VOTE May 2: Elections for Police and Crime Commissioners

Elections for England and Wales’ Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) take place on 2 May. Whoever gets in could have a major impact on wildlife. Whether we vote for our preferred candidate or vote tactically, it is essential that we all get out to vote.

While the turnout for the PCC election is not as low as it historically once was (the average of 34.1% in 2021 was up from 27% in 2016) we still have an opportunity to influence who takes on these key roles.

PCCs are elected every four years, and even if the pro-hunting and shooting Tory government is ousted at the next election – as looks very likely – these PCCs will still have the potential to be a danger to the wildlife of England and Wales until the next elections in 2028!


Screenshot Electoral Commission website

The role of a PCC

A number of current PCCs with connections to the hunting and shooting world are running for the position again. Protect the Wild argues that no PCC will objectively crack down on wildlife crime when their friends are hunters or gun-wielding shooters.

But what is a Police and Crime Commissioner anyway? A PCC’s role is “to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account”, and “making the police answerable to the communities they serve.” It comes with an annual salary of £88,600.

Police and Crime Commissioners:

    • Set the police budget and make sure it’s spent effectively
    • Appoint the Chief Constables of the local police forces
    • Engage with the public and victims of crime to help set police and crime plans and organise projects within the community
    • Work closely with the local council and other community organisations on these plans and projects


PCCs must also comply with the Nolan Principles for public office holders, which outline codes of conduct. Included in these codes are:

Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.


Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.

Another code of conduct is

Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.

Below we outline why, in our opinion, a number of Conservative PCCs do not comply with these codes of conduct, and why they shouldn’t be given the power to set police objectives nor appoint the Chief Constable in their area.



The worst PCCs

Current Police and Crime Commissioners are overwhelmingly Conservative, mirroring the shattering of the ‘red wall’ that saw voters in even solidly traditional Labour areas turn to the Conservatives in 2019. There will be no repeat of that in 2024 as polling consistently shows.


Amongst these PCCS are a number hoping to hold onto power who we believe can not be trusted to ensure that the police actually crack down on hunting – because their friends are hunters. They are also unlikely to crack down on the killing of mammals, corvids and raptors on shooting estates – because a number of Tory PCCs like to go shooting themselves.



Philip Seccombe (Warwickshire)

Seccombe has been Warwickshire’s PCC since 2016. In a previous article, we explored the links between Seccombe and his friends in the Warwickshire Hunt, as well as his membership of the pro-hunt lobbying group, the Countryside Alliance. Seccombe has been the the subject of much controversy because he is suspected of having had influence on Warwickshire Police’s implementation of a ‘secret protocol’. The protocol reversed a decision to issue the Warwickshire Hunt with a Community Protection Notice for causing road chaos.

When they are elected, PCCs are required to swear an oath of impartiality. It is difficult to believe that a man who back in 2003 – then a councillor at Stratford District Council – seconded a motion supporting the House of Lords’ attempt to wreck the incoming ban on hunting, and who has considerable associations with the Warwickshire Hunt, can ever be impartial when it comes to hunting.

In our opinion, Seccombe’s connections with the hunting industry make him very unfit for his role. Meanwhile, Labour’s PCC candidate, Sarah Feeney, states that if she is elected there will be no secret agreements with Warwickshire Hunt, and that “democracy relies on transparency”.

  • Alternative candidate: Seccombe won the 2021 PCC election convincingly, but with the Tories facing electoral annihilation in 2024 Labour’s Sarah Feeney looks to be the obvious ‘neutral’s vote’.



Philip Wilkinson (Wiltshire)

Philip Wilkinson won Wiltshire’s PCC role in 2021 after ex-fox hunter Jonathon Seed was disqualified. There are a number of hunts under Wilkinson’s watch: the Royal Artillery Hunt (which hunt Salisbury Plain),  and both the Vale of White Horse Hunt and the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt as both span counties including Wiltshire. Wilkinson was notably silent during the disgraceful and highly publicised ‘dig out’ of foxes by the now disbanded Avon Vale Hunt (Seed’s previous hunt).

Wiltshire Police is known for its bias against hunt saboteurs and Wilkinson calls those who monitor hunts “black clad, balaclava wearing thugs”. The force os so biased that it was forced to bring in a new rule: that officers in its Rural Crime Team need to declare any links to hunting. It is vital, therefore, that the police force is scrutinised properly.

Wilkinson has admitted that he has “been to two hunts covertly”.

He has also said:

“I shoot, fish and have a knowledge of the countryside where I live, as do many others in the force and my office, I have even been to a hunt ball and watched the occasional Boxing Day hunt, as most country folk have, but I have not been engaged in hunting or anti-hunting activities to a degree that would compromise my impartial position.”

He has also made a comment, which was written when he was “angry”, saying he would ignore “unbalanced hunt BS from the sabs and the other class warriors”.

Is Wilkinson really being honest when he says that his impartiality isn’t compromised?

  • Alternative candidate: Wiltshire is solidly Conservative but the Independent Mike Rees took a large percentage of the vote in 2021 and is standing again – he could gain enough votes this time around.



David Sidwick (Dorset)

Dorset has a reputation for being a hotspot for the illegal persecution of birds of prey. It is vital, therefore, that Dorset’s PCC takes raptor persecution seriously, and that the person appointed to the role doesn’t have friends in the game shooting industry who might unduly influence him.

David Sidwick has been the Tory PCC in Dorset since 2021. In January 2022 a young satellite-tagged White-tailed Eagle from the Isle of Wight reintroduction scheme was found fatally poisoned on a shooting estate in the county. FOI requests, made by Raptor Persecution UK, revealed that Sidwick had corresponded with his “good chum” West Dorset MP Chris Loder about the killing. Loder had notoriously attacked Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team for investigating the illegal killing of the eagle, and the police investigation was then terminated prematurely. In an email exchange between Loder and Sidwick, the MP referred to the police investigation as “EagleGate”. And in a further email following inevitable media interest in the eagle’s death, Sidwick replied to Loder:

I think you and I need to get our ducks in the row on this one.

I will be in the car from 9.30.”

Dorset is also home to some of the most law-breaking hunts in England.

It’s vital that Dorset’s PCC takes a bold stance and ensures that Dorset Police finally cracks down on these criminal gangs. Sidwick has been accused of removing a social media post after a voter asked him why he refused to condemn illegal hunting in the county. He then apparently blocked the person.

Alternative candidate: Dorset is a very rural, largely Conservative constituency, and Sidwick won convincingly, but an Independent took 50% as many votes as he did. With tactical voting and the electorate turning against the Conservatives a more wildlife-friendly candidate could gain enough votes this time around.



John Dwyer (Cheshire)

Former police officer Dwyer has been Cheshire’s PCC since 2021. He also held the role between 2012 and 2016. Along with the Countryside Alliance, Dwyer slammed his Labour opponent, former PCC David Keane, when Keane commissioned a review of illegal fox hunting in the county. Dwyer said:

“The advice he received cost a lot of money to the public purse and ought to be taken heed of. If what is reported is accurate then I think he is in danger of encroaching on operational policing matters, by getting involved in the detail of policing hunts.”

When he was re-elected in 2021, Cheshire Monitors, which monitors fox hunting in the county, stated:

“It’s alleged that [Dwyer has] got friends within at least one of Cheshires hunts and that the Countryside Alliance Hunting had a part to play in his achieving this role. We have been informed that ‘although Dwyer states that he’s not connected to the hunts in Cheshire he seems to have Peter Jones (Cheshire Hounds hunt secretary) listed as a friend on Facebook. Another point of interest is that Peter Jones was also regional director of Vote OK, a group set up by the Countryside Alliance to campaign for pro hunt candidates to be elected.
But surely nothing this suspect could ever happen?! If you live in Cheshire please help us keep a very close eye on him.”

Alternative candidate: Dwyer won the Cheshire PCC election in 2021 by just 12,499 votes on a turnout of just 25%. There are just three candidates this time around. Tactical voting and a nationwide swing against the Conservatives could see him replaced. 

And there’s more…

The list of Tory PCCs who have pro-hunting or pro-shooting views, and who are vying for power again, goes on. Other candidates who we suggest will be detrimental to the country’s wildlife are:

Angelique Foster (Derbyshire)

Angelique Foster has been Derbyshire’s PCC since 2021. In March of that year, Jo Riley, master of the Barlow Hunt stated that she had held a meeting with Foster. Riley called Foster “our candidate”, and stated that the two had “discussed issues which were pertinent to field sports in relation to saboteur activities”.

Rupert Matthews (Leicestershire)

Tory Rupert Matthews has been Leicestershire’s PCC since 2021. He has written a number of articles for pro-hunting magazine Country Squire.

Alison Hernandez (Devon and Cornwall)

Hernandez has been the Tory PCC for Devon and Cornwall since 2016. When she was last running for the post, the Hunt Saboteurs Association stated:

“Sabs in the South West have noted her bias against them and, if she is voted in again as part of an effort to promote hunting, this bias is likely to become more apparent.”




Trying to make a difference for wildlife sometimes feels like banging your head against a wall: the government isn’t interested in protecting wildlife, while the police (though this is perhaps changing now) see ‘our side’ as troublemakers, out to stop people enjoying ‘lawful activities’. Many campaigns are being held back until after the General Election (which pollsters think will be in November) because there will be huge policy changes (we hope!) when a new government replaces the soiled and tired one clinging to power right now.

But we can ‘do something’ for wildlife right now by voting for change next month. 

A full list of all the candidates is available on the Who Can I Vote For website

  • Find out where your local polling station is by clicking here (don’t forget to take Photo ID).
  • You can also vote by post or by proxy (where someone else votes on your behalf). To submit a postal vote, you must apply by 17:00 on 17 April. And to submit a proxy vote, you must apply by 5pm on 24 April. You must be registered to vote by 11:59pm on Tuesday 16 April.


Together we can oust the Tory PCCs whose priority is to look out for their fox hunting and bird-shooting friends. Collectively we can make our votes count, and with enough of us taking action, we can help save foxes, deer, birds of prey, and badgers too.