A RETIRED police officer has criticised the rerun of the Swindon and Wiltshire Police & Crime Commissioner elections.

Paul Bowerbank, 67, who was a police officer in Wiltshire for 30 years, said the PCC election ballot papers he received gave an unfair advantage to the Conservative candidate, Philip Wilkinson, by including his motto.

In May, the PCC elections were aborted after it was revealed at the 11th hour that Tory would-be Jonathan Seed had a historic drink-driving conviction. This disbarred him from claiming the role despite getting the majority vote.

Later, in an ITV investigation, it was revealed there was another driving conviction on Seed’s record.

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Mr Bowerbank, a Conservative voter, said: “I’m pretty disgusted with the way Wiltshire Police seem to be dragged down all the time by political parties.

“After the debacle of the last election, the last thing I expected was mud-slinging, but to have it on the voting form is totally out of order.”

On the ballot paper, under the Conservative candidate’s name lies a motto “more police, safer streets,” a detail which doesn’t appear under any other candidate’s entry.

“They’re all for more police on our streets and safer areas, but why weren’t they [the other candidates] put anything? No matter any of the parties,” Mr Bowerbank continued.

The former copper went on to say he did not agree with the way PCCs were “foisted” onto forces in the first place, because the police should be apolitical.

“They have to be seen to be on everyone’s side, yet they’re being led by political parties,” he added.

However, Wiltshire Council said candidates can use a description that “deviates from the traditional party name” on a ballot paper for the PCC elections, provided that it is a “registered description” with the Electoral Commission.

Mr Bowerbank said that he does not remember seeing this on the papers for the previous election nor any national elections.

“It wouldn’t be allowed on a national voting form or else the other parties would be in revolt,” he said.

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Terence Herbert, Wiltshire Council chief executive and returning officer, said: “Political party candidates can use a political party name or a description but it must be registered with the Electoral Commission.

“All candidates listed on the ballot paper have complied with this.”

Political party descriptions can be found on the Electoral Commission website.

The election to decide on the new Swindon and Wiltshire Police & Crime Commissioner will take place on Thursday, August 19.

The count for which will be held on August 20 at County Hall in Trowbridge.