Devon and Cornwall Police chief reported over commissioner email

Mike Bull
Image caption Mike Bull said he used personal email records

The head of the outgoing Devon and Cornwall Police Authority has been accused of breaching data protection laws by emailing some staff about the forthcoming commissioner elections.

Authority chairman Mike Bull contacted staff twice about his preferred police commissioner candidate.

Exeter's Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw, said he has reported Mr Bull to the Information Commissioner.

Mr Bull said he sent the emails in a personal capacity.

Pending period rules

Mr Bradshaw said a police officer from his constituency showed him one of two emails Mr Bull sent.

The MP said: "Clearly the use of and access to the police database to electioneer is potentially a legal matter.

"That's why it's very important that the Information Commissioner investigates this as a matter of urgency."

Mr Bull said he sent the emails in a personal capacity, had used "personal email records" and did not use police equipment.

He said: "I am absolutely certain that the Information Commissioner will find I have done nothing wrong.

"I made it abundantly clear I was not doing this as chairman of police authority".

Devon and Cornwall Police said a "number of force employees" received an email "sent in a personal capacity by Mr Bull".

It said: "Due to the content of this email, it was referred by the chief constable to the chief executive of the police authority with a recommendation that it was referred to Police Area Returning Officer [responsible for the police commissioner elections].

"Due to questions asked by staff and officers, a message was posted on the force intranet clarifying the rules of purdah [election pending period] and how this affects the actions of officers and staff."

The police authority said it believed no further action was necessary in connection with the first email.

It added: "Last week, a second email was received from Mr Bull. This has also been referred to the authority and the internal message reiterated.

"We are considering the content of the second email and will refer it to the PARO if necessary."

The police authority is due to be replaced by the new commissioner after an election for the new post on 15 November.

The commissioner will be responsible for the force's budget, and the hiring and firing of chief constables.

There are 10 candidates for the post.

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