Here’s another reason we need to vote in the PCC elections on 2nd May

The Police and Crime Commissioner elections take place on 2 May, on the same day as people turn out to vote in the local elections. In North Yorkshire and South Yorkshire, the PCC responsibilities are being taken over by the new mayors. If you live in Yorkshire, this is your chance to vote for a mayor who will prioritise the welfare of wildlife.

The role of PCC is “to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account”. The PCC will also appoint the Chief Constable of their local force and set the force’s budget, among other duties. Protect the Wild recently outlined a number of PCC candidates that you should vote against if you’re heading to the polling stations on 2 May. They are all Tory candidates, and they have links to the hunting and shooting industries.

In North Yorkshire, the role of PCC includes the oversight of the Fire Service, too, so the role is called Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC). The region’s PFCC “sets the strategic direction of the service”. The PFCC also “sets performance targets after listening to local people about their views of the police.” And so the person with this key role has the power to ensure that the police force actually polices wildlife crimes, including illegal hunting and the shooting of birds of prey. And the PFCC has a duty to actually listen to the public.

On her website Raptor Persecution UK, wildlife conservationist Dr Ruth Tingay has outlined tthe importance of the role. She says:

“Given the persistent volume of raptor persecution incidents in North Yorkshire, going back many, many years, whoever gets this role can have a significant influence on how these crimes are policed (or not, as in this recent case of a poisoned red kite found dead on Swinton Estate – here).”

Who to vote for

Protect the Wild has spent much time telling you who not to vote for in the nation’s PCC elections, such as Warwickshire’s Philip Seccombe, with his extensive links to hunting; or Dorset’s David Sidwick, infamous for his ‘EagleGate’ emails and meetings; or Cheshire’s John Dwyer, who slammed his Labour opponent for commissionig a review of illegal fox hunting in the county.

On Raptor Persecution UK, Tingay has analysed North Yorkshire’s mayoral/PFCC candidates, and has singled out both the best and worst candidates for the job, if you care about the fate of birds of prey in England. She advises the public to back independent candidate Keith Tordoff, who she calls a “raptor champion”. Tingay says:

“[Tordoff] has supported previous campaigns in Nidderdale to catch the notorious raptor (and dog) poisoners on the region’s grouse moors – and has suffered the consequences when his shop was targeted and he also received death threats.

Keith has pledged that if he is elected on 2nd May he intends to establish a steering group within the first 100 days to tackle these wildlife crimes and make sure that North Yorkshire Police are properly resourced to thoroughly investigate crime reports.”

Tingay has also analysed Tordoff’s rival candidate, Liberal Democrat Councillor Felicity Cunliffe-Lister, who is a director of the Swinton Estate, notorious as a site of raptor persecution. Tingay states:

“[Felicity Cunliffe-Lister’s] husband, the Earl of Swinton Mark Cunliffe-Lister, is the current Chair of the Moorland Association (grouse moor owners’ lobby group) who had the brass neck to appear on Radio 4 last summer and say:

Clearly, any illegal [hen harrier] persecution is not happening” (unbelievable, but he did say it – see here).”

Make your vote count

As you can see, voting in North Yorkshire’s mayoral/PFCC election has the potential to have a massive effect on raptor persecution in the region. And in the wider PCC elections across the country, turnout is usually very low, so wildlife defenders have the power to sway votes to candidates who actually care about wildlife. This is a chance to ensure that those with conflicts of interest, such as estate director Cunliffe-Lister, do not hold these powerful positions.

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.