The number of women standing to be police and crime commissioner for the two main parties has decreased by almost half since the last elections in 2012, from 26% of candidates to just 14%.
A Guardian analysis of Labour and Conservative candidates standing this May, shows that the total number of female candidates has fallen from 21 out of 82 in 2012 to 11 out of 80. This represents a 46% fall in the percentage of candidates for the two parties who are women.
The number of black and minority ethnic (BME) candidates standing for the the two parties decreased from just three out of 82 in 2012 to only one out of 80 candidates.
In 2012, two BME candidates stood for Labour and one for the Conservatives. This year Hardyal Dhindsa, the Labour candidate for Derbyshire, is the only BME candidate standing for either.
Though the Tories have the lowest number of female PCC candidates, the overall fall is largely accounted for by the sharp dip in the number of women standing for Labour.
In 2012, 15 of 41 candidates standing for Labour were women. This May only six out of 40 are women. The Conservatives fielded six female candidates (15% of their total candidates) in 2012. The figure this year is five.
As well as voting in local and regional elections on 5 May, the electorate will be able to vote for the person oversee 40 police force areas in England and Wales, not including London. The role of Greater Manchester PCC will be abolished in 2017 and its duties incorporated into the new role of mayor of Greater Manchester.
Of the Conservatives’ 16 serving PCCs, two are women and none are from BME backgrounds. Labour’s 13 PCC are no more diverse, only two women and no one from a BME background.
Dhindsa described the findings as disappointing. “I would encourage as many people as possible to put their names forward and all parties to do whatever they can to ensure more diversity and representation,” he said.
“I didn’t stand as a diversity candidate. I stood because I felt I had the best experience and knowledge to do a good job,” said Dhindsa, who was appointed as Derbyshire’s deputy PCC in 2013, after 30 years in the probation service.
“It’s about the Robert Peel principle that the police was founded on, [the police are the public and the public are the police]. You can only police by consent if you represent the community.”
A Labour spokesperson said the party had the best record in selecting BME candidates, pointing to the fact that it had more minority ethnic MPs, MEPs and local councillors than any other party.
“Labour has taken the lead in tackling underrepresentation and increasing diversity in politics. However, we know there is always more to do and we will continue to work hard to ensure that we break down the barriers to political participation.”
Referring to Labour’s ruling body, the spokesperson added: “As part of the national executive committee policy review, we are looking at practical ways to improve gender representation locally and nationally, to ensure our party structures are designed in a way that will get women involved, and to look at how we can get more women elected, selected and supported to become leaders.”
A Conservative spokesperson said the party was committed to attracting both men and women from all backgrounds to stand as candidates, but it accepted that there was “still more work to be done”.