Another PPC candidate to be investigated after campaign material complaints

1316
Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) logo

Just weeks after we revealed that complaints had been made about the use of certain images in one PCC candidate’s campaign material, another is also now being investigated for the same thing.

Conservative PCC candidate Festus Akinbusoye had the use of images of him in a police uniform called into question, with several complainants saying it breached protocol for the use of images of police officers while campaigning for election.

Read: PCC candidate’s campaign material to be investigated after complaints

At the time, Mr Akinbusoye wrote about the complaints on his social media channels. ‘I am not the first election candidate to use a picture of themselves in a police, army, some kind of uniform here in Bedfordshire or Britain.

‘I won’t be the last, and I won’t be deterred,’ he wrote.

Now, Liberal Democrat candidate Jas Parmar is facing the same accusations and an investigation by Bedfordshire’s Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).

“Absolutely fine”

The OPCC Chief Executive confirmed to the Bedford Independent that it received a complaint yesterday about “some of the Liberal Democrat campaign literature” and highlighted it was due to the use of a photograph of a police officer and the use of a police building.

“We will consider the complaint and its compliance with the local protocol that we have in place in Bedfordshire and respond in due course,” said a spokesperson for the OPCC.

We asked the Liberal Democrats for a comment on the use of the images and if they believed the use of them was in breach of the protocol and National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Guidance, as follows:

  • 6.1.1 Any campaign material which uses existing police images or livery would, to the electorate, appear to show police support for a candidate and therefore under the general principles test should not be allowed.
  • 6.1.2 Forces should make it clear to all parties and prospective candidates that they do not have permission to use pre-existing photographs, livery or publicity involving officers or staff in their campaign publicity.
  • 6.1.3 Forces should request candidates to remove or withdraw such material if attempts are made to use them.

In response, a Lib Dem spokesperson said, “The paragraphs referred to describe using photos with serving officers to imply support.

“They do not refer to using a photo of the candidate himself which is of course absolutely fine – this is a historical photo of Jasbir from his time as a front-line police officer in the Met.”

Response from the OPCC

While the OPCC has yet to determine if Mr Parmar’s campaign material is in breach of the protocol, it has issued a statement about the complaints against Mr Akinbusoye, which does clarify what it deems to be an acceptable use of images of police officers.

“Following the complaints, [against Mr Akinbusoye] we engaged the National Police Chiefs’ Council on the additional guidance issued around the PCC elections, which was published after the Bedfordshire local protocol was agreed and inside the pre-election timeframe,” said the OPCC Chief Executive.

“The OPCC issued some clarification to the use of the local protocol on 12 April 2024.

“The OPCC discussed this matter with the candidate’s agent, Marc Frost, who accepts that the local protocol sets out that images of Bedfordshire Police officers should not be used in election material.

“The image is of the Conservative candidate, Festus Akinbusoye, who served as a Special Constable in Bedfordshire Police from 14 August 2020 to 15 October 2020.

“Mr Frost accepts that the lack of caption explaining that the image is of Mr Akinbusoye when he was briefly a Special Constable was an oversight and could have been included on the election material.

“Mr Frost pointed out that the NPCC has recently changed its guidance in relation to pre-election periods for PCC elections, but accepted that no such changes were made to the local protocol as the new guidance was issued during the pre-election period.

“Notwithstanding that the local protocol is unenforceable and is not part of any electoral law, Mr Frost confirmed that the image that has been subject to the complaints would not be used in any new material that the campaign team did not already have printed.

“Mr Frost also confirmed that any further use of images of the Conservative Candidate would be appropriately captioned to prevent any misinterpretation.”

While Jas Parmar’s images do show him in his police uniform on the campaign material seen by the Bedford Independent, no captions are identifying him in the pictures.

Polling day

Voting in the PCC elections begins tomorrow (2 May) with polling stations open from 7am until 10pm. You will need photo ID to vote at a polling station, details of what you need can be found on the Electoral Commission website.

The count and result will take place the following day on 3 May.

Details of who is standing can be found here.