary day of election’ is defined in subsection (6), and by reference to sections 37, 37A and 37B of the Representation of the People Act 1983, as the day of election of councillors in that year. Subsection (4) contains a power for the Secretary of State by order to vary the date of the election for police and crime commissioners. Subsection (7) provides that the term of office of a police and crime commissioner starts on the seventh day after the election, and ends on the sixth day after the next ordinary election of police and crime commissioners, but subsection (8) provides that this is subject to any provision made under this Act, or any other Act, relating to the appointment of election of police and crime commissioners or their ceasing to hold office.

Section 51: Election to fill vacancy in office of commissioner

185.Section 51 applies where a vacancy arises in the office of police and crime commissioner. In such cases, an election must be held to fill the vacancy.

186.Subsection (4) provides that the date of the election must not be more than 35 days after the “relevant event” (which is defined in subsection (5) as being where the High Court or the appropriate officer has declared the office to be vacant and, in any other case the giving of the notice of vacancy to the appropriate officer). Appropriate officer in this context is defined in section 76 and means the head of paid service of the local authority designated by the Secretary of State. Subsection (7) provides that no election is to be held if the vacancy arises within the period of six months before an ordinary election. An order under section 58 can make special provision where an election fails or there is some irregularity, which could override subsections (3) and (4).

Section 52: Persons entitled to vote

187.Under section 52 a person is entitled to vote for a police and crime commissioner if they are entitled to vote in a local government election in an electoral area wholly or partly comprised in the police area, and the address in respect of which the person is registered is within the police area. A person is not entitled to vote more than once in the same police area.

Section 53: Public awareness about elections: role of Electoral Commission

188.Section 53 provides that the Electoral Commission must take such steps as it considers appropriate to raise public awareness about each election of a police and crime commissioner.

Section 54: Returning officers etc.

189.Section 54 provides that the police area returning officer is a person who is an acting returning officer for Parliamentary elections for a constituency falling partly or wholly within the police area and who is designated as such by order made by the Secretary of State. Under subsection (2) the Secretary of State may by regulations confer functions on both the returning officer and local returning officers (a local returning officer for this purpose is defined in subsection (5) as a person who acts as returning officer for certain local elections under section 35 of the Representation of the People Act 1983). Such regulations may apply or incorporate, with or without modifications or exceptions, provisions of other legislation about elections, and are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

190.Subsection (4) requires certain local authorities to make other staff available to assist the returning officer for the police area and local returning officers in carrying out their functions.

Section 55: Returning officers: expenditure

191.Section 55 allows a returning officer to recover charges in respect of services rendered or expenses incurred in connection with an election provided that they are necessarily rendered or incurred in the effective and efficient conduct of that election, and subject to an overall maximum recoverable amount to be set by the Secretary of State, with the consent of the Treasury, by order. In order to recover charges, a returning officer must submit an account to the Secretary of State who, under subsection (7) may apply for the account to be assessed, or “taxed”, in accordance with section 56. Subsection (10) provides that the Secretary of State may by regulations make provision as to accounts of returning officers’ charges.

Section 56: Taxation of returning officer’s account

192.Section 56 provides that an application for a returning officer’s account to be taxed is to be made to the county court, and provides for that court’s jurisdiction in determining the application. ‘Returning officer’ has the same meaning as in section 55.

Section 57: Voting at elections of police and crime commissioners

193.Section 57 provides that the commissioner is to be returned under the simple majority system unless there are three or more candidates, in which case the provisions of Schedule 9 provide for the supplementary voting system. A supplementary vote in this context means a vote capable of being given to indicate first and second preferences from among the candidates. Schedule 9 provides in paragraph 3 for the counting process where a candidate has an overall majority of first preference votes, and paragraph 4 where no candidate has such an overall majority.

Section 58: Power to make provision about elections etc

194.Section 58 provides that the Secretary of State may by order, subject to the affirmative resolution procedure and after consulting the Electoral Commission (under section 7 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 as amended by Schedule 10), make provision as to the conduct of elections of police and crime commissioners and the questioning of such an election and consequences of irregularities. Such an order may apply or incorporate, with or without modifications or exceptions, any relevant provision (defined in subsection (7)), modify forms used in other elections in order to enable them to be used in elections for police and crime commissioners also, regulate candidate, political party and third party campaign spending and include provision relating to criminal offences. Subsection (5) provides that such an order may make amendments to any relevant provision which are consequential on any provision of Chapter 6 or regulations under section 54 or an order under subsection (1) of section 58.

Section 59: Date of vacancy in office of commissioner

195.Section 59 sets out the circumstances in which a vacancy is to be treated for the purposes of the Chapter as occurring in the office of police and crime commissioner and the corresponding dates on which the vacancy is deemed to have occurred. Under subsection (3) public notice of a vacancy must be given by the appropriate officer (as defined in section 76) and that appropriate officer must give notice of the vacancy to the returning officer for the police area.

Section 60: Declaration of vacancy in certain cases

196.Section 60 provides that when a vacancy occurs in the circumstances set out in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of subsection (1), including where a police and crime commissioner becomes disqualified, a declaration of vacancy is to be made forthwith unless a declaration to that effect has already been made by the High Court, or an application has already been made to the High Court.

Section 61: Resignation of commissioner

197.Section 61 provides that the commissioner may resign at any time on giving notice to the appropriate officer (as defined in section 76).

Section 62: Appointment of acting commissioner

198.Section 62 provides for the appointment of an acting police and crime commissioner while no person holds the office or the holder is incapacitated or suspended.

199.Subsections (1), (2) and (3) provide for the appointment to be made by the police and crime panel from among the staff of the police and crime commissioner, and in a case where the police and crime commissioner is incapacitated but makes representations as to who should be appointed as acting police and crime commissioner, the panel must have regard to them.

200.Subsection (4) allows an acting police and crime commissioner to exercise any of the functions of the police and crime commissioner except the issuing or variation of a police and crime plan.

Section 63: Vacancy where acting commissioner acts for 6 months

201.Section 63 provides that where an acting commissioner has been appointed because a police and crime commissioner is incapacitated, at the end of a 6 month period the office of police and crime commissioner becomes vacant if the police and crime commissioner is still incapacitated.

Section 64: Disqualification from election as police and crime commissioner

202.Section 64 provides that a person is ineligible to stand as a police and crime commissioner unless they are 18 years old when nominated as a candidate, and are in the register of local government electors for the police force area on the day of the election and the day on which the person is nominated as a candidate at the election. A person is disqualified from being elected if the person has been nominated as a candidate for any other police area.

Section 65: Disqualification from election or holding office as police and crime commissioner: police grounds

203.Section 65, subsection (1) sets out the circumstances connected with the police in which a person is disqualified from being elected or from holding office as a police and crime commissioner

204.Paragraphs (a) to (c) disqualify members of certain police forces, namely police forces for any police areas in the United Kingdom, the British Transport Police Force and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary; paragraph (c) disqualifies special constables of police forces in England and Wales or the British Transport Police Force.

205.Paragraphs (d) to (h) disqualify the Mayor of London, and members of the Common Council of the City of London or other police authorities, and members of staff of local policing bodies, chief officers of police and other police authorities, and paragraph (i) disqualifies persons holding employment in an entity under the control of a local policing body or other police authority or of a chief officer of police (to be construed in accordance with regulations). Subsection (2) defines a member of staff for these purposes. Subsection (4) makes special provision for the first elections, when the existing police authorities will still be in place.

Section 66: Disqualification from election or holding office as police and crime commissioner: other grounds

206.Section 66(1) provides that a person is to be disqualified from being elected or being a police and crime commissioner unless the person satisfies the citizenship condition in section 68. Subsection (2) disqualifies a person who is disqualified from membership of the House of Commons under section 1(1)(a) to (c) of the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 (judges, civil servants and members of the armed forces), or is a member of an overseas legislature. Subsection (3) relates to bankruptcy restrictions, and convictions for imprisonable offences. A person is also to be disqualified if that person is a member of staff of, or employed by an entity under the control of, a relevant council (as defined).

Section 67: Disqualification of person holding office as police and crime commissioner

207.Section 67 provides for disqualification from holding office as police and crime commissioner upon becoming a member of the elected bodies set out in paragraphs (a) to (e).

Section 68: Citizenship condition

208.Section 68 provides for the citizenship condition. It is satisfied by a person who is a qualifying Commonwealth citizen (as defined in subsection (3)), a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, or a citizen of the European Union.

Section 69: Validity of acts

209.Section 69 provides that the acts of any person who has been elected as police and crime commissioner are to be valid and effectual, despite any disqualification from being or being elected as a commissioner.

Section 70: Declaration of acceptance of office of police and crime commissioner

210.Section 70 provides that a person cannot become police and crime commissioner until he or she makes a declaration of acceptance of the office within the two months after the election, and that such declaration must be made to the appropriate officer and in the form specified by order made by the Secretary of State. Failure to make this declaration as required will render the office of the police and crime commissioner vacant under subsection (2).

211.A person may be elected as a police and crime commissioner while a member of any of the bodies listed in subsection (5) but must resign any such membership before giving a declaration of acceptance of office.

Section 71: Judicial proceedings as to disqualification or vacancy

212.Section 71 provides that a person who claims that another who is purporting to act as police and crime commissioner has been disqualified may apply to the High Court for a declaration to that effect and that accordingly the office is vacant. An application can also be made where a vacancy arises because the commissioner is incapacitated and an acting commissioner has been acting for more than 6 months and where a person fails properly to give a declaration of acceptance of office within 2 months after being elected. Subsection (3) provides that no declaration may be made if an election petition is pending or has been tried in which the person’s disqualification on those grounds was an issue. On an application the applicant must give such security for costs as the court may direct, subject to the maximum amount specified in subsection (6). The decision of the court is final.

Section 72: Amendment of police areas: term of office of commissioner

213.Police areas can be altered by order made under section 10 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, section 58 of the Local Government Act 1972, or under section 32 of the Police Act 1996. Those Acts are amended by Schedule 10 to allow an order altering police areas to require an election to take place for a police and crime commissioner for any area resulting from the order, or for an existing police and crime commissioner to become the police and crime commissioner for any of the resulting areas. Under subsection (2) of section 72, a person’s term of office will end at the time it would end had the person been elected at the previous ordinary election of commissioners in England or Wales.

Section 73: Computation of time and timing of elections etc

214.Section 73 provides for the computation of time where an election is due to be held or a declaration of acceptance of office is due to be given on a day which is not a business day. ‘Business day’ for these purposes is defined in subsection (5). It also provides for non-business days not to count for calculating the period within which a by-election must be held.

Section 74: Elections: consequential amendments

215.Section 74 provides that Schedule 10 has effect; that Schedule includes amendments to the Local Government Act 1972, the Representation of the People Act 1983, the Police Act 1996, the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, and the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.

216.The amendments to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 extend certain functions of the Electoral Commission to cover elections of police and crime commissioners.

Section 75: The appropriate officer

217.Section 75 provides that the Secretary of State must, for police areas for which police and crime commissioners are elected, by order designate a local authority and that the head of paid service of that designated authority (as defined in subsection (3)) is to be the ‘appropriate officer’.

Section 76: Interpretation of Chapter 6

218.Section 76 provides for the definition of various terms used in this Chapter, including ‘appropriate officer’, and ‘local government elector’. It also terms ‘elector’ in relation to a local government election, ‘electoral area’ and ‘local government election’ have the same meaning as in the Representation of the People Act 1983 (unless the context otherwise requires).

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