The role of a PCC is to hold the police to account and be ‘the voice of the people’. Such a role naturally requires neutrality and a concern for the law. It has therefore been baffling in the lead up to last week's election that a man like Jonathon Seed was ever allowed to stand as a candidate- let alone how he won, despite it no longer counting.
As is public knowledge- Seed doesn’t care much for wildlife. There are photographs online of him fox hunting, holding dead foxes, and there is video footage of him stating why he prefers chasing a live fox to trail-hunting.
He has a long history of association with the hunting world, which is now illegal, having been a Hunt Master for the Avon Hale Hunt for years. Seed and other members of this hunt even appeared in court over charges relating to the Hunting Act. There is video footage of members of his hunt harassing hunt saboteurs and making gestured death threats on camera- doesn't look great. Seed is also the Regional Coordinator for ‘This Is Hunting UK’- a promotional organisation who campaign to ensure pro-hunt candidates are placed into positions of power to maintain influence over hunting.
Even without the drink driving conviction, the above hunting links seem to us like a fair number of reasons it would be a conflict of interest for him to be put in a PCC role. We would expect that a candidate with any external links to areas or activities that create a conflict of interest to that role would be vetted and disallowed. Part of the entry requirements for becoming a PCC candidate are a criminal record check and declaration of any previous convictions. ‘The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 disqualifies a person from standing for election for a police and crime commissioner (PCC) if they have at any time been convicted of an offence for which a person could be sent to prison; whether they themselves were sent to prison for that offence.’ As Seed was never convicted for his charges relating to the Hunting Act, this doesn’t count or disqualify him. This rule seems rather weak and surely opens up the door to candidates applying who have faced court any number of times, but never been convicted. His drink driving conviction however has now disqualified him.
Wildlife crime is an important segment of policing. It is down to individual socialisation and background whether you take wildlife crime seriously- and we know a lot of people don’t. This doesn’t, however, devalue it in the law's eyes. Crime is crime, whether you think it’s important or not. People like Jonathon Seed don’t think it’s important, and have the arrogance and entitlement to believe they can commit it or get around it as explained by the Hunting Office leaked webinars.
Seed has been filmed saying he would want the act repealed (pre 2004) and explaining why he prefers chasing a live fox and subsequently killing it. We therefore can’t fathom why such a man, with all his history of wildlife disruption, would be seen as a suitable candidate for a role that includes wildlife crime policing. We also can’t fathom how anyone could trust such a man to remain impartial and properly police wildlife crime with such a history.
When you look at the demographic for the area Seed stood in (Wiltshire) it is a mostly rural county, and traditionally Conservative. It has been a strong Conservative area for years. As we know, fox hunting is a rural activity that tends to be favoured by conservative voters. It is therefore no wonder that Seed won the majority vote for this constituency. We would expect the residents who voted for Seed aren’t entirely opposed to fox hunting themselves and therefore electing him in could be comparable to bringing in an ally. This is to be expected. What isn’t to be expected (but isn’t surprising) is his eligibility and ease for standing in the first place. We can only concur that as we so often see high-ranking members of the government or police with ties to the hunting world (even our prime minister has a hunting background) that his hunting past did not faze anyone in the slightest, definitely not the conservative party.