The Police and Crime Commissioner of Bedfordshire (Conservative), Festus Akinbusoye, has been criticised for responding to a comment on the social media platform, X (formerly known as Twitter), in which he dismissed a question about the former Home Secretary.
The message, sent on the afternoon of Armistice Day (11 November), referenced events that took place at the Cenotaph that morning, which saw right-wing protesters clash with police.
This followed an article in The Times on Wednesday, 8 November written by the then Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, in which she described pro-Palestine protests, also taking place on Armistice Day, as ‘hate marches’.
She criticised the Metropolitan Police, saying they had “double standards” when policing protests. Comments that The Guardian reports some police officers said contributed to attacks during counter-protests which left some officers in hospital.
Responding to a member of the public who asked Mr Akinbusoye if he condemned Braverman’s comments, he replied: “Jog on.”
Ms Braverman was sacked from her post on Monday by Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.
The Bedford Independent contacted Mr Akinbusoye’s office for a comment, but the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) said he would not provide one.
We also contacted the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) to ask if this was an acceptable use of social media for PCCs, but they did not respond in time for our deadline.
The APCC’s website says the role of the Police and Crime Commissioners is to ‘be the voice of the people and help hold the police to account’, with responsibility for the totality of policing.
They are also expected to adhere to the Seven Principles of Public Life, which commit them to, amongst other things, show integrity, accountability, leadership and to treat others with respect.
Cllr Patrick Hammill (Independent, Houghton Regis East ward), who stood in the PCC elections in 2019, told the Bedford Independent: “The PCC’s response to a genuine question from a member of the public, whether we agree or disagree what has been asked did not deserve this rude response from our PCC.”
Mr Akinbusoye, who recently stood as the Conservative candidate in the Mid Bedfordshire by-election, has returned full-time to his role as PCC after losing to Labour’s Alistair Strathern.
In 2022 the Bedford Independent reported that the PCC had blocked internet trolls, saying that being an elected official does not mean he has to put up with personal attacks.